Points For: 591
Points Against: 691
Home Record: W4 L9
Away Record (including Magic weekend): W7 L7
Longest Winning Streak: 3
Longest Losing Streak: 6
Top Points Scorer: Danny Orr (102)
Top Try Scorer: David Howell (14)
Top Tackler: Jason Golden (754)
Boy, was this season complicated.
The first half of Quins’ season went swimmingly. Apart from some blowouts to Huddersfield (one in the cup) Harlequins were at a minimum competitive in every game, and at their best were able to run rampant. Both Salford and Warrington (in probably the best Quins display I’ve seen over the past few seasons) felt the force of the Pastel Quarters. A dominant win at Headingley over Leeds and a crushing of Hull KR at Craven Park seemed to show that the Londoners were the real deal this season. Then Leeds returned the favour (and then some) at The Stoop and David Howell’s sending off at Wigan helped trigger a collapse that the England cricket team would be proud of.
If ever a picture told a story, the above shows exactly how Quins’ season completely fell apart. It’s hard to believe that after the large victory at Hull KR took them into the top four that their season would collapse in such a dramatic fashion, losing eleven of their last twelve games. The defense that had helped them win some tough games disappeared, and they seemed to lose any sense of attacking threat as well. It’s remarkable how little of their defeats in that final stretch were close. When they had the chance to seize their own destiny and make up for the last few months, they instead capitulated and conceded 48 unanswered points at home to Castleford, the team whose playoff place they were hoping to chase down. It was a real sour point to effectively end a season that had gone from promising to disastrous in the space of a few months.
This all makes it kind of hard to judge the Quins players. For most of the year Danny Orr looked like he might sneak his way back into international contention. Will Sharp also showed massive improvement this year even if he didn’t necessarily have the tries to prove it. Tony Clubb also made huge strides forward, and his shoulder charge on Simon Grix was perhaps my personal highlight of the season. Yet for some reason these players stopped being effective down the stretch, and it has to be worrying how they handled the run-in. Even worse, I’m even now doubting the coaching abilities of Brian McDermott, who had worked wonders to make them competitive.
It’s the kind of season that makes you wonder how they can improve for next year. After all, for two-thirds of a season their plan seemed to be working, then it suddenly became a disaster. Some more go-forward in the pack probably wouldn’t go amiss, and maybe another creative or strike player would mix it up a bit. Ultimately though, Quins just need to find a way to keep it going for the whole season instead of for two-thirds of it (this isn’t the first promising season of theirs undone by a lean spell). Once they do that, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with, but until they do they’ll remain as also-rans.