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The Twickenham Stoop will see Super League’s best attacking team try and penetrate the best defence in the competition, against a backdrop of St Paddy’s Day celebrations.
If Quins are to conquer the Bulls, it will surely need an eighty minute effort; Quins past two games (Wigan and Warrington) saw them lead at the interval only to fall short approaching full time. Similarly, against Salford, Harlequins looked to have the match in the bag, but for a try on the whistle that split the points.
Brian McDermott said the Wigan match was one of the toughest games he has seen in recent times and he was very proud of the effort. This week, says the former Royal Marine, there is increasing pressure on some to perform:
“It’s been another good week in training carrying on from what I thought was a tough effort from our players at Wigan. We’ve looked long and hard at the video from that game and there were some really encouraging signs.”
“Lee (Hopkins) could well be back from injury and of course Villa (Richard Villasanti) is also in the mix for selection. We’re at the stage now where there is pressure on individual players to come up with the right performance and this is helping us as a team.”
Henry Paul also knows a lot about coming up against one of his former clubs; he did it just last week at Wigan: “You see a few faces around the place and you will always remain friends but it’s not really anything to do with the past, it’s about the respect you have for teams like Bradford. They have earned it over the years and so it’s always pretty special when you beat them.”
“They pose a lot of questions of your defence and they pose a massive threat. It will take a very big effort to stop them but we are quietly confident that we can get the job done.”
Paul also knows a lot about the mindset of both coaches; he played alongside both Macs (Brian McDermott) and (Steve McNamara) when at Odsal.
“Brian has his own style as a coach and one thing we don’t do is chop and change things too much. We didn’t change things when we won those earlier games and although we’ve lost a couple, we haven’t made any drastic changes. There’s no need to.”
“It’s all about building on our performances. We’re frustrated about the way a couple of games have turned out but we’ve been right in every game we have played, so it’s not about now doing anything out of the ordinary.”
The Bulls are coming off their biggest win of the season; a 10-try, 56-18 victory over Salford which took Steve McNamara's men to the top of the Super League table.
Last season, results were split: an 18-18 draw in round two was followed by a landslide victory to Bradford (16-58) on their first visit to the Stoop in May. Quins RL then staged a gutsy 28-26 revival in August to get the points in what was McDermott's second home game in charge.
Quins will be televising the RBS Six Nations game between Wales and England from 5.30pm, and the engage Super League Grand Final rematch between Hull FC and St Helens at 6pm, in the bars after the match.
Super League’s Biggest St Paddy’s Day Party starts from 1pm and the ‘defensive’ theme continues; the Royal Marine Band, HMS Raleigh will provide pre-match entertainment from 2.20pm and the British Army Community Cup will take place as a curtain raiser to the main event.
Tickets start at ?12 – 020 8410 6000 or book online at www.quins.co.uk
Gafa, Grayshon, Heckenberg, Hill, Hopkins, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, McLinden, Melling, Mills, Orr, Paul, Purdham, Randall, Rinaldi, A. Smith, T. Smith, Sykes, Temata, Villasanti, Wells.
Morrison, Burgess, McKenna, Cook, I. Harris, McAvoy, Evans, St Hilaire, B. Harris, Langley, Kopczak, Feather, Deacon, Vagana, Vainikolo, Hape, Solomona, Platt, Lynch, Henderson.