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    Out of Touch: Harlequins in Norfolk

    From Western Pennsylvania to the Atlantic Ocean. It is quite the trip to make. In fact it is the longest road trip that the Quins make for conference play. This weekend has also been the first time that Pittsburgh has taken the pitch against an opponent in several months.

    Perhaps this accounts for the slow start the Quins would take against the Norfolk Blues. Sparks of efficient ball movement continuously put Pittsburgh in good attacking position, however unforced handling errors and breakdown penalties cost possession time and time again as the match wore on.

     

    On the other hand, the Blues, with the combination of a punishing forward pack and swift backline were able to spread the Quins out of good defensive position. This left plenty of gaps in the Pittsburgh line and Norfolk exploited the vulnerabilities well.

    This pattern continued throughout the match. Both teams would trade sustained attacking sequences back and forth, but Pittsburgh would give away possession before reaching the try line while the Blues were able to get over the line.

    At the end of the first half the score was 15 – 0 in favor of the home team.

    In the second half there was plenty to be happy with for the Harlequins. The different components of the attacking shape began to establish themselves more. The ball was able to move which spread the Norfolk defense out and generated attacking space.

    If there were things to be happy with there were more things with which to be dissatisfied. A lack of defensive communication meant the Quins bunched up on defense instead of spreading the width of the field. Pittsburgh’s tackling form was too often timid and the defense as a whole struggled to hit the Norfolk attack with pace in a flat line.

    In the end, prop Jake Smith scored or assisted on both of the Harlequins tries. For the first received the ball with pace about 5 meters from the in goal. Multiple Blues defenders were required to bring him to the deck, but as he fell forward he delivered a great pass to lock Zack Jessell who dotted the ball down. A few minutes later the ball went wide for a good game of keep away with the Norfolk side. Ball movement kept the attack moving forward before Smith got the ball again. This time no one would bring him down. Flyhalf Ted Sheedy would convert the try for the final play of the game.

    The final score Norfolk 36 – 12 Pittsburgh.

    The Quins are on the road again next week (3/24) to take on the Cincinnati Wolfhounds in their neck of the woods.