Head coach John Kingston admits Harlequins briefly drifted away from their attacking heritage before returning to form with ball in hand against Northampton Saints last weekend.
Despite losing a thrilling Big Game 7 at Twickenham, all signs point to the return of Quins’ swagger after delivering a feast of running rugby.
Key turnovers saw Saints grind out the type of win that reigning champions make a habit of but Harlequins, hosts for the day, stopped them from running riot.
Mike Brown beat twice as many defenders as the whole Saints team put together and Conor O’Shea’s men could well have clinched if not for a couple of Tim Swiel miscues from the tee.
But they crossed the whitewash three times on the day – bolstering their Aviva Premiership Rugby try count to 19, the third-lowest in the league – and Kingston believes his side have turned a corner just in time for 2015.
“We had lost our game for a little while and had probably stopped doing a few things that I think are the hallmarks of this rugby club,” he said.
“We were aware of that and had an honest appraisal after the Newcastle game, which though I think we had done enough to win, was not the performance we wanted associated with Quins.
“We challenged the players to go back to basics and it shouldn’t be that difficult to get the consistency back on the field and make sure sides are not going to enjoy playing us.
“We are only interested in winning games and when you don’t you are disappointed, but nevertheless I think we can take an awful lot away from the game – it was a type of performance that Quins are renowned for, challenging a strong Northampton side.
“We didn’t get the bounce of the ball on a couple of occasions and to come away with the win, I’m not sure on the balance of play that they deserved to. But they aren’t champions for nothing and ultimately did what they had to do.”
Some of the most impressive players on the weekend came from Quins’ youngest contingent, particularly – former England Under-20 captain Jack Clifford delivered three turnovers and a try to boot.
His partnership with Joe Trayfoot at flanker softened the absences of both Chris Robshaw and Luke Wallace’s absence and Kingston, who is largely responsible for Quins’ pack, is having fun moulding the next generation.
“Jack is one of those players whose injuries have slightly stalled his career for a year and a half was brought into men’s rugby at 18, 19, and suffered the type of injuries that players often endure at that age when they are making the transition,” added Kingston.
“But with other players missing, he’s a great talent who is receiving opportunities at the sharp end, and all of our young players will be grateful for the chances to express themselves in other players’ absence.
“The only member of our Premiership-winning pack out there at one point last weekend was Nick Easter and there’s a degree of transition still going on here.
“But people look at the likes of Will Collier and Charlie Matthews as experienced and they are still 22, or 23 – it’s a wonderful platform to build on. They can help drive the others on, there’s no doubt about that.”
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