Premiership: Harlequins boss Tabai Matson calls for a clear mandate after Joe Marler’s ban
Harlequins boss Tabai Matson hopes that Joe Marler wasn’t made a scapegoat after the prop was banned for two weeks for verbally provoking Jake Heenan.
Marler was banned for two weeks, with a further four weeks suspended, following comments he made towards flanker Jake Heenan in the Premiership match against Bristol Bears.
The England and Harlequins prop accepted the charge of conduct prejudicial to the game, with his remarks relating to Heenan’s mother.
Matson calls for clear mandate
Marler served the first week of his ban as Quins fell to a 46-17 Premiership loss to Northampton Saints and will also miss the club’s clash with play-off rivals Sale Sharks next weekend.
After the Saints defeat, Matson called out for a clear mandate from ‘above’ and hoped that Marler wasn’t made a scapegoat.
“I just hope that Joe wasn’t made a scapegoat for something and that there is actually a clear mandate comes down from above. That’s ultimately what you want,” he said.
“And the referees, that’s the key thing, they are the ones who go out and deliver whatever is mandated above as long as there is clarity there.
“I think if you put an audio-catcher next to the Premiership games next week, we would all be sorely disappointed. It is a can of worms.”
Harlequins not at the races
Turning his attention to the defeat, Matson conceded that his side wasn’t at the races as they shipped six tries, two of which were scored by Australian winger James Ramm.
Prop Alex Waller, full-back George Furbank, flanker Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and centre Rory Hutchinson all grabbed tries in the win, while Fin Smith kicked two conversions before going off injured, with Furbank adding two penalties and three conversions for a 17-point haul.
“I think with a scoreline like that, it is pretty hard, to sum up. There were multiple issues, and we clearly weren’t at the races,” Matson said.
“We have to let it fester and settle over the next 48 hours and come back with solutions.
“We face a red-hot Sale team next Sunday, so we definitely have got to be significantly better in all areas.
“As coaches, we always look at the week and ask did we get it right. It is a merciless competition, and if we get a performance like that, we will get another shellacking against Sale, for sure.
“There will be some dented egos and emotions from our team, and they will have to make sure they rebound in the right manner.”
"Going back to the drawing board on the back of that performance, a lot of things failed…"@Harlequins Head Coach Tabai Matson holds his hands up after a disappointing performance against Saints 😪#GallagherPrem pic.twitter.com/4rsldyfPR7
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) January 1, 2023
Tommy Allan added a penalty in the first half, with Quins only breaching Saints’ try line in the second half with scores from prop Jordan Els and full-back Nick David, both converted by Will Edwards.
The Quins boss did provide an update on Marcus Smith, stating that the fly-half is ‘not far away’ from returning to action for the club after an ankle injury but added that the game against Sale Sharks is too soon for the England star.
Saints have work to do
After four successive defeats, Northampton emphatically ended their losing streak against Quins after going down to Exeter, Munster, La Rochelle and Leicester.
Saints boss Phil Dowson was delighted by the win but said there is still plenty of work for his side.
“We were way better today (than against Munster before Christmas), and that is because we worked hard at it,” he said.
“The coaches sat down and thought what is the best plan moving forward for this group, and the lads have been brilliant in terms of picking that up and performing.
“We’ve got loads of work to do, but it was way better than it was.”
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