Saturday’s 42-40 defeat by Harlequins at Twickenham was undoubtedly the craziest game I have ever played in.
I have never felt so many emotions within 24 hours before, during and after one rugby match.
To build a 40-13 lead against the reigning Aviva Premiership champions in a game we have been building up to for months, led to sheer elation.
To lose that lead – and the match – in such spectacular style was simply devastating.
I was buzzing in the first half, despite having had a try ruled out by the new TMO ruling for a forward pass that happened on the half-way line in the build-up.
We were 20-0 up after just 12 minutes and 28-13 up at the break.
We had stuck to our game plan of attacking them in wide channels and it had worked a treat as we opened them up for Christian Wade and myself to touch down.
Dai Young warned us at half-time to be wary in the opening 20 minutes of the second half because we knew Quins would come at us. But it was us who scored the next two tries after the re-start.
With 25 minutes to go, we led 40-13 having played some of the best rugby I have ever been involved with and that includes my time at Leicester. I couldn’t see the pattern of the match changing either because everything we had touched had turned to gold.
Against the backdrop of just avoiding relegation in our last match of the 2011/12 season in May, it was fairytale stuff. Almost unbelievable.
I honestly don’t know what happened next. It wasn’t complacency and it wasn’t a lack of fitness. We had just put so much into that opening hour and, with Quins really turning it on, we fell apart.
They have quality players who can hurt you and the likes of Mike Brown and Danny Care was excellent.
When I watched the game back on TV the next day, my finger hovered over the stop button on the remote control for a while with 55 minutes on the clock because I knew what was coming.
With every try Quins scored, it became more and more incredible and when they went 42-40 ahead with a penalty, I could barely believe what had just happened.
Infact, my abiding memory of the hour or so that followed was one of complete shock. I wasn’t angry or disappointed, just completely shocked.
There were loads of positives to take away from a day that will stick in the memory for a long, long time.
Looking back in the cold light of day, we played better in that game that we did during the whole of last season. We all know that and that gives us tremendous confidence going into the rest of the campaign.
But we also know that losing a 27-point lead in 25 minutes is simply unacceptable and we know that we can never let that happen again.
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