Rugby: Best's international master plan for Quins

Harlequins 48 West Hartlepool 10
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It is little wonder that Dick Best should talk of staging a mini-World Cup at The Stoop next season during the month-long break for clubs while England play four pre-Christmas internationals, because on the evidence of this lop-sided match Harlequins could do with sterner tests than West offered.

That Quins did not run up a half century when a ton was there for the taking shows that professionalism here has yet to bring that ruthless cutting edge, which characterises the Southern Hemisphere game.

But after the seven-try demolition of West, Best, their director of coaching, outlined his ambitious plans. "I had a tentative request from Tonga and we've pencilled in the Sunday of the weekend that England play New Zealand up at Old Trafford," he explained. "But that set me thinking. What I would like to do is line up international fixtures on consecutive weekends so we can create our own mini-World Cup.

"We need to raise some revenue during that period. I know of no other business that shuts down for a month, which is ostensibly what we'll have to do while England play their four Tests."

Prior to that, Best is looking into the feasibility of a pre-season programme, which would take Quins first to Tokyo, where they would play Auckland and possibly Brive, before heading to New Zealand and playing Auckland again in what would amount to the return leg of the sell-out match staged at The Stoop earlier this season.

Link-ups such as these should sharpen Harlequins' game and teach them the need to maintain concentration for the full 80 minutes, something they did not show against West Hartlepool, who stole in for two tries which they deserved for the efforts of their pack, but would probably not have scored if their opponents had been more alert.

Yet when Quins let rip they looked the million or so pounds they are, but Best admitted: "It was a stop-start game. We set off at a fair old lick, but then I think we stopped because we had half an eye on next week's Pilkington Cup semi-final at Sale."

Harlequins: Tries Keyter, O'Leary, Corcoran 2, Walshe 3; Conversions Lacroix 5; Penalty Lacroix. West Hartlepool: Tries Earnshaw, S John.

Harlequins: P Challinor (H Harries, 78); D O'Leary, J Keyter, W Carling, M Corcoran (J Williams, 54); T Lacroix, N Walshe; J Leonard (capt; A Mullins, h-t), T Billups, L Benezech, G O Llewellyn, L Gross, R Jenkins, L Cabannes, M Watson.

West Hartlepool: M Silva; G Truelove, L Botham (C Armitage, 75), J Connolly, S John; C John (J Stabler, 75), M Roderick (P Harvey, 63); D Barnes, A Peacock, W De Jonge (P Whitelock, 56), C Murphy, K Moseley (capt), M Emmerson, R Earnshaw, I Morgan.

Referee: G Hughes (Manchester).