Dean Richards and Toby Booth, the respective coaching head honchos, held court entertainingly and informatively after London Irish's five tries to three win, but neither they nor any other bright spark has found the ideal place in the calendar for the EDF Energy Cup.
It used to be rugby's equivalent of the FA Cup but that was abandoned when it was judged amateur sides might get beaten up by the professionals. The next revamp for the 2009-10 season seems likely to be a "blocking-off" of the competition – though keeping it Anglo-Welsh – during international windows, with the accent on looking at younger players.
Some clubs have started the development process already. Quins and Irish gave several tyros a glimpse of the big time, and the home side's England Under-20 wing Seb Stegmann looked comfortable – he ran and side-stepped beautifully – even if he has a name straight out of American soap opera central casting.
Stegmann ordinarily understudies Ugo Monye, who was rested for this match but has been called into the England squad for the autumn Tests and looks a decent bet for a cap. With Paul Sackey the favourite on the wing, Monye, 25, is vying with the likes of Josh Lewsey, Mathew Tait and Nick Abendanon. "When he was 17 or 18 he was tipped to play for England within two years," said Richards. "Sometimes you get drawn into a position where you don't push for it because it hasn't happened. Ugo has become far more ambitious and the way they we're playing suits him. And he's stayed free of injury which helps."
Monye sat next to the England attack coach, Brian Smith, to watch Irish fight back from trailing 17-5 after 45 minutes to win comfortably. Three tries in nine minutes did the trick; London Irish's Argentina scrum-half Alfredo Lalanne, newly arrived on trial, showed his sevens experience with swift service to Shane Geraghty, the England fly-half making his second start of the season after injury.
Lalanne, a 25-year-old with one Test cap from the San Isidro Club, is giving his new side cover for England's Peter Richards, the Saxons' Paul Hodgson and the injured Warren Fury. "Alfredo came fresh off the plane, his English is good and he made a massive contribution," said Geraghty. "I felt like I was seeing the gaps and attacking the gain-line. It was my best game for six months but it's one game. A few England players are ahead of me."
Geraghty anticipated he would be released from the national side's training tomorrow for Irish's final EDF pool match against Ospreys on Sunday. There is a semi-final place up for grabs.
Scorers: Harlequins: Tries: Robson, Amesbury, McMillan. Con: Jewell. London Irish: Tries: Thorpe, Hewat 2, Thompstone, Bailey. Con: Hewat, Hickey; Pens: Geraghty.
Harlequins: T Williams; S Stegmann, T Masson, E Taione (DW Barry, 55), C Amesbury; S Jewell (C Malone, 58), G Williams (D Care, 58); A Croall, C Brooker (A Rogers, 71), M Lambert (I Elosu, 55), J Percival, G Robson, P Davies (Rogers, 61-71), N McMillan (capt), T Guest.
London Irish: P Hewat; J Bailey, D Shabbo, C Gower, A Thompstone; S Geraghty (E Hickey, 77), T Parker (A Lalanne, 47); C Dermody (capt), J Buckland (D Paice, 40), F Rautenbach (D Murphy, 69), G Johnson (B Casey, 69), J Hudson, D Danaher, S Armitage, J Fisher (R Thorpe, 34).
Referee: G Garner (London).Reuse content