Quins look to make it 12 in a row
November 18, 2011
Nick Evans' boot has played a key role in Quins' sensational start to the season © Getty Images
Harlequins will be looking to maintain their perfect start to the season when they meet Gloucester at Kingsholm on Saturday in a fascinating all-English Heineken Cup clash.
Quins are the form team in Europe, having won 11 straight games in all competitions, including a 42-6 demolition of this weekend's opponents at The Stoop back in September. However, Conor O'Shea's side looks far from unbeatable and they were given an almighty scare by Connacht in their Heineken Cup opener last weekend before eventually running out 25-17 winners.
Gloucester opened with a defeat but they came desperately close to pulling off what would have been a famous win over Toulouse at the Stade Ernest Wallon only to be denied by a late try from Clement Poitrenaud. A losing bonus point was still a decent outcome for the Cherry and Whites, though, and, with home advantage, they will be looking forward to the challenge of trying to end Quins' winning run.
Gloucester - Player to Watch: Henry Trinder is making all the right noises ahead of the EPS announcement and the young centre looks to be one of the country's brightest midfield talents. He scored a sensational try against Toulouse last weekend and will look to prove it was not a one off against Harlequins.
Gloucester - Team News: Bryan Redpath makes two changes to the side which came so close to beating Toulouse. Lesley Vainikolo is named on the left wing while Scott Lawson comes in at hooker for only his second start since his return from World Cup duty with Scotland.
Harlequins - Player to Watch: Karl Dickson is holding off the challenge of England's Danny Care at half-back and will hope to show Conor O'Shea that his decision was the correct option against Glouceter on Saturday.
Harlequins - Team News: There are three changes to the starting line-up that faced Connacht. The rotation continues at hooker, with Joe Gray switching back in to start alongside Joe Marler and James Johnston, with Chris Brooker moving to the bench. Argentinian Tomas Vallejos replaces the injured Olly Kohn in the second row. And there is one change in the backs with Matt Hopper making his first competitive start for the club replacing the injured George Lowe in the centres.
Key Battle: Lesley Vainikolo brings a physical presence to the Gloucester side and in his way is Sam Stegmann - a man making the most of Ugo Monye's absence for Harlequins. If Stegmann can prevent Vainikolo from getting into his stride then this could be an area where the match may be won and lost.
Trivia: Gloucester have won their last three home games in the Heineken Cup
Stats: Gloucester forced Toulouse into the concession of 18 turnovers last weekend
"They've started the season really well but we always have a massive incentive to do well at home. It's a great opportunity for us to show what we can against a team bang in form."
"He doesn't have to talk too much, he leads from the front and he shows the guys how to do it. He would be a brilliant captain. He would be my choice. He won the Premiership player of the year award a few years ago when he was just 22 and it says a lot about what other players think of him"
Prediction: The loss of George Lowe will hurt Harlequins so Gloucester will end their winning run by a point or two
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