Quins looking to keep roll going
February 11, 2011
Tom Guest deputises for Nick Easter © Getty Images
Harlequins are out to keep their charge for the Aviva Premiership play-offs alive this weekend with a tricky trip to face Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park.
With their England contingent, scrum-half Danny Care and No.8 Nick Easter, away on Six Nations duty Quins will need some big performances from their squad players in order to conquer a notoriously spiky home crowd.
The Chiefs must bounce back after a big loss to Gloucester in their last outing and will hope for another big scalp in front of their home faithful.
Exeter - Player to Watch: Matt Jess has made just one previous appearance for the Chiefs in the Premiership, which coincidentally was against Quins at the Stoop earlier in the season. However, he has been handed a start on the right wing on the back of his recent two-try salvo against Montpellier in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Exeter - Team News: Exeter boss Rob Baxter has, unsurprisingly, recalled all of his first-team regulars for the visit of Quins. Fullback Luke Arscott, centres Jason Shoemark and Sireli Naqelevuki, and scrum-half Haydn Thomas all return behind the scrum, while there is also a start for winger Matt Jess. Meanwhile, hooker Neil Clark, locks Tom Hayes and James Hanks, and back-row trio Tom Johnson, James Scaysbrook and Richard Baxter slot back into the pack.
Harlequins - Player to Watch: Fresh from picking up the Premiership Player of the Month award for January and his latest outing for the England Saxons, No.8 Chris Robshaw will be keen to maintain his rich vein of form and extend his side's winning run.
Harlequins - Team News: Joe Marler, Joe Gray and James Johnston (who returns from injury) link in the front row, with Ollie Kohn and George Robson combining in the second row. The back row comprises Maurie Fa'asavalu, Will Skinner and Robshaw while last week's Man of the Match, Nick Evans, and Karl Dickson will look once again to continue their formidable 9-10 partnership. Jordan Turner-Hall and George Lowe are in the centre, with Ugo Monye and Gonzalo Camacho on the wings. Mike Brown returns to the No.15 shirt.
Trivia: Exeter's only previous victory over Quins in competitive rugby was a 13-8 win at the old County Ground in National One in 2006.
Stats: Quins flanker Chris Robshaw has made more tackles - 154 - than any other player this season.
"Harlequins are a good side and we've seen that throughout the season. They are the form side at the minute, but at the same time we are confident in our own ability, especially at home. We have a good record here and we'll certainly challenge and front up to any team that comes here, so it will be a great opportunity for us to be the first side to beat them in a while." - Chiefs assistant coach Ali Hepher
"With a number of players having been away recently, along with a number of injuries, I think it has shown both great spirit and good strength in depth. When guys put on the Quins shirt, they know they have a responsibility to Quins and want to live up to that level of performance that has been set this season. - Quins lock George Robson highlights the team spirit driving the success of the club
Fantasy: Ugo Monye is out of the England frame at the moment but could the Quins wing influence your ESPNscrum's Fantasy Rugby Game team?
Prediction: Quins are riding an impressive run of form and having been bolstered by the return of their England Saxons they should have enough to subdue what will be a committed Chiefs side.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton