D-Day for basement boys Leeds
April 22, 2011
Leeds will be hoping that fly-half Adrian Jarvis brings his kicking boots with him on Sunday © Getty Images
Leeds Carnegie know that they simply have to defeat Harlequins at Headingley on Sunday if they are to have any chance of beating the drop.
Leeds lie bottom of the Aviva Premiership table but level on points with 11th-placed Newcastle. However, the Falcons have a game in hand, against Bath on Saturday week. With a trip to come to Franklin's Gardens on the final weekend of the season, Leeds will be staring relegation dead in the face if they do not see of Quins on home soil.
In Quins, though, Leeds are facing a side which will be low in spirits after seeing their faint play-off hopes dashed by Bath last weekend. Conor O'Shea's men have lost four of their last five games now and appear to have run out of steam at precisely the wrong time.
Leeds - Player to Watch: Adrian Jarvis has been a steadying presence for Leeds since his arrival and again they will be reliant on the fly-half's boot.
Leeds- Team News: Christian Lewis-Pratt shifts to fullback, with Michael Stephenson moving onto the wing. Lachlan Mackay returns at inside-centre while among the forwards, Phil Swainston, Kearnan Myall, Rhys Oakley and Alfie To'oala all start.
Harlequins - Player to Watch: Skipper Chris Robshaw has been immense all season for Quins and his rugged style will be perfectly suited to combating Leeds' gritty forward play.
Harlequins - Team News: Joe Marler returns from suspension at loose-head, with James Johnston joining him in the front-row in place of John Andress.
Key Battle: Leeds are without skipper Marco Wentzel due to injury and if Quins can get on top at the lineout, they will make life very difficult for the hosts.
Trivia: Harlequins have won their last five games against Leeds, dating back to 2005.
Stats: Harlequins' Chris Robshaw has made more tackles (154) than any other player in the Premiership this season.
"We said before the Exeter and Newcastle games that they were non-negotiable games for us in terms of our need to win and Sunday certainly falls in that category." - Leeds head coach Neil Back
"So many times we have been in this position and on a law of averages we should get across on one but we have not. I was proud after the Leicester defeat but I don't think we were at our best against Bath. - Quins director of rugby Conor O'Shea
Fantasy: Harlequins' Mike Brown has been one of the highest-scoring fullback's in this season's ESPNscrum Fantasy Rugby Game. The Saints ace has amassed 96 points.
Prediction: Last weekend's hammering by Wasps will have knocked the stuffing from Leeds, a Quins win.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape