Irish and Quins resume rivalry
September 2, 2011
London Irish lock Nick Kennedy is one of the forgotten men in England's second-row department © Getty Images
London Irish and Harlequins kick-off the 2011-12 Aviva Premiership season at Twickenham on Saturday in the first match of the traditional London double header.
The Exiles have won on just one of their last five visits to Twickenham in all competitions with that victory coming against eventual champions Saracens this time last year. But they were on the wrong end of a 28-18 result last December when Quins got the better of them in the latest festive 'Big Game' fixture.
Irish will be out to improve on their sixth place finish in last season's Premiership but will have to do that without two of their new high profile signings Joe Ansbro and Shontayne Hape who are on World Cup duty with Scotland and England respectively. Harlequins, who finished a place below the Exiles but bagged the Amlin Challenge Cup at the end of the campaign, also return to the domestic stage without some key international figures including injured scrum-half Danny Care and No.8 Nick Easter but they do have wing Ugo Monye at their disposal after he was deemed surplus to England's requirements.
London Irish - Player to Watch: Can new playmaker Adrian Jarvis get the Exiles' back line firing and ensure they are troubling the Premiership leaders this term?
London Irish- Team News: Jarvis, will make his first competitive appearance since joining from Leeds while lock Matt Garvey will make his first appearance for the club since January, partnering Nick Kennedy in the second row. Dan Bowden will captain the side from inside centre alongside Jonathan Joseph. England Saxons, David Paice and Topsy Ojo, will play at hooker and on the wing respectively. Club captain Clarke Dermody will start from the bench alongside new signings Alex Gray, Leo Halavatau, James Sandford and Steve Shingler.
Harlequins - Player to Watch: Scrum-half Danny Care was a key weapon in Quins' arsenal last season and with the England international sidelined by injury, Karl Dickson will be hoping to provide the same zip to his side's attacking play.
Harlequins- Team News: Mike Brown will start at fullback, while Ugo Monye and Ross Chisholm will complete the back three. Jordan Turner Hall and George Lowe will look to continue their successful partnership in the centre outside Nick Evans at stand off and Dickson at scrum-half. The front row sees Joe Marler, Joe Gray and James Johnston packing down together, ably backed up by Ollie Kohn and George Robson in the engine room. In the back row, Tom Guest returns at number 8 from his injury, picked up in the early part of 2011, alongside captain Chris Robshaw and Will Skinner at openside. On the bench, Tim Fairbrother, Charlie Matthews and Richard Bolt are looking to make their competitive debuts for Quins.
Key Battle: Quins' fly-half Nick Evans has long been one of the Premiership's classy performers and will look to dominate his opposite number Adrian Stoop.
Trivia: London Irish's new fly-half Adrian Jarvis contributed 298 points during his 32 appearances in the Premiership for Harlequins.
Stats: London Irish have lost just four of their previous 14 meetings with their London rivals Harlequins.
"The World Cup period will be difficult for most clubs. It is never going to be easy when you lose close to 20% of your squad. We have put our trust in our young players to deliver and they are eager to take the opportunity with both hands. We are excited by the challenge."
"We're a group that has been here for the past three years and we are planning on sticking around for a while and winning some trophies."
Prediction: Expect Conor O'Shea's Quins side to rewrite the recent history between the two sides and come away from HQ with an important early win.
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