London Irish v Harlequins, Aviva Premiership, February 26
Quins eye Exiles double
February 25, 2011
Chris Robshaw has been released by England and starts for Harlequins © Getty Images
Harlequins make the short trip to Reading on Saturday to take on London Irish with both sides eager for points as they continue to scrap for a place in the play-offs.
The Exiles slipped to another disappointing defeat last weekend as Gloucester prevailed at Kingsholm while Harlequins bounced back from their shock reversal at the hands of Exeter by scrapping past a poor Sale side at the Stoop.
Both teams are hovering outside the top four but a run of form could see both influence proceedings at the end of the season, but time is running out.
London Irish - Player to Watch: Steffon Armitage returns to the Premiership stage and will relish the chance to go up against some of his rivals for international honours.
London Irish - Team News: Richard Thorpe will lead a team that includes three changes and two positional changes from the side that took on Gloucester last weekend. Bob Casey has recovered from injury and will join Nick Kennedy in the second row while Paul Hodgson comes in at scrum-half in the place of Darren Allinson. Steffon Armitage returns at openside flanker with Jamie Gibson moving to the blindside flank. Topsy Ojo and Tom Homer switch to the wing and fullback respectively. Ryan Lamb has recovered from flu and is named on the bench.
Harlequins - Player to Watch: In an interesting switch, England international wing Ugo Monye will line up in the centre and many will be interested to see how he fairs.
Harlequins - Team News: The pack remains unchanged and Rory Clegg continues at fly-half, after Nick Evans was ruled out for a number of weeks with a hand injury. With Danny Care back on England duty, and Karl Dickson ruled out with injury, Dave Moore makes his first Premiership start at scrum-half. Further injuries to Gonzalo Camacho (knee) and George Lowe (shoulder), picked up in last week's win against Sale, see Monye moved to No.13 to partner Jordan Turner-Hall. Ollie Lindsay-Hague, returns from injury to start on the wing, alongside Tom Williams.
Key Battle: Quins No.8 Chris Robshaw was named the Premiership Player of the Month for January but will have his hands full against opposite number George Stowers. Expect a bruising encounter.
Trivia: Harlequins have not completed a season double over the Exiles since the 2002-03 season.
Stats: Harlequins fullback Mike Brown has conceded more turnovers this season - 21- than any other Premiership player.
"I've played under some good coaches - Richard Graham (Western Force), Andy Friend (Brumbies), Michael Foley (ex-Wallabies assistant coach) and Brian Ashton (ex-England coach). The most under-rated of the lot that I've played under is John Kingston at Harlequins."" - London Irish fly-half Chris Malone heaps praise on Quins coach John Kingston
"Clegg is the best passer of a ball I have ever seen. He has been living out of Nick Evans' pocket and he knows this is how it is going to be for the next couple of years. I am sure Evans [a former All Black fly-half] would admit that he'd like Clegg's pass and Cleggy would like Nick's pace." - Quins boss Conor O'Shea is impressed by fly-half Rory Clegg
Fantasy: Topsy Ojo has chipped in with 78 points so far this season in ESPNscrum Premiership Fantasy Rugby - is the London Irish wing in your side?
Prediction: Quins have lost ground in the race for the play-off places and that pressure should inspire a strong showing against an Irish side on the slide.
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