Worcester Warriors v Harlequins, Aviva Premiership, September 24
Quins look to maintain perfect start
September 22, 2011
Fly-half Andy Goode will have a key role to play for Worcester against Quins © Getty Images
Harlequins will be protecting the sole remaining unblemished record in the Aviva Premiership when they take to the field at Sixways on Saturday for their meeting with Worcester Warriors.
Quins might not have been tipped up by many pundits as likely title challengers at the start of the season but they have hit the ground running, following up their fine opening-day win over London Irish at Wembley with an equally impressive victory over much-fancied Northampton and a complete annihilation of Gloucester. So, all things considered, Quins appear to be in rude health ahead of their trip to Worcester. However, they will not be taking victory for granted.
The Warriors have lost their last two, away to Gloucester and then Saracens, but they frustrated the hell out of the champions for long periods last weekend and will be hoping to do the same to Quins. In addition, it is worth noting that they defeated Sale at Sixways in their season opener and that result looks even more impressive now in light of the Sharks' recent performances.
Worcester - Player to Watch: Chris Jones is one of the forgotten men of England rugby and alongside James Percival in the second-row, he will look to put down a marker not only to his coach but also to the rest of the rugby watching public.
Worcester - Team News: Percival starts against his old side while coach Richard Hill makes five changes to the starting line-up. Dale Rasmussen is back after serving a one-match suspension while Shaun Perry is passed fit and will join fellow international Andy Goode at half-back. Jones is given the nod in the second-row while Tevita Taumeopeau packs down at prop. Neil Best returns at flanker and will partner Jake Abbott and Kai Horstmann in the back-row.
Harlequins - Player to Watch: Luke Wallace impressed last week scoring two tries against a lackluster Gloucester side and alongside Chris Robshaw is hoping to tie down a back-row berth for the remainder of the season.
Harlequins - Team News: Quins name an unchanged side for the clash while there are two changes to the bench. James Johnston and Seb Stegmann return to the matchday squad after recovering from injury.
Key Battle: The centre spots throws up a huge battle between the likes of Jordan Turner-Hall and the Warriors' Alex Grove. While Turner-Hall and George Lowe have taken the headlines for their performances throughout the season, Worcester's charges will hope to leave their mark on the pair.
Trivia: Andy Goode is set to pass yet another major milestone in the game as he is just three short of 1,500 points in Premiership rugby
Stats: The Warriors' only win in their last ten encounters with 'Quins in all competitions was 23-22 at the Stoop in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 3 November 2007
"Conor O'Shea and his coaching team have got Quins flying at the start of the new Aviva Premiership season and they will arrive at Sixways full of confidence after three successive wins. Harlequins have a young, fit side and play with lots of enthusiasm. There is real energy about them and they have an exciting back line. Our defence will have to be at its best while in attack we aim to show the same kind of ruthless streak that our visitors have in the opening weeks "
"Maurie has made a huge impact on players and supporters alike and his example as a professional in everything he does is one which all young players should follow. He is a delight to have around. There is no doubt he brings something different and will help us develop further as a group. We look forward to having him back after the Rugby World Cup."
Prediction: Harlequins have been in sensational form and expect them to edge Worcester by a margin of three points or less.
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