Preview: Harlequins v London Welsh

Date published: October 3 2014

Harlequins have made four changes to their side to face London Welsh at The Stoop in Round 5 of the Premiership on Saturday.

Harlequins have made four changes to their side to face London Welsh at The Stoop in Round 5 of the Premiership on Saturday.

Having sat out last week’s loss to Exeter Chiefs Nick Evans returns at fly-half inside a new centre partnership of Tom Casson, who makes his first appearance of the season, and Matt Hopper.

The one change to the forward pack sees Joe Gray starting at hooker ahead of Dave Ward, who drops to the bench.

Meanwhile, London Welsh have made three changes, including one positional switch, to their run-on side.

In the backs, Seb Stegmann returns to face his former club having missed the defeat to Gloucester last weekend. Rhys Crane moves to the bench.

In the forwards, another former Quin, Peter Browne, is named at blindside flanker after also sitting out last weekend’s clash with Gloucester. The return of Browne sees Lachlan McCaffrey move from blindside to open side flanker, in place of the injured Richard Thorpe.

On the bench, Tonga prop Eddie Aholelei is set to make his first appearance for the Exiles, as is on loan signing Chris Hala’ufia.

“We’re really looking forward to Saturday; Harlequins have consistently been in the top four of the Aviva Premiership and are stacked full of international players,” said London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell.

“So it’s a huge challenge, but it’s one we’re very much looking forward to.

“It’s is a big game; it’s a local derby and that will add some spice to it, but we head to the Twickenham Stoop with absolutely nothing to lose.”

The Exiles go in to the game having lost their opening four Premiership fixtures of the new season, and on the back of a 46-10 defeat to Gloucester – a game in which saw the Exiles trail by just five points with 15 minutes to go.

“The final scoreline against Gloucester was the hardest part to swallow, but the scoreboard doesn’t lie. We have to maintain our consistency beyond 60 minutes against Quins on Saturday,” added Burnell.

Form: With two wins and two defeats to start their Aviva Premiership Rugby season, Quins are yet to hit top gear. Welsh, though, have conceded more than 40 points in each of their matches so far. Welsh have not beaten their London rivals since 1972 and Quins are formidable at the Stoop, with last month’s defeat to Saracens the only reverse in the last nine matches played in front of their fans.

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 Luke Wallace, 5 George Robson, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler (c)
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Sam Twomey, 20 Joe Trayfoot,, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Ollie Lindsay-Hague

London Welsh: 15 Seb Jewell, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 Nic Reynolds, 12 Tom May (c), 11 Nick Scott, 10 Olly Barkley, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Ollie Stedman, 7 Lachlan McCaffrey, 6 Peter Browne 5 James Down, 4 Dean Schofield, 3 Taione Vea, 2 Koree Britton, 1 Ricky Reeves.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Morris, 17 Pablo Henn, 18 Eddie Aholelei, 19 Ben Pienaar, 20 Chris Hala’ufia, 21 Rob Lewis, 22 Tristan Roberts, 23 Rhys Crane.

Date: Saturday, October 4
Venue: The Stoop
Kickoff: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Dean Richards
Assistant Referees: Kevin Stewart, Andy Watson
TMO: Trevor Fisher