Preview: Harlequins v Newcastle

Date published: April 1 2016

Harlequins have made two changes to the starting team that played Northampton Saints last week. 

Marland Yarde returns from injury to start on the wing, while Chris Robshaw starts at blindside flanker.

Among the replacements Matt Hopper will look to make his 100th appearance for the Club.

Meanwhile, Newcastle Falcons have made two changes.

Sinoti Sinoti makes his third league start of the season, Alex Tait switching to full-back as the Samoan slots in on the wing.

The only other change comes in the pack where Ally Hogg’s inclusion sees Sean Robinson drop to the bench, Mark Wilson pushing forward into the second row as Hogg starts at number eight.

Japanese international Kensuke Hatakeyama is among the replacements in the week he helped the club’s second string into the semi-finals of the Aviva 'A' League, the tighthead playing in Monday’s 24-15 triumph at Gloucester.

Will Welch once again captains the Falcons, who are in search of a Premiership double over Harlequins after beating the capital club 26-19 when they last met at Kingston Park on January 31.

Head coach John Wells said: “We are confident we can beat Harlequins. We have done it on the last two occasions we have played them.

“We are not stupid in thinking we can just rock up and roll them over. They have their stars back and there is a massive difference between the Quins team we played in January to the one we will face down there. But like us a little bit, they haven’t won a lot of games recently. That does affect your confidence, and in some ways there is more pressure on them.

“The feeling at the start of the season was they had a squad which would be competing for the top four, and there is a lot of pressure on them to get it right. We can go down knowing we are playing a side capable of producing good football, but knowing that if we strangle them, make them do the things they don’t like doing, we are in with a chance of getting a result.”

Form: Harlequins have won just one of their last five Aviva Premiership Rugby matches: 35-28 at home to Bath in round 16. The Londoners failed to score a try in their most recent fixture at Twickenham Stoop, and have not been tryless in two successive games at the venue since September 2013. Newcastle Falcons have lost their last five matches since beating Northampton Saints 26-25 at Kingston Park in round 13. The Falcons have not won away from home in any competition since a trip to London Irish in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in February 2015. Newcastle have won their last two fixtures against Harlequins and have only once before achieved a Premiership Rugby double over ‘Quins in the same season – when they were champions in 1997/98. The Falcons most recent victory at Twickenham Stoop in Aviva Premiership Rugby was in September 2000.

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Danny Care (c), 8 Nick Easter, 7 Jack Clifford, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 James Horwill, 4 George Merrick, 3 Will Collier, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Sam Twomey, 20 Mat Luamanu, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Matt Hopper, 23 Ross Chisholm

Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Marcus Watson, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Michael Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Nili Latu, 5 Calum Green, 4 Mark Wilson, 3 Taione Vea, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Rob Vickers
16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 19 Sean Robinson, 20 Simon Hammersley, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Craig Willis, 23 Belisario Agulla

Date: Saturday, April 2
Venue: Twickenham Stoop
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Andy Watson, Kelvin Stewart
TMO: Rowan Kitt