Preview: Leinster v Harlequins

Date published: December 12 2014

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Leinster will look to end Harlequins’ unbeaten European record on Saturday and reignite their own Champions Cup campaign.

The Dublin-based side went down 24-18 at the Stoop last weekend and now sit second in their group at the halfway stage of the pools.

They actually lost their last home game to English opposition, a shock defeat 18-9 to Northampton last season in a game that was played at the Aviva Stadium, as this game will be.

In fact, Leinster have had their fair share of troubles at the Aviva, having also lost there to Munster in the Pro12 this season, as well as to Clermont back in 2012.

They’ve made four changes in total from last week’s XV with Dominic Ryan, Kane Douglas, Isaac Boss and Zane Kirchner selected from the start and two positional switches on the back of those changes.

Luke Fitzgerald switches from the left wing to outside centre in place of the injured Gordon D’Arcy who was not able to shake off a slight calf problem.

As a result of Fitzgerald switching to the centre, Darragh Fanning swaps wings and will start on the left with Kirchner starting on the right. Rob Kearney continues at full-back.

In the pack Douglas comes in to the second row to partner Devin Toner. Finally in the back row, Ryan has shaken off his quad injury to take his place at openside flanker with Rhys Ruddock and Jamie Heaslip completing the pack.

Quins have injury concerns of their own, and travel to Dublin missing their captain and star fly-half, with Chris Robshaw and Nick Evans both out with injury.

As a result Tim Swiel gets his first European start at fly-half after a sketchy display off the bench last time out, while Jack Clifford gets the nod in the back row.

The injury to Evans, as well as the long-term absence of Ben Botica, means that Quins are again very short at fly-half, with Danny Care providing cover for the ten jersey.

Elsewhere skipper Joe Marler will hope to maintain his good recent form as Quins again look to take on Leinster up front.

Leinster are the favourites with Betbright giving Harlequins odds of 16/5.

Form: Harlequins’ win over Leinster last weekend was their first in this competition, with the Irish side having won the only other clash between the two teams. That came in the quarter-finals during the infamous ‘Bloodgate’ match in 2009. This will be their first meeting in Ireland, where Leinster lost to Northampton in round four last year. Their only home defeat this season came in the Pro12 against Munster, also at the Aviva Stadium. They have also lost their last two European games at the Aviva, having lost there to Saints, and to Clermont Auvergne in the pool stages the previous season.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Zane Kirchner, 13 Luke Fitzgerald, 12 Ian Madigan, 11 Darragh Fanning, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Dominic Ryan, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Michael Bent, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Mick McGrath

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

Date: Saturday, 13 December
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Christophe Berdos (France), St

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