Planet Rugby

Preview: Harlequins v Wasps

13th April 2012 12:22

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Mike Brown Wasps v Harlequins dec 2011

Man to watch: Mike Brown

London Wasps welcome back Tom Varndell for Saturday's clash with local rivals Harlequins at the Stoop.

Varndell returns to the Wasps starting line-up after over three months out with injury to hand a boost to Dai Young's side.

Varndell takes his place on the wing opposite Christian Wade, who returned from his own lay-off to good effect last week, with Richard Haughton making up a pacey back three for the High Wycombe based outfit.

In other changes to the side, flanker Jonathan Poff is back at open-side while Tim Payne and Tom Lindsay come back into the front row.

On the bench there is also another injury returnee with Chris Mayor providing backs cover, while Lee Robinson and Billy Vunipola also come in as replacements.

Stalwart lock Richard Birkett captains the side in the absence of Hugo Southwell who is out with an arm injury picked up last week.

Director of Rugby Dai Young had special praise for Varndell, Wade and Mayor who have worked hard to come back from injury.

"Those guys have worked their socks off to get back when it would have been easy for them to write this season off and come back next year," said Young.

"That shows how much playing for Wasps means to them and they deserve praise for doing everything they could have to get back and make an impact before the end of the season after a lot of hard work."

Meanwhile for Harlequins, Sam Smith joins the starting line-up with Mike Brown and Ugo Monye completing the back three.

Danny Care returns to the starting line-up alongside Rory Clegg, who continues at fly-half in place of the injured Nick Evans.

Form: Harlequins need just three more match points to guarantee a place in the Aviva Premiership semi-finals for only the second time. Quins only defeat in their last six Premiership matches was at Gloucester in round 16. London Wasps have won two of their last three games in the Premiership, but have not been victorious away from home in the competition since they visited Worcester on 28 October. Harlequins have won their last four games against Wasps in all competitions, whilst Wasps have not won at the Twickenham Stoop since 10 March 2007.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Ugo Monye, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Aston Croall, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 23 Ross Chisholm.

London Wasps: 15 Richard Haughton, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Ryan Davis, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Nick Robinson, 9 Charlie Davies, 8 Sam Jones, 7 Jonathan Poff, 6 Joe Launchbury, 5 Richard Birkett ( c), 4 James Cannon, 3 Ben Broster, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Vladislav Korshunov, 17 Zac Taulafo, 18 Simon McIntyre, 19 Ross Filipo, 20 Billy Vunipola, 21 Lee Robinson, 22 Chris Mayor, 23 Jack Wallace.

Date: Saturday, April 14
Venue: Twickenham Stoop
Kick-off: 16.30 BST (15.30 GMT)
Referee: JP Doyle

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PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers1963
4Bath1959
5Harlequins1954