Planet Rugby

Preview: Exeter v Harlequins

11th February 2011 10:17


SKY_MOBILE Robshaw Chris Harlequins flanker

Leading Quins: Chris Robshaw

Harlequins welcome back a number of first-team players for Saturday's Aviva Premiership clash with Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park.

With the England Saxons players having returned, Quins are delighted to have all five back in the starting line-up for the match against the Chiefs.

Quins will be hoping to continue winning ways; a win against the Chiefs would keep the side in the top four of the table, and also bring their unbeaten run in all competitions to ten.

There are a number of changes to the side that defeated Cardiff Blues last week and secured Quins a home semi final in the LV= Cup.

Joe Marler, Joe Gray and James Johnston (who returns from injury) link in the front row, with Ollie Kohn and George Robson combining in the second row. The back row comprises Maurie Fa'asavalu, Will Skinner and Chris Robshaw.

Last week's man-of-the-match, Nick Evans, and Karl Dickson will look once again to continue their formidable 9-10 partnership.

Jordan Turner-Hall and George Lowe are in the centre, with Ugo Monye and Gonzalo Camacho on the wings. Mike Brown returns to the number fifteen shirt.

After last week's try-scoring effort against Cardiff Blues, Sam Smith underwent an operation on a broken thumb and will be out of action for six to eight weeks.

Meanwhile, Exeter assistant coach Ali Hepher insists his side are "fully focused" on the task ahead as they prepare to welcome Harlequins to Sandy Park.

With outings in the Amlin Challenge and LV= Cup having dominated the past few weeks, a return to the nitty-gritty of the Aviva Premiership is something that Hepher and the Chiefs are clearly relishing.

"They are a quality side, they're going well, but equally we have progressed since we last played them and hopefully we'll have learnt a few lessons," said Hepher.

"Our aim for Saturday is to bring a good quality performance. The guys have been training really well, they've been enthusiastic, energetic and they are very excited about this game.

"Harlequins are a good side and we've seen that throughout the season. They are the form side at the minute, but at the same time we are confident in our own ability, especially at home. We have a good record here and we'll certainly challenge and front up to any team that comes here, so it will be a great opportunity for us to be the first side to beat them in a while.

"As we have said all season, we just want to push up the league and get as many wins as we can. The Amlin Cup was a great experience and so was the LV=, but we always knew the Premiership was our priority, so we're fully focused on this weekend and this next bunch of games."

Form: Harlequins won 40-13 when the two sides met at the Twickenham Stoop in round four, whilst Exeter's only previous victory over the Londoners in competitive rugby was 13-8 at the old County Ground in National One on 25 February 2006. Exeter Chiefs last five matches have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst the Chiefs have won six of their last seven encounters at Sandy Park in all competitions.

The teams:

Exeter: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Matt Jess, 13 Jason Shoemark, 12 Sireli Naqelevuki, 11 Nic Sestaret, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 James Hanks, 4 Tom Hayes (capt), 3 Chris Budgen, 2 Neil Clark, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Hoani Tui, 19 Chad Slade, 20 James Phillips, 21 Junior Poluleuligaga, 22 Ryan Davis, 23 Phil Dollman.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Chris Robshaw (capt), 7 Will Skinner, 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Ollie Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 Mark Lambert, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 M Browne, 21 Dave Moore, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Tom Williams.

Date: Saturday, February 12
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Sandy Park
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth

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