Planet Rugby



Preview: Racing Métro v Harlequins

06th December 2013 08:21


Nick Easter Harlequins Heineken Cup

Switching back to eight: Nick Easter

Harlequins will hope to climb off the bottom of Heineken Cup Pool 4 as they face Racing Métro on Saturday at the Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes.

In-form Quins have notched up four successive wins in the Premiership, including a notable away victory at Leicester Tigers, since their losing-bonus point defeat at Clermont in October.

Chris Robshaw and co. will have maintain that level of performance if they are to defy the history books and become the first team to lose their opening two pool games and still qualify for the knock-out stages.

Quins are last in a highly-competitive group, just four points behind pool leaders the Scarlets.

British and Irish Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips will make his Racing debut off the bench having joining the French outfit on a two-and-a-half year deal earlier this week. Jonny Sexton is also on the bench as Benjamin Dambielle starts at fly-half while Juan Martin Hernandez is at full-back.

Racing beat Montpellier 17-12 last weekend, their second home Top 14 victory in a row.

Harlequins have announced and unchanged backline from last week's victory over Newcastle Falcons, while there are two personnel changes in the forward pack.

Behind an unchanged front row and due to a slight knock picked up by number eight Tom Guest which keeps him out of this week's game, Charlie Matthews partners George Robson in the second row.

Nick Easter returns to his more familiar position at number eight, while openside flanker and Captain Chris Robshaw makes his first appearance since returning from the November Internationals. Luke Wallace completes the back row.

Among the replacements, Nick Kennedy returns from injury and will look to make his first senior appearance for the Club.

The teams:

Racing Métro: 15 Juan Martin Hernandez, 14 Benjamin Fall, 13 Fabrice Estebanez, 12 Alexandre Dumoulin, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Benjamin Dambielle, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Jone Qovu Nailiko, 7 Bernard Le Roux, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Francois van der Merwe, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski (capt), 1 Eddy Ben Arous.
Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Davit Khinchagishvili, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Karim Ghezal, 20 Camille Gerondeau, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Jonny Sexton, 23 Juan Imhoff.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (capt), 6 Luke Wallace, 5 George Robson, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Will Collier, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Harry Allen, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Nick Kennedy, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Charlie Walker.

Date: Saturday 7th December
Venue: Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir
Kick-off: 16:40 local, 15:40 GMT
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris, Simon Rees (both Wales)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)

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