Planet Rugby

Preview: Leicester v Harlequins

01st November 2013 09:44

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Leicester v Bath Matt Banahan Graham Kitchener

Graham Kitchener: At lock for Leicester

Graham Kitchener and Scott Hamilton have been named in Leicester's starting XV for Saturday's Premiership clash with Harlequins at Welford Road.

There are also returns for Matt Smith and Steve Mafi, who have been included amongst the replacements.

Kitchener sat out last week's defeat at Wasps, while Hamilton and Mafi have not played since the Round Two trip to Bath.

Smith has recovered from a broken thumb and joins the matchday squad for the first time this season.

Hamilton adds experience to the Tigers backline, while Kitchener lines up next to skipper Louis Deacon in the second row. Smith and Mafi are among the replacements.

Kitchener's return means a move into the back row for Ed Slater, with Jordan Crane recalled at number eight.

Director of rugby Richard Cockerill said: "It's good to get some more bodies back because we've been pretty thin in some positions.

"The effort and endeavour were there at Wasps last week but our accuracy was poor and we have to put that right. Quins will come with the attitude to play their game and we have just got to concentrate on what we do.

"The game is pretty much sold-out and we need the supporters right behind us to help us through this difficult period."

Unavailable due to injury are Anthony Allen, Gonzalo Camacho, Tom Croft, Vereniki Goneva, Rob Hawkins, Ryan Lamb, Scott Steele, Mathew Tait and Manu Tuilagi.

Dan Cole, Toby Flood, and Ben and Tom Youngs are in the England squad for the start of the autumn series, while Geoff Parling suffered a mild concussion in training with the national team this week and sits out the first Test against Australia.

Meanwhile, there are a number of changes to Harlequins' side that beat Sale Sharks last weekend.

Tim Molenaar will make his first team debut for the south-west London club following his move from Gloucester earlier this week. He partners Matt Hopper in the centres.

Nick Evans moves to full-back in the absence of Tom Williams, who misses out through injury, with Ben Botica starting at fly-half. Charlie Walker and Ugo Monye are named on the right and left wings respectively with Danny Care completing the back-line.

The pack remains the same. On the bench, Charlie Matthews is named for the first time this season having returned from injury. He replaces George Merrick. Karl Dickson and Sam Smith will both be ready to make an impact when they come on while Tom Casson makes a return from injury. Prop Nic Mayhew replaces Kyle Sinckler.

Form: The Aviva Premiership table currently has an unfamiliar look about it, with perennial top-four finishers Leicester and Harlequins both out of the play-off places. The Tigers' only victory in their last four fixtures in all tournaments was a 34-3 win over Treviso at Welford Road in the European Cup - they lost at London Wasps to the boot of Andy Goode last time out at Adams Park. Comparatively, Harlequins ended a four-game losing run with their 24-3 victory over Sale Sharks last weekend but have been defeated in their last two away games against London Irish and Clermont Auvergne.O'Shea's men have not been successful on the road in the Premiership since beating Worcester at Sixways at the end of September. The Tigers have lost only one home game in all competitions since September 2012 and that was 27-32 to Saracens in February. But Harlequins won both encounters with the Tigers in the regular season of the Premiership last year, while Leicester exacted revenge with a 33-16 victory in May in the semi-final. Harlequins have had a remarkable recent run of success at Welford Road gaining three wins from their last five visits in all competitions .

The teams:

Leicester: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Terrence Hepetema, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Owen Williams, 9 David Mélé, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Ed Slater, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Louis Deacon (c), 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Matt Smith, 23 Blaine Scully.

Harlequins: 15 Nick Evans, 14 Charlie Walker, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Tim Molenaar, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Danny Care, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Joe Trayfoot, 5 George Robson, 4 Nick Easter (capt), 3 Will Collier, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Harry Allen, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Nic Mayhew 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Tom Casson, 23 Sam Smith.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 17:30
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Greg Garner and Kevin Stewart
TMO: David Grashoff

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1Bath314
2Saracens313
3Northampton311
4Exeter310
5Leicester Tigers39