Planet Rugby

Preview: Harlequins v Leicester

15th February 2013 11:45

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Danny Care: Returns to action

Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea has tweaked his starting XV for Saturday's Premiership clash with Leicester Tigers at the Stoop.

Due to injury and international unavailability, there are two changes to the back-line that lost to Wasps last week.

Matt Hopper moves to outside centre and partners Jordan Turner-Hall who comes into the run-on side for George Lowe. Danny Care returns from international duty with England to start at scrum-half.

Among the forwards, captain Nick Easter starts in the second row, with Charlie Matthews ready to impact from the bench.

In the back row Maurie Fa'asavalu starts at blindside flanker and is joined by Tom Guest and Luke Wallace.

Among the replacements, with Karl Dickson unfit for this weekend, Jordan Burns will look to make his first appearance for the club at scrum-half, while the fit again Ben Botica returns to the bench.

Meanwhile, Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi and Thomas Waldrom return to the Leicester Tigers line-up this top-of-the-table clash.

The international trio have been released from the England squad for this weekend and are recalled by Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill.

There is also a recall in the back-line for Scott Hamilton, and Brett Deacon is named in the back row alongside Waldrom and Julian Salvi.

"We've had some tough battles with Harlequins in the last couple of seasons," said Cockerill.

"Results last week meant we went to the top of the table, but it means nothing at this stage.

"We still haven't played as well as we can and we're now into a key part of the season."

Martin Castrogiovanni, Niall Morris and Steve Mafi are among the players unavailable due to injury this week.

Tom Croft is rested and four players remain with the England squad - Tom Youngs, Ben Youngs, Geoff Parling and Dan Cole.

Form: The top two sides in Aviva Premiership Rugby clash at the Twickenham Stoop. Harlequins were defeated by the narrowest of margins at home to London Wasps on Saturday evening, but have not lost back to back home games since early 2010. Leicester Tigers took top spot in the Premiership table for the first time since the end of the 2010/11 season with their 28-12 victory at home to London Welsh on Saturday. The Tigers have won their last five Aviva Premiership Rugby contests since Wasps defeated them 14-12 at Adams Park on 25 November. It took until 2011 for Harlequins to record a second Premiership win over the Tigers since the tournament began in 1997. Since then Quins have taken three of the last four meetings. Remarkably, Leicester have won on their last eight visits to the Stoop since the Londoners last triumph there, 26-23, in the semi-final 1st leg of the Wildcard in May 2003.

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Tom Guest. 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Nick Easter (c), 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Jordan Burns, 22 Ben Botica, 23 George Lowe.

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Brett Deacon, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Louis Deacon (c), 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Micky Young, 22 George Ford, 23 Matt Smith.

Date: Saturday, February 16
Kick-off: 17:15
Venue: Twickenham Stoop
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle Ashley Rowden
Television match official: David Grashoff
Timekeeper: Roy Marfleet

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