Planet Rugby

Preview: Harlequins v Northampton

03rd May 2013 00:15

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mike brown harlequins v northampton

Third place up for grabs: Quins v Saints

Harlequins have made four changes to the starting line-up that overcame Worcester two weeks ago for their Premiership clash with Northampton.

Tom Casson is named in the inside centre spot, partnering George Lowe, while in the forwards Rob Buchanan starts at hooker and Olly Kohn makes his 100th Premiership appearance.

Tom Guest comes in for Maurie Fa'savalu and is joined in the back-row with Luke Wallace and Nick Easter. Chris Robshaw is recovering well from a knock sustained against Worcester and is expected to return for next week's semi-final.

Among the replacements, Joe Gray is named.

Meanwhile, flanker Calum Clark says that the Northampton Saints will be looking to put in a benchmark performance in Saturday's game.

Both the Saints and Harlequins have already qualified for the Aviva Premiership Rugby play-offs. But there are still final placings to decide, as well as, Clark says, the opportunity to use the game as a step towards the semi-finals.

"It's a chance to play against a top side, to test ourselves as best as we can and see where we stand at the end of the game," he said.

"There can be change in the top four, but you've got to look at the bigger picture and we haven't performed well enough against the big sides.

"We have to use this game as a tool for doing that - we want to progress. We're going to be coming up against another good team in the semi and potentially another one in the final.

"We're preparing as best as we can and will go there ready to play flat out. And the rest will hopefully look after itself."

Form: Both sides look likely to face away semi-finals, though there is a slim possibility that either of them could overhaul second-placed Leicester Tigers. For that to happen however, the Tigers must be heavily beaten at home to London Irish, while both Quins and Saints would need a five-point victory. The Saints will arrive at the Stoop in confident mood having lost just one of their last six Aviva Premiership matches.

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 George Lowe, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Tom Guest, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Ross Chisholm.

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley (capt), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Phil Dowson, 20 GJ Van Velze, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 James Wilson.

Date: Saturday, May 4
Venue: The Stoop
Kick-off: 14:30
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant Referees: Andrew Pearce and Gareth Copsey
TMO: David Grashoff

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PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00