Harlequins v Exeter Chiefs Premiership Preview

Harlequins host Leicester Tigers at the Twickenham Stoop

Harlequins Director of Rugby Conor O’Shea named a team that includes Nick Easter for this weekend’s Aviva Premiership match against Exeter Chiefs at the Twickenham Stoop.

Dave Ward starts at hooker while Easter, who was released from the England squad this week, captains the side at Number eight.

Among the replacements Matt Shields, who this week signed with the club until 2016, will look to make his first Premiership appearance for the club.

Meanwhile, England’s decision to release Jack Nowell from their training base on Thursday means the young Cornishman will again get a chance to impress in Exeter’s midfield alongside Sam Hill.

The Chiefs’ sole change in personnel comes on the bench where Dave Lewis is preferred as back-up scrum-half to Haydn Thomas.

Tom Johnson, who is also named amongst the visiting replacements, will be making his 150th league appearance for the club should he enter the field at any stage.

With little change to his line-up, Baxter and his team of coaches have spent much of this week working on a detailed game plan to overcome Harlequins on their own patch.

Despite recent results, plus their current league position, Exeter boss Rob Baxter is well aware of the threat posed by Conor O’Shea’s side and says the Chiefs will have to be at their best if they are to prosper.

“With Quins’ being one of the teams in contention around us, obviously it becomes a very important game for the both of us,” said Baxter.

“If you look at the games we’ve had with them over the years, whether we win or lose, both sides want to play with ball in hand.

“They are obviously a very good side. They have been at the top-end of the competition for quite some years now and they have even won it recently.

“They will be looking for the win, not just because of their result last weekend [37-6 at Wasps], but also because they are not doing as well as they would like overall and they want to be at the business-end of the league come the end.”

In terms of form Harlequins only victory in their last five first team games was 47-19 in Castres in the European Champions Cup on 24 January.

Quins only loss at the Twickenham Stoop in Aviva Premiership Rugby since their opening fixture of this season was 12-16 to Sale on 21 November.

Exeter Chiefs four game losing run in Aviva Premiership rugby ended at home to Newcastle on Saturday with a 46-17 victory.

The Chiefs have not won away from home in the competition since a trip to table-topping Northampton on 14 November. The two clubs have met on nine previous occasions in Premiership Rugby with the Londoners having a slight edge with five wins to four.

Exeter have visited Twickenham Stoop on four previous occasion in all tournaments and have only won once, 27-16 on their most recent trip in March 2013.

Match : Harlequins v Exeter Chiefs
Date : Saturday 21st February
Venue : Twickenham Stoop,
Kick Off : 3pm
Live on: BT Sport / N.A
Match Officials
Referee :
Matthew Carley (24th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell and Roy Maybank
TMO: Rowan Kitt.

Teams

Harlequins

15 Ugo Monye, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Charlie Walker, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter (c) 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Jack Clifford, 5 George Robson, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Mark Lambert.

Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Matt Shields, 19 Netani Talei, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Ollie Lindsay-Hague.

Exeter Chiefs

15 Phil Dollman, 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Jack Nowell, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Henry Slade, 9 Will Chudley,8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Ben White, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (c), 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon.

Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Byron McGuigan.

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