Harlequins vs Gloucester Preview

Harlequins host Worcester Warriors at the Twickenham Stoop

Gloucester have won their last three encounters with Harlequins, but have not been victorious at the Stoop in the Premiership since 9 September 2006.

Harlequins have lost their last three matches in all competitions since beating Sale 21-9 in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 19 February. Quins are unbeaten at home in the Premiership since their 16-20 reversal to Northampton at the Twickenham Stoop on 11 September.

Gloucester Rugby, the new Anglo-Welsh Cup champions, have won eleven successive games in all competitions since their 13-15 loss at Leeds in the Premiership on New Year’s Day.

Able to call upon the services of a host of players returning from injury and international call ups, Gloucester Rugby Head Coach Bryan Redpath rings the changes for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership clash at Harlequins.

The majority of the changes are in the pack. Only skipper Luke Narraway maintains the same starting position from last Sunday’s LV= Cup final win over Newcastle although Akapui Qera moves from blindside to openside.

A completely new front row of Alasdair Dickinson, Scott Lawson and Paul Doran-Jones will pack down supported by a new look second row of Dave Attwood and Will James.

It will be Dickinson’s first appearance since November 4thas he returns from a shoulder injury and Attwood’s first start since December 19th.

Also back is flanker Alasdair Strokosch who returns from Six Nations duty with Scotland.

The backs are more settled although Freddie Burns gets a run out at full back in place of Olly Morgan and Scotland international scrum half Rory Lawson returns.

Head Coach Redpath admitted this week that having more players involved this week has been a huge bonus.

“The guys returning are a boost. It’s added an edge to training and that’s a key thing really. This time of year you have a lot of knocks and niggles but we’ve got people putting their hand up and wanting to play and that’s what you want.”

He is also well aware of where some of the main Harlequins threats are:

“I think the eight, nine, ten link at Quins has probably been the best in the Premiership. I think Nick Evans is an exceptional runner and a great goal kicker.”

“You harness that with Danny Care’s free rein around the free kicks and penalties and his eye for the half gap and Nick Easter has got a great work ethic. People tend to overlook that.”

“It could be a high tempo encounter. They always seem to be high scoring encounters between us.”

Harlequins Director of Rugby Conor O’Shea’s has named England Six Nations champions Nick Easter and Danny Care in his starting line-up.

There are a handful of changes to the side that started in the painful loss to Newcastle Falcons in the LV= Cup semi final at the Stoop two weeks ago.

The absence of Matt Cairns, who picked up an ankle injury against Falcons, sees the return of Joe Gray, with Joe Marler and John Andress completing the front row.

George Robson returns from the hand injury he sustained against Exeter Chiefs in February, to link up with Ollie Kohn in the second row. With Tom Guest still on the injured list, Maurie Fa’asavalu, Captain Chris Robshaw and Nick Easter make up the back row.

The return of Care, and the absence of the injured Karl Dickson who will undergo surgery on his injured shoulder this Monday, sees the England scrum-half look to re-build a strong 9-10 partnership with Rory Clegg.

Jordan Turner-Hall and George Lowe combine once again in the centre, with the only non-English player in the backs, Gonzo Camacho returning to the wing to join forces with Ugo Monye. Mike Brown continues his impressive form at full-back.

Match : Harlequins vs Gloucester Rugby
Date : Saturday 26th March.
Venue : Twickenham Stoop.
Kick Off : 2.15
Referee: J P Doyle (2

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