Aviva Premiership preview: Leicester v Harlequins

Last updated: 11th May 2013  

Chris Robshaw

Chris Robshaw has failed a late fitness test

Chris Robshaw Harlequins

Chris Robshaw: Out of Aviva semi-final

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Leicester will be looking to seal their 13th straight semi-final win in all competitions when they host Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership clash at Welford Road on Saturday.

Tigers are boosted by the return of Mathew Tait and Dan Cole to the starting XV after the England internationals came off the bench in last week's bonus-point win over London Irish.

Toby Flood will lead out the team as captain for the club's ninth successive appearance in the Premiership semi-finals in front of an expected 20,000-plus crowd for their last home game of the season.

In a blow to Quins, England flanker Chris Robshaw has failed a late fitness test as he continues to recover from an injury sustained against Worcester.

His place remains with Luke Wallace while Maurie Fa'asavalu starts at blindside, one of two changes to the line-up, alongside captain and number eight Nick Easter.

The second change sees Joe Gray starting at hooker where he is joined in the front-row with Joe Marler and James Johnston.

Conor O'Shea has made no changes to the backline as Tom Casson and George Lowe continue their centre partnership, going up against Anthony Allen and Manu Tuilagi.

The enormity of Quins' challenge is borne out by the fact that Leicester have not been defeated at Welford Road in a semi-final fixture since Gloucester were the visitors in the now defunct Cheltenham and Gloucester Cup in March 1998.

However, the Londoners have won their last three fixtures against the Tigers including two at the Midlanders' fortress.

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Toby Flood (c), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Graham Kitchener, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola.

Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Fraser Balmain, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 George Ford, 23 Matt Smith.

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 (c), 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.

Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Ross Chisholm.

What they said...

Leicester rugby director Richard Cockerill: "We've played a lot of rugby in a long season, but now it is just about getting the detail right and bringing your best game to the occasion,"

"We've been in good form and had some good momentum in the run-in, and we need to maintain that high level against a very good Quins side.

"They have a good record here in the last few years, but we wanted a home semi-final in front of our own home crowd to give us the best chance of winning, and now we have to get it right on the day."

Harlequins rugby director Conor O'Shea:
"Each week has been an improvement after Munster.

"We've had a lot of challenges this year as a group, and I am really proud of how we've faced them.

"We could have let the season drift after Munster, but each week we've seen the team become stronger and stronger, both mentally and in terms of desire. Sometimes you need something like Munster to happen.

"We are going to go up there and play. It's effectively a final. There is no tomorrow."

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