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- Aviva Premiership
- 4th May 2014
- KO 14:00
- Ground: Sandy Park
- Att: 10,700
Aviva Premiership: Exeter Chiefs host playoff contenders Harlequins at Sandy Park
- Sarries condemn Worcester
- Chiefs' unwelcome Guest
- Gloucester win but miss out
- Wasps edge closer to play-off
Harlequins will travel to Sandy Park on Sunday to face Exeter Chiefs knowing whether or not they still have a shot at an Aviva Premiership play-off berth.
As it stands Harlequins need at least six points from their last two games to give themselves any chance of a semi-final spot, but results elsewhere could equally have seen them eliminated from the race by the time their game arrives on Sunday.
Bath face second-placed Northampton Saints on Friday in a bid to secure a top-four finish, while Leicester travel to face Sale Sharks on Saturday looking to do the same.
Harlequins do however go into the clash full of confidence having won their last three Aviva Premiership matches, while Exeter have won just one of their last four - a 38-33 win at Worcester Warriors in round 19.
Conor O’Shea, the Quins director of rugby, has named three changes to the side that played lost out to Northampton in last week’s Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final.
Tom Williams returns to take over from the injured Charlie Walker on the right wing, while fly-half Nick Evans reclaims his starting place after recovering from injury, meaning Ben Botica drops to the bench.
Between an unchanged front and back-row, Nick Kennedy locks down alongside Charlie Matthews in place of George Robson who picked up a knock last week.
Among the replacements, Ugo Monye will look to make his first appearance since March after recovering from an injury sustained against Saracens.
England full-back Mike Brown suffered a heavy fall in the European showdown on Friday night but the Harlequins flyer, recently shortlisted for the Premiership Player of the Year accolade, retains his place in the starting XV.
“He’s fine, he just landed on a little patch of concrete when he was tipped up in the air,” said O’ Shea.
“He should be fit for our match this weekend. He had a dead leg that got worse and bled a little bit, but he will be ready to train by the middle of the week.”
A fortnight has passed since the Devon club suffered a record 55-12 top flight defeat to Sale Sharks and the Exeter head coach Rob Baxter has had plenty of time to ponder his options ahead of the penultimate league game of the season.
“It’s about focusing back on ourselves, not getting distracted and realising that the week’s preparation and everything we do is towards a big performance on Sunday,” Baxter told the club’s official website.
“If you turn up and train well during the week it does not mean Sunday will be okay, there’s a bit more to it than that.
“Sometimes you can have a poor training week and go into a really big performance because everybody’s focus has been on the game coming up. As long as this week’s training has some intensity about it, I’m not worried if it’s not the most accurate group of sessions. I want us to show we’re preparing for a big physical performance.”
Among those returning to the starting line-up are captain Dean Mumm, Carl Rimmer, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Hoani Tui, the latter of whom is set for pastures new next season in France with newly-promoted Lyon.
The Maori prop along with Jason Shoemark, Craig Mitchell, James Phillips and Romana Graham, are all set to make their final appearance at Sandy Park.
Harlequins: 15 Brown, 14 Williams, 13 Molenaar, 12 Turner-Hall, 11 Smith, 10 Evans, 9 Care; 1 Marler, 2 Ward, 3 Sinckler, 4 Matthews, 5 Kennedy, 6 Wallace, 7 Robshaw (capt), 8 Easter.
Replacements: 16 Buchanan, 17 Lambert, 18 Doran Jones, 19 Guest, 20 Fa'asavalu, 21 Botica, 23 Monye.
Exeter: 15 Dollman, 14 Vainikolo, 13 Whitten, 12 Hill, 11 Jess, 10 Steenson, 9 Lewis; 1 Rimmer, 2 Cowan-Dickie, 3 Tui, 4 Mumm (capt), 5 Welch, 6 Ewers, 7 White, 8 Horstmann.
Replacements: 16 Yeandle, 17 Mitchell, 18 Brown, 19 Phillips, 20 Scaysbrook, 21 Thomas, 22 Slade, 23 James.
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|Saturday 20th September|
|14:00||Sale vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Saracens|
|15:15||Bath vs Leicester|
|Sunday 21st September|
|14:00||Newcastle vs Northampton|
|Friday 26th September|
|19:45||London Welsh vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 27th September|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Sale|
|15:15||Northampton vs Bath|
|Sunday 28th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Newcastle|
|14:00||Exeter vs Harlequins|
|Friday 3rd October|
|19:45||Bath vs Saracens|
|Saturday 4th October|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Welsh|
|15:00||London Irish vs Northampton|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Leicester|
|Sunday 5th October|
|14:00||Sale vs Wasps|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Exeter|
|Friday 10th October|
|19:45||Leicester vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 11th October|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Saracens vs Gloucester|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Irish|
|15:15||Northampton vs Sale|
|Sunday 12th October|
|14:00||Wasps vs Bath|
|Saturday 15th November|
|14:00||Sale vs London Irish|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Harlequins|
|Friday 19th September|
|Gloucester 22 - 25 Exeter|
|Sunday 14th September|
|Newcastle 18 - 20 London Irish|
|Wasps 20 - 16 Northampton|
|Saturday 13th September|
|Exeter 20 - 24 Leicester|
|Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale Sharks|
|Bath 53 - 26 London Welsh|
|Friday 12th September|
|Harlequins 0 - 39 Saracens|
|Sunday 7th September|
|London Welsh 0 - 52 Exeter|
|Saturday 6th September|
|London Irish 15 - 20 Harlequins|
|Leicester 36 - 17 Newcastle|
|Sale Sharks 20 - 29 Bath|
|Saracens 34 - 28 Wasps|
|Friday 5th September|
|Northampton 53 - 6 Gloucester|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com