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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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|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Saturday 28th March|
|15:00||London Irish vs Newcastle Falcons|
|15:00||Leicester Tigers vs Exeter|
|15:15||Saracens vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 29th March|
|14:00||Sale Sharks vs Gloucester|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Bath|
|Friday 10th April|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Bath|
|Saturday 11th April|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Gloucester|
|15:15||Saracens vs Leicester|
|Sunday 12th April|
|14:00||Exeter vs Northampton|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Sale|
|Friday 24th April|
|19:45||Bath vs London Irish|
|Saturday 25th April|
|14:00||Sale vs Harlequins|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Northampton vs Saracens|
|Sunday 26th April|
|14:00||Wasps vs Exeter|
|Friday 8th May|
|19:45||Harlequins vs Bath|
|Saturday 9th May|
|14:00||Sale vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Northampton vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Gloucester vs London Irish|
|15:15||Wasps vs Leicester Tigers|
|Sunday 10th May|
|14:00||Saracens vs Exeter|
|Saturday 16th May|
|15:30||Exeter vs Sale|
|Sunday 8th March|
|Newcastle Falcons 12 - 16 Leicester Tigers|
|Wasps 17 - 26 Saracens|
|Saturday 7th March|
|Gloucester 33 - 33 Northampton|
|Exeter 74 - 19 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 26 - 20 London Irish|
|Friday 6th March|
|Bath 12 - 3 Sale Sharks|
|Sunday 1st March|
|Wasps 32 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Exeter 16 - 6 Bath|
|Saracens 22 - 17 Newcastle Falcons|
|Leicester Tigers 28 - 8 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 12 - 50 London Irish|
|Friday 27th February|
|Northampton 17 - 13 Harlequins|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|London Irish 6 - 12 Leicester Tigers|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Bath 13 - 21 Northampton|
|Harlequins 21 - 32 Exeter|
|Gloucester 48 - 10 London Welsh|
|Sale Sharks 14 - 10 Saracens|
|Friday 20th February|
|Newcastle 23 - 23 Wasps|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Wasps 37 - 6 Harlequins|
|London Welsh 12 - 52 Sale|
|Saracens 34 - 24 Bath|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Exeter 46 - 17 Newcastle|
|Friday 13th February|
|Leicester 18 - 15 Gloucester|
|Northampton 15 - 9 London Irish|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com