Rugby Union: A return to winning game for Bath and Leicester: Barrie Fairall on today's league games in which the top two aim for more than drawn conclusion

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The Independent Online
Normal business, or rather winning business, is about to be resumed. Having fought to a draw at the Rec last weekend, Bath and Leicester now look forward to maintaining an unbeaten league record until they meet again at Welford Road on 15 April.

There are some who would book their seats now given half a chance.

Meanwhile, five points clear of the chasing group, there is the immediate matter of coping with today's opposition and in that respect our joint leaders have a distinct advantage. After all, there is no place quite like home, Harlequins heading west to meet the champions and Sale slogging south to tackle the Tigers.

Nor does it appear Quins have much going for them, the injured Will Carling and Brian Moore giving the Rec a miss, besides which the best the city slickers have managed in eight league games with Bath is a draw three seasons ago.

Less we forget, though, Quins did come close to pulling of a sensational win at Bath last April. The problem is there is a world of a difference between a Pilkington semi-final and the league grind. Just ask Quins, traditionally up for the cup but often down on Courage days. And if they can fall apart as they did against Leicester a fortnight ago, when the hamstrung Moore limped off, then what chance here without the hooker's terrier-like leadership?

As for Bath's captain, he does not exactly come up with any crumbs of comfort. John Hall, having failed to tame the Tigers, said: 'That result won't do us any harm if we bounce back with high scoring and some tries against Harlequins, who are a good side but again not fulfilling their potential.'

Eager to score just such a try or two will be Simon Geoghegan. The Ireland wing, who has been having special aqua-treader treatment for a calf injury, finally makes his league debut. 'It has been a frustrating wait,' he said.

Running rings round Quins should help, leaving Leicester to sail past Sale, Wasps to dispatch the struggling Northampton, Bristol to ensure there is no slip up at West Hartlepool, and Gloucester and Orrell locked together in a potentially close one at Kingsholm. As for top Welshmen, Swansea are at Newport and Cardiff home to Pontypool.

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