Heineken Cup: Harlequins v Munster match preview
A look ahead to Sunday's quarter-final clash
Friday 05 April 2013
Two-time winners Munster will travel to the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday determined to prove a point against the reigning Aviva Premiership champions, having been turned-over in spectacular fashion at Scotstoun against a rampant Glasgow side.
Coming off a 51-24 defeat, and having just scraped into the quarter-finals, the pressure is on Munster to put in yet another spectacular Heineken Cup display that they have become synonymous with over the years.
Harlequins have hit their own rough patch of form, having had three defeats on the bounce against Exeter Chiefs, Saracens and Gloucester, a run that has seen them slump from the top of the table to third, just two points ahead of both Northampton Saints and Gloucester.
Captain Chris Robshaw will return to lead the side out after he was rested for the defeat at Kingsholm, and he is joined by fellow England teammates Mike Brown, Danny Care and Joe Marler. Ugo Monye starts on the wing, with his hopes for a surprise inclusion for the British and Irish Lions still not diminished.
George Lowe will start at outside centre, making his 100th appearance for the club, while Nick Easter will look to continue his good form as of late despite the side suffering a string of losses.
Munster will travel to London with wing Simon Zebo back in their starting line-up, though the influential Doug Howlett will be missing from the other wing as he has been ruled out with a shoulder injury.
Zebo has not played since he injured his foot in the Six Nations clash with England, and the Irishman will be hoping to pick up where he left off with his form before his injury leading many to tip him for a Lions squad place. Howlett injured his shoulder while reaching for the try-line last week in their defeat to Glasgow, but other doubts Conor Murray, Peter O'Mahony and Donnacha Ryan all start.
They will be led out by their talismanic lock Paul O'Connell, who partners Ryan in the second-row. O'Connell is coming back from a serious back injury that saw him miss the entire Six Nations, but he will have set his sights on another historic Heineken Cup run with the four-time finalists, before turning his attentions to another potential Lions tour.
Harlequins: Mike Brown; Tom Williams, George Lowe, Tom Casson, Ugo Monye; Nick Evans, Danny Care; Joe Marler, Rob Buchanan, James Johnston; Olly Kohn, George Robson; Maurie Fa'asavalu, Chris Robshaw, Nick Easter.
Replacements: Joe Gray, Mark Lambert, Will Collier, Charlie Matthews, Tom Guest, Karl Dickson, Ben Botica, Matt Hopper.
Munster: Felix Jones; Denis Hurley, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Simon Zebo; Ronan O'Gara, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, BJ Botha; Donnacha Ryan, Paul O'Connell; Peter O'Mahony, Tommy O'Donnell, James Coughlan.
Replacements: Damien Varley, Wian du Preez, Stephen Archer, Donncha O'Callaghan, Paddy Butler, Cathal Sheridan, I Keatley, Ivan Dineen.
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