Quins look to put Gloucester on a precipice

Weekend Preview

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The Independent Online

Gloucester v Harlequins

(Pool 6, today, 3.40pm)

All-English matches are not usually the sexiest fixtures in a Heineken Cup context, but this one is a glaring exception: the West Countrymen know they must win following last week's narrow defeat in Toulouse while the Londoners, unbeaten across three competitions, are fully aware of the opportunity to push a serious rival to the very edge of the cliff.

And just in case there is a half-interested England coach hanging around with a couple of hours to spare, there will be any number of home-grown Test wannabes on show. Sharples, Trinder, Burns, Turner-Hall, Marler...it should be quite something.

Biarritz v Saracens

(Pool 5, today 1.30pm)

The Premiership champions travel to the Basque country without the suspended hooker Schalk Brits – a major loss, without question – but with World Cup-winning Springbok captain John Smit able to slip, or rather wedge, his outsized frame into the gap, all is not lost. They have the exceptional youngster Jamie George as back-up, too. Biarritz, no mean performers at this level of rugby, are not in so fortunate a position when it comes to making light of bad news. Dimitri Yachvili, that master tactician, is injured, and there is no one in south-west France who imagines Luix Roussarie is remotely as good.

Leicester v Ulster

(Pool 4, today, 6.00pm )

Leicester types have long memories, so it may be that they have yet to forgive Ulster for sticking 33 unanswered points on them at Ravenhill during the 2003-04 tournament. Ben Youngs, the button-bright scrum-half whose light went out during the World Cup, has regained full fitness and will be used off the bench, while three first-choice members of the England pack – Dan Cole, Louis Deacon and Tom Croft – start in the Tigers' eight. Ulster? They have the outside-half Ian Humphreys, a one-time Leicester player who knows all the kicking angles at Welford Road.

Bath v Montpellier

(Pool 3, tomorrow, 3.00pm )

Runners-up in last season's Top 14, the French side travel in serious strength: Martin Bustos Moyano is a top-notch marksman, Francois Trinh-Duc can win matches on his own, and any back row boasting the mighty Georgian ball-carrier Mamuka Gorgodze demands respect. Bath badly need a victory tomorrow, having messed up so majestically in Glasgow. World Cup winner Stephen Donald starts, as does the Springbok flanker Francois Louw and the recently-retired England skipper Lewis Moody. Hang on to your hats.

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