Quins hope for a sting in Winters' tale

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The Independent Online

Harlequins face an uphill battle to end their two-year away drought when they take on fellow strugglers London Irish this afternoon. They have not won on the road in the Zurich Premiership since 17 March 2001, and the trip to the Madejski Stadium is a daunting prospect in front of a pre-St Patrick's Day crowd of 15,000.

Harlequins face an uphill battle to end their two-year away drought when they take on fellow strugglers London Irish this afternoon. They have not won on the road in the Zurich Premiership since 17 March 2001, and the trip to the Madejski Stadium is a daunting prospect in front of a pre-St Patrick's Day crowd of 15,000.

Quins give flanker Roy Winters his first start since rupturing an Achilles tendon last summer. Prop Ceri Jones will make his full debut while Simon Miall pairs up with Bill Davison in the second row. The Exiles recall wing Justin Bishop, props Mike Worsley and Simon Halford, and flanker Declan Danaher.

Saracens, also threatened with potential relegation, will field their strongest line-up of the season for the visit of local rivals Wasps. Tim Horan, Richard Hill, Thomas Castaignède and Christian Califano will all turn out for Saracens, while the England quartet of Lawrence Dallaglio, Joe Worsley, Josh Lewsey and Simon Shaw return for third-placed Wasps.

Bristol host leaders Gloucester knowing that victory in the west country derby at the Memorial Stadium should push them nearer to mid-table safety. Both clubs face an uncertain future financially and Gloucester, who are set to recall the fit-again England prop Trevor Woodman after a neck injury, must also be looking over their shoulders following second-placed Sale's win yesterday against Leeds.

The bottom club, Newcastle, expect a season's-best crowd for the visit of European champions Leicester. Jonny Wilkinson leads the Falcons' push for a third successive league win, and his England team-mates Martin Johnson and Neil Back are expected to be back on parade for Leicester.

Welsh Premiership leaders Neath romped home 67-14 against bottom-of-the-table Caerphilly at the Gnoll. Dave Tiueti claimed a double and Neath's other tries came from Steve Tandy, James Storey, Shane Williams, Gareth Morris, Adrian Durston, Kevan James and Sean Marsden before Sione Tuipulotu went over twice for Caerphilly in the last six minutes.

Second-placed Bridgend kept up their 100 per cent record with a 42-22 success over Ebbw Vale. Tongan wing Aisea Havili crossed twice and the home side's other try scorers were Richard Mustoe, Siua Taumololo, Chris Horsman and Cory Harris. Rhys Shorney, Kati Tuipulotu and Nick Wakeley replied in kind for Vale.

Scottish Rugby Union chief executive Bill Watson has told staff that savings of £2m-£3m are needed due to a lack of sponsorship and reduced television revenues.

Otago Highlanders fluffed a chance to top the Super 12 table when they lost 33-21 to Cats in Johannesburg. Waratahs saw off South Africa's Bulls 26-16 in Sydney and Crusaders, the holders, shaded Waikato Chiefs 36-29 in Christchurch.

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