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Preview: Harlequins v London Irish

Preview: Harlequins v London Irish

Charlie Walker insists Harlequins are not fooled by London Irish’s slow start to the season, as the two prepare to do battle on Saturday.

The Exiles have lost all five Aviva Premiership Rugby games so far this season and as yet have not managed to tally a single league point.

Their most recent victory in the competition came when Sale Sharks visited Madejski Stadium on April 12 and four points at the Stoop would be a timely boost for Tom Coventry’s side.

Harlequins, on the other hand, have lost just one of their last six matches on home soil – by a single point to Bath in Aviva Premiership Rugby towards the back-end of last season.

However, Walker is adamant that the result is far from a foregone conclusion as Harlequins seek to remain inside the top four this weekend.

“They’ve had a tough start to the season but we know how good a team they can be so we won’t be taking them lightly at all,” he said.

“We played them in pre-season and we know the talent they have in the squad so we’re going to have to perform at our best.

“But we feel good about how the team are playing at the moment. It was disappointing to miss out on the win at Exeter but we played well and showed what we can do down there.

“Everyone was disappointed with how we got on last season but we’ve worked really hard in pre-season and so far this year to put that right. Hopefully we can carry on this weekend.”

Harlequins were beaten 26-25 at Exeter Chiefs last weekend but claimed two bonus points from the venture, making it three try bonus points in a row in all competitions.

They have also lost only one of their last eight league fixtures against London Irish – 18-13 in Reading in October 2013 – whilst the Exiles’ most recent victory at Twickenham Stoop came in an Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-final in 2009.

London Irish scrum-half Scott Steele is keen to end that drought but he admits they will have to discover a more consistent and clinical display.

“It’s good that this weekend there’s that London derby edge about the game against Harlequins,” he said. “We played them in pre-season and two strong teams were put out, where we narrowly lost.

“It’s one you always look forward to and if we can get our performances right there’s no reason why we can’t get a positive result.

“We need a consistent performance from the whole 80 minutes, we’re not far away. If we do that then the results will follow.”

(Twickenham Stoop, 3pm)

Referee: Luke Pearce (43rd Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Ashley Rowden & Simon McConnell. TMO: David Sainsbury.

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