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Preview: Harlequins v Sale Sharks

Preview: Harlequins v Sale Sharks

The common consensus goes that retaining a title is much more difficult than winning the first but Harlequins have made the perfect start to defending their Aviva Premiership crown with two bonus-point wins from as many games this season.

Success over London Wasps and London Welsh has seen Conor O’Shea’s men soar to the top of the Aviva Premiership table – a position they occupied for most of last season before claiming their maiden league title at Twickenham.

To stay there they will have to beat Sale Sharks at the Stoop on Saturday – a team who have not beaten Quins since May 2010.

Despite that record winger Tom Williams, who scored a try in the opening victory over Wasps, insists there is still a lot of work to do.

“We saw in our win against London Welsh that our work at the breakdown still needs to improve so we want to improve that against Sale,” said Williams, who echoed O’Shea’s words when talking about the importance of youth at the Stoop this season.

“It’s important we step it up from our first two games, and we want to make sure we take advantage of the nice weather while we have the chance.

“This season is going to see a lot of the young players get a chance again and to be fair it really is a young man’s game.

“The academy lads have been involved in the game from a much earlier age than players who are a little bit older like me and we can expect a lot from them this season.

“I’m someone who enjoys helping out the younger guys so hopefully we will see the benefits this year.”

If everything is going to plan so far for Quins, the same cannot be said for Sale who come to the Stoop with a solitary point from their opening two matches.

After a thumping loss away at Exeter in their opening game of the season, the Sharks then saw Saracens spoil their party in their first game in their new Salford City Stadium home.

It’s been a summer of change with the stadium move, as well as the arrival of Bryan Redpath as director of rugby but one man who has not changed is England winger Mark Cueto.

And the 32-year-old admits the Sharks face a tough test to avoid a third successive defeat of the season.

He said: “It’s been great to see Harlequins back at the top of the English game.

“They have got such a fantastic history and they deserve to be where they are, they have a settled squad and we know this weekend will be tough.

“With a great director of rugby in Conor O’Shea we know they play an expansive game and like to get the ball wide.

“But that also leaves them open to concede points so we need to be at our best to take any chance that comes along.

“But make no mistake this is a big test for us to see how we compare to the best side in the country.”

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth (51st Premiership game)
Assistant Referees:Robin Goodliffe, Llyr ApGeraint-Roberts

For more news, try out Harlequins Match Preview Sale Sharks
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