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Preview: London Irish v Harlequins

Preview: London Irish v Harlequins

Scott Steele knows the odds are against his London Irish side if they are to avoid finishing bottom of the Aviva Premiership Rugby standings.

But with Harlequins the visitors at the Madejski Stadium this weekend, the 22-year-old scrum-half believes an 80-minute performance can do the job for the Exiles – after they came so close to pipping Quins in the Challenge Cup earlier this month, going down 38-30.

Irish have won just one of their last nine Aviva Premiership Rugby matches – 23-18 at home to Gloucester Rugby in Round 17 – but need at least two victories from their final two games to stand any chance of overhauling Newcastle Falcons at the bottom of the table.

And Steele insists they know what is required of them against a dangerous Harlequins outfit, that have not triumphed on the road in the competition since a trip to Worcester Warriors on January 3.

“We were disappointed with the way that we finished that game (in the Challenge Cup), but we can take a lot of confidence from the fact that we got ourselves into a winning position in that game,” he said.

“We let them back in it a bit, but at the same time there was a lot of key elements that we got right in terms of the way we played and things we did right to give them issues.

“So we know the way we want to play against them, and having played them twice already we know their strengths so it’s quite good in that sense that we are still quite fresh since we last played them.

“They’ve got strength all over the pitch, with Danny Care being such a good player and their back four is very strong at the minute.

“They are all good carriers, so we have to make sure that our breakdown is on point, and their back three is pretty handy too given it is full of internationals.

“We didn’t give them too much last time we played, but we did just drop off at the end of the game and allowed them to put the pressure back on to us, so we know what we have to do this time.”

Meanwhile Harlequins winger Marland Yarde knows his side desperately need a win to keep their top six hopes alive, but the game will be particularly poignant for the 24-year-old.

Having come through the ranks at the Exiles, Yarde joined Quins last season and could be part of the side that condemns Irish to bottom spot.

But he believes his former club have what it takes to bounce back if they do finish 12th.

He added: “London Irish have been a big part of my rugby career so it’s difficult to see where they are in the league.

“It’s hard to see how they have got into this position and maybe it’s not quite clicking but they are a great club and have some top players.

“When you think of the likes of Declan Danaher, Nick Kennedy and Paul Hodgson working with the younger players, I am sure they have got the right people there to bounce back.

“In that situation you need a lot of home grown talent and they have got a lot of great players coming through. They will find a way to come back from this.”
Madejski Stadium, 3pm
Referee: JP Doyle (112th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Robin Goodliffe & Andrew Pearce. TMO: Keith Lewis.

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