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Preview: London Wasps v Harlequins

Preview: London Wasps v Harlequins

The foundations for Harlequins’ rise to Aviva Premiership champions were built on a blistering start to last season and Conor O’Shea’s troops will be looking to be similarly fast out of the blocks against Wasps at Twickenham on Saturday.

Quins won their first ten league games of the season, 14 in all competitions, as they stamped their authority on the league from the off. 

A rocky patch after Christmas failed to upset the ship and the London outfit lost only once in their final eight games of the season to lift the Aviva Premiership crown for the first time in their history with a 30-23 win over Leicester. 

And they will be looking to get started on producing a similar record this year against Wasps, a side they have beaten in each of their last five meetings in all competitions.

Harlequins skipper Chris Robshaw admits he couldn't wish for a better stage to kick off the Aviva Premiership season.

“I am excited being back in Twickenham. I have been back and looked at the pitch and of course it brings back all the memories of the final,” he said.

“Whenever you walk back into Twickenham it has that buzz of excitement and it is a brilliant place to play our first game – back to where it all happened.

“The double header is a great opener for our season and it is going to be very tough facing a new Wasps outfit but one we are really looking forward to." 

While last season’s form book makes particularly rosy reading for Quins the picture for Saturday’s opponents is anything but.

Dai Young’s side concluded their campaign with three consecutive Premiership defeats as they secured their survival by the skin of their teeth and a solitary point after a final day defeat to Newcastle Falcons.

Just five years after lifting the Heineken Cup Wasps endured a season embroiled in a relegation dogfight and with financial and injury issues aplenty.

At one point Young had 17 players on the treatment table with serious injuries – while England internationals Joe Worsley, Tom Rees and Steve Thompson were all forced to retire.

The situation looks much improved for Wasps this time around however with new signings aplenty in the shape of former players James Haskell and Tom Palmer while Wales’ record cap holder Stephen Jones will add some much-needed experience at fly half.

Italian centre Andrea Masi and South African number eight Ashley Johnson have also arrived ahead of events at Twickenham on Saturday.

In heading to the capital for the ninth season of the London Double Header, Wasps arrive with a record of four wins, one draw and three losses in previous appearances.

And Wasps boss Dai Young is wary of any predictions ahead of the season opener.

"We're in a much more positive situation now, but I'm not going to make bold statements about charging up the leagues," he added.

"We want a solid season and then build year on year."

Quins have a similar record with three wins, one draw and three losses from their Double Header experiences but will fancy their chances of kicking off their title defence with a win on Saturday.

But despite doing the league double over Wasps last season it was not all plain sailing, particularly at Adams Park where Quins had to dig deep to preserve their unbeaten run with a 22-16 win. 

Conor O’Shea has spoken of his desire to make sure last season wasn’t a one-hit wonder and with near-identical personnel they will looking to kick their defence off in style at the home of English rugby.

To see if Quins can start where they left off against Wasps click here

Referee: Greg Garner (36th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix & Peter Huckle. TMO: Graham Hughes.


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