They may have run in six tries in a one-sided victory the first time the sides met this season, but Nick Evans is adamant Harlequins won’t be taking London Welsh lightly when the teams clash at the Kassam Stadium on Sunday.
The Kiwi fly-half was in sparkling form as Quins handed out a 40-3 beating to the Exiles in round two of the Aviva Premiership at the Twickenham Stoop, converting five of the half dozen tries the home side scored that afternoon.
London Welsh were restricted to a single Gordon Ross penalty on that occasion, but they have improved immeasurably as the season has progressed and have won two of their last three games at home.
“Barring their first two games of the season, London Welsh’s games have pretty much all been decided by one score or less so we know what a tough opposition they are,” said Evans, whose Quins side top the Aviva Premiership and are unbeaten in their last three outings.
“We will not be taking them lightly and have given them our full focus in training this week. The Heineken Cup might be fast approaching but we will cross that bridge when we get to it, until then Welsh is all we are thinking about.
“They have impressed a lot of people since they came up, especially up front, and we will be giving them the respect they deserve.”
London Welsh’s only previous victory over Quins in a competitive match dates back to 1972, when Sunday’s visitors were dispatched 45-12 in the first round of the RFU Knockout Cup.
And Exiles inside centre Seb Jewell is well aware of the level of performance needed if Welsh are to inflict only the fourth defeat of the season onto the reigning Aviva Premiership champions.
“Playing against a team like Harlequins is just a massive moment for this club and tells you just how far we have come,” said the 24-year-old former Quins player.
“We know that they can punish teams if they get away from you, their offloading game is fantastic and we need to be wary of that. But if we can start well and slow them down, try and stay in touch with them by half-time then you never know.”
London Welsh were heavily tipped for relegation after shipping 78 points in defeat to Leicester Tigers and Harlequins in their first two Aviva Premiership games, and the Exiles face the Tigers in their next league outing.
Lose heavily in both games and the spectre of relegation could appear once more, but Jewell insists victory could set them on the path to a fantastic finish to the season, adding: “We have got Leicester Tigers after Quins so if we can take something away from this game then that would give us great momentum to take into the second half of the season.”
Referee: Llyr apGeraint-Roberts (9th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Robin Goodliffe.