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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Friday, February 22nd 2019

Preview: Harlequins vs Bristol Bears

Bristol Bears travel to south-west London to face Harlequins, looking to bounce back from last Friday's home defeat to Wasps at Ashton Gate.

Pat Lam's side go to The Stoop in search of their fifth win of the season in the Gallagher Premiership, and their first away from home, while Paul Gustard's Quins will be looking to build on last weekend's bonus-point victory over Worcester Warriors.

Here's everything you need to know about Saturday's clash.


Team news

Bristol Bears: 15. Charles Piutau; 14. Luke Daniels, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Siale Piutau (co-capt), 11. Alapati Leiua; 10. Callum Sheedy, 9. Harry Randall; 1. Jake Woolmore, 2. Sam Parry, 3. John Afoa, 4. Joe Batley, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steve Luatua, 7. George Smith, 8. Jordan Crane (co-capt).

Replacements: 16. Harry Thacker, 17. Yann Thomas, 18. Lewis Thiede, 19. Nick Haining, 20. Dan Thomas, 21. Andy Uren, 22. Ian Madigan, 23. Mat Protheroe.

Harlequins: 15. Mike Brown, 14. Nathan Earle, 13. Joe Marchant, 12. Ben Tapuai, 11. Ross Chisholm, 10. Marcus Smith, 9. Charlie Mulchrone; 1. Joe Marler, 2. Elia Elia, 3. Will Collier, 4. Ben Glynn, 5. James Horwill, 6. Jack Clifford, 7. Chris Robshaw, 8. Alex Dombrandt.

Replacements: 16. Dave Ward, 17. Lewis Boyce, 18. Phil Swainston, 19. George Merrick, 20. James Chisholm, 21. Dave Lewis, 22. James Lang, 23. Francis Saili.


Last time out:

Bristol Bears 20-13 Harlequins - Sat, 22nd Sep 2018, Ashton Gate

A masterful kicking display from Ian Madigan led Bristol Bears to a second successive home triumph in the Gallagher Premiership, as they edged out Harlequins at a rain-soaked Ashton Gate on Saturday afternoon.

Two first-half penalties from the Irishman’s right boot - either side of Piers O’Conor’s 35th-minute try – cancelled out Danny Care’s early opener, as Pat Lam’s side fought their way back from 10-0 down to lead 11-10 at the interval.

Paul Gustard’s side were forced to play nearly 30 minutes with just 14 men after seeing yellow on three separate occasions, as Ben Tapuai, Joe Marler and Paul Lasike were all sent to the sin-bin.

And it was Madigan who made them pay, landing a further three penalties after the break to finish with a 15-point haul and set Bristol Bears on their way to a valuable home win.


Head-to-head:

Chris Vui

The Samoa captain signed a new three-year extension at Bristol Bears in December and has been a pivotal player for the club during the Gallagher Premiership campaign.

Vui's handling and playmaking ability, as well as his set-piece work and physicality in attack and defence, have made one of the league's standout second-rows. 

James Horwill

James Horwill joined Harlequins at the start of the 2015/16 season and the Australian second-row has become a firm favourite of The Stoop faithful.

On the field Horwill is a line out technician and his powerful engine never sees him shy away from contact or take a step back on the field.


Charles Piutau

Piutau recovered from an injury to take his place among the replacements during last weekend's defeat to Wasps at Ashton Gate, making a huge impact off the bench with a try as Bristol fell narrowly short of a comeback win. 

The All Black flyer has beaten more defenders than any other player in the Gallagher Premiership since making his league debut against Exeter in November.  

Mike Brown

In October 2018, Brown made his 300th appearance in a Harlequins shirt; the first player in the professional era to do so. 

Brown was part of the England sides that beat Australia 3-0 in the 2016 summer tour as well as the victorious 2016 and 2017 RBS Six Nations campaigns. The full-back also represented his country at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, scoring twice in the opening match against Fiji. 


Word from the camps:

Pat Lam

“There are five points available on Saturday and that’s the target for us every week.

"Quins were superb against Worcester, so we understand the challenge and we’re excited about putting things right after last weekend.  

“We haven’t got a win away from home, but there have been some positive performances. We believe we can win and it’s about making sure everything comes together on the day.

"They’re a good side, third in the table and flying. Gustard has done a good job, so it’s a great challenge for us – these are the games you want to be involved in.” 

Chris Robshaw

“They are good in attack and that will be a lot of the focus for us after conceding 30 points last week.

"With Bristol, their attacking stats and the opportunities they create for themselves are very dangerous.

"We were the wrong side of the result down there against them earlier in the season, so there’s an opportunity out there for us too."


Form guide:

Harlequins are the best team in Gallagher Premiership Rugby on current form having gained 20 league points from their last six matches. The Londoners have won their last three matches in the tournament but have not won four in a row since 2014.

Harlequins have not lost at Twickenham Stoop in Premiership Rugby since Saracens were the visitors in early October. Bristol Bears have won just twice in the last nine rounds of Gallagher Premiership Rugby, both at home, to Leicester and Newcastle in rounds nine and 11.

The Bears are the only side to have not won an away game in Premiership Rugby this season. Bristol won 20-13 when the two teams met in 2014 at Ashton Gate but have not achieved a Premiership Rugby double over Harlequins since 2001/02.

Bristol’s only win at Twickenham Stoop since then was 17-3 in the European Champions Cup in December 2007.

Bristol Bears: WLL
Harlequins: WLW


Weather forecast

Met Office says: 

Low cloud and fog will largely clear inland by midday with sunny spells developing, but some mist may linger over southern coasts throughout the day.

Remaining dry, with light breezes. Maximum temperature 16 °C.


How to buy tickets:

If you're heading to The Stoop, tickets are available to members to purchase online now by clicking here.


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