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La Rochelle welcome bottom side Harlequins to the Stade Marcel Deflandre on Sunday as their quest for a European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-final berth reaches a climax, live on Sky Sports.
- French heavyweights La Rochelle, currently second to Montpellier in the Top 14, are just one point behind Pool 1 leaders Ulster Rugby, who face Wasps at the Ricoh Arena in a match running parallel to this fixture.
- Harlequins, who claimed their first win of the Champions Cup last weekend with an excellent comeback against Wasps, are out of the competition, but such is the ferocious fight for last eight places, La Rochelle, Wasps and Ulster can all conceivably progress or be eliminated.
- When La Rochelle and Harlequins last locked horns in Round 1 it was an open affair, which suited the French side as they clinched a 34-27 triumph, with two tries from Geoffrey Doumayrou, although the centre will not feature this time around.
- La Rochelle are also without winger Gabriel Lacroix, who has been ruled out for the season with a knee injury, but flanker Kevin Gourdon does start as the third best tackler in Europe having completed 77, while Harlequins quartet Lewis Boyce, Kyle Sinckler, Danny Care and Marcus Smith all make the starting line-up fresh from being named in England's training squad ahead of the Six Nations opener against Italy.
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La Rochelle marked their debut in the European Rugby Champions Cup by topping Pool 1 and qualifying for the quarter-finals with a hard-fought home win over Harlequins.
- It had looked as though their passage to the last eight was going to be comfortable as they opened up a 13-0 interval lead with tries from Pierre Aguillon and Kini Murimurivalu, plus a penalty from Alexi Bales.
- But Harlequins, who had rallied from 21-0 down to beat Wasps 33-28 at home last weekend for their first win of this season's competition, had other ideas.
- They fought back strongly and grabbed a try through England scrum-half Danny Care converted by Marcus Smith to leave La Rochelle hanging on grimly in worsening conditions, despite a Bales penalty kick on 50 minutes.
- The French side's win, combined with Wasps' bonus-point home victory over Ulster Rugby in the other Pool 1 game, ensured they leapfrogged over the Irish province to head the Pool.
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