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The pressure is on for Premiership duo Harlequins and Bath Rugby ahead of Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup encounter at Twickenham Stoop on Saturday, with kick-off at 15:30 GMT live on Channel 4, BT Sport and beIN SPORTS.
Both sides failed to pick up points on the opening weekend of action, although Quins’ heavy 53-21 defeat at a hungry Clermont Auvergne contrasted in nature with Bath’s tension-filled 17-16 home loss to Ulster.
World Cup finalist Joe Marler will make his first Harlequins appearance this season and Italian international Michele Campagnaro makes his full debut. Semi Kunatani and Paul Lasike will also pull on the Quins shirt for the first time this term. For Bath, South African World Cup winner Francois Louw returns at number eight, while England international Anthony Watson lines up at full-back.
Paul Gustard (Harlequins): “We have had a good week training and put the result from last week behind us. The boys have shown great character and togetherness and are looking forward to playing on Saturday as we welcome Champions Cup rugby back to The Stoop. We know Saturday represents an opportunity to put our learnings into practice against a strong Bath team and put together a performance we can be proud of.”
Lewis Boyce (Bath): “In Europe you don’t have a lot of games to play and only a certain number of points you can rack up. This weekend we’re going for that win – we know it’s not going to be easy, but we’re definitely going to give it our best and go with the mentality of getting those points.”
Classic @JoeMarler, always horsing around 😂
Make sure you're watching @Harlequins take on @bathrugby in the all-English #HeinekenChampionsCup clash on Saturday LIVE on @btsport 📺 https://t.co/QSIsuRmjsU
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) November 21, 2019
- This will be the first Heineken Champions Cup encounter between Harlequins and Bath Rugby, however they have previously met in the Challenge Cup when Bath claimed a brace of pool stage wins against Quins in 2006/07
- Harlequins earned a 33-28 win over Wasps in their last home game in the Heineken Champions Cup, snapping a three-game losing streak on home soil in the competition.
- Bath have lost only one of their four previous away games against Premiership opposition in the Heineken Champions Cup (W2, D1), a quarter-final defeat to Leicester Tigers in 2009.
- Bath made 245 passes in their match against Ulster in Round 1, more than any other side last weekend.
- Harlequins conceded 20 turnovers in their Round 1 defeat to Clremont Auvergne, the most of any side in the opening weekend.
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Harlequins got their first win in Pool 3 of the Heineken Champions Cup largely due to the boot of fly-half Marcus Smith in a 15-9 triumph over Bath.
In pouring rain open play was at a premium with neither side able to cross for a try but Quins played the conditions better and made fewer errors especially in the first-half when they built up a 9-0 lead.
Smith was their hero landing three penalties in the opening 13 minutes while Bath, who were boosted by the inclusion of Anthony Watson at full-back and World Cup winner Francois Louw in the pack, struggled to make much impact.
Two Freddie Burns penalties cut the deficit to six before the hour mark but the decisive blow was landed six minutes from time by Quins centre James Lang who landed a towering penalty from near half-way.
Home hooker Elia Elia received a yellow card for an illegal tackle four minutes from time and although Burns gave Bath late hope with his third penalty there was no late drama as Harlequins held on for victory.
🙌 Get in!! #COYQ pic.twitter.com/Akm2MSfQun
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) November 23, 2019
Both sides were keen to make up for defeats in their opening games, especially Harlequins who suffered a mauling at Clermont.
Coach Paul Gustard had made a host of changes and Quins were also boosted by the return of England prop Joe Marler after his World Cup exploits.
Harlequins travel to Pool leaders Ulster on Saturday, December 7 while Bath host Clermont at the Recreation Ground the previous evening.
It's full time at the Stoop and a disappointing night for the blue, black and white. Thank you to the travelling support who braved the conditions to cheer us on.
Match report to follow. pic.twitter.com/hpGhu9lWOd
— Bath Rugby (@bathrugby) November 23, 2019
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