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Difficult baptism for Connacht

HARLEQUINS v CONNACHT, The Stoop, Tonight, KO 8.0

The baptism of fire facing Connacht can be gauged by the suggestion that Harlequins away is a more difficult assignment than Toulouse at home. And that comes next.

Conor O'Shea's Quins are the only unbeaten club in The Aviva Premiership, bagging eight wins from as many matches, and are ranked number one in tries scored (23) and points scored (234).

There is a degree of optimism in the fact that there are four clubs in England who have conceded fewer tries. Their defence is not unbreachable.

For their part, Connacht have not quite found their identity this season, losing five of eight to stand ninth in the PRO12 League. They have been hampered by the 'Lannigan's Ball' curse of players coming in and going out.

Their best attacking weapon has often been their maul.

But there is hope to be found in Connacht's Amlin Cup record in France, where they have wreaked havoc.

Verdict: Harlequins

Harlequins: M Brown; S Stegmann, G Lowe, J Turner-Hall, S Smith; N Evans, K Dickson; J Marler, C Brooker, J Johnston, O Kohn, G Robson, M Fa'asavalu, C Robshaw (capt), N Easter.

Connacht: G Duffy (capt); B Tuohy, E Griffin, D McSharry, T O'Halloran; M Nikora, P O'Donohoe; B Wilkinson, A Flavin, R Ah You, M Swift, M McCarthy, J Muldoon, R Ofisa, G Naoupu.


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