We're delighted to welcome aboard star Rugby Union tipster Alex Cox @UKRugbybets , who will be covering the top televised domestic, European and International Rugby Union for Betfred Insights moving forward. Here, he has taken a look at the big Gallagher Premiership match-up between Harlequins and Leicester Tigers, from the Stoop on Friday night (19:45).
Handre Pollard's Tigers (6/4) will make the journey down to South-West London on Friday night, but Harlequins (1/2) will have their sights set on reaching the top of the table with a win.
With England Internationals in Spain preparing for the 6 Nations, Premiership squad depth will be put to the test this weekend. Both sides are missing key players, but Quins are in fine form after booking a home tie in the Champions Cup Round of 16 while also sitting 2nd in the Premiership. A win under the lights at The Stoop on Friday night, means they will jump ahead of Saints in to 1st place.
Harlequins will be without their 8, 9 and 10 trio of Dombrandt, Care and Smith this weekend, but I have faith in the depth that Quins have. In their place comes Chisholm, Green and Jarrod Evans. Chisholm was rested vs Ulster so will be fresh ready to face the strong Tigers back row. Jarrod Evans has stepped in already this season and guided Quins to wins vs Exeter, Bristol and Newcastle.
Harlequins fans will also be delighted to see Cadan Murley return to action after injury and he'll look to make an impact from the bench this week. Otherwise it's a fairly settled Harlequins side.
Although Tigers have key figures such as Pollard, Wiese and Liebenberg available, they are still missing a number of players due to both England selection and injuries. It has meant they are short up front and will be missing Cole and Heyes, plus without Chessum & Martin it means Hattherell moves into lock. He's only made 2 starts in that position, back in 2021 for Worcester.
Out in the backs, Whiteley and Pollard partner up as half backs with Kata given the difficult challenge of stopping Andre Esterhuizen from Inside Centre. Mike Brown returns back to The Stoop and Shillcock moves back to 15 in the absence of Freddie Steward
Harlequins -6.5 @ 21/20
Harlequins have the recent bragging rights in this fixture, winning the last two matches (both at Leicester) and will be looking to extend that to a third victory in a row. Tigers build their game plan around set-piece and up front dominance, however, I believe this Quins side - and pack in particular - can match them.
Chisholm and Will Evans will be crucial in stopping the ball carrying duo of Wiese and Liebenberg. The Quins pack often goes under the radar but they currently have the best scrum stats in the Premiership, winning 95.9% of their scrums. This should give Harlequins the platform required to release their backs and allow Esterhuizen to draw defenders to then find space out wide.
Harlequins have been finding the try line at will recently, scoring 15 tries across their 2 recent Champions Cup games and I'm expecting them to bag a bonus point victory to take them to the top of the Premiership on Friday night.
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