LV= Cup: Harlequins can make home advantage count against Bath

Bath come into this contest after qualifying for the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup
Bath come into this contest after qualifying for the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup

Simon Mail previews the LV= Cup clash between Harlequins and Bath where the hosts can maintain a fine home record against their opponents...

"Bath have a terrible record at Quins where they have not won for 11 years."

Harlequins v Bath
Saturday January 31, 14:40
Live on Sky Sports 1

Attention switches back to the LV= Cup after the end of the group phase of European competition. These two sides come into this contest with contrasting emotions after their recent Champions Cup matches. While there was disappointment for Harlequins after failing to reach the knockout stage, Bath became the first side to lose their opening two games and still qualify for the quarter-finals.

It was a bitter blow for Quins after the Premiership side missed out on the last-eight despite winning their opening three group games. Conor O'Shea's side ended the competition with a comprehensive 47-19 win in Castres but the damage was done by their home defeat to Wasps. Harlequins will have to lift themselves for a return to domestic action after their European disappointment.

Harlequins have stuttered in the Premiership this season with their inconsistency leaving them seventh in the table. The side have not been able to put a run of wins together and face a struggle to finish in the top four. But this competition represents a realistic opportunity for success having captured the trophy two years ago. 

In their opening match in the tournament, Quins went down to a 25-20 defeat at Saracens. But the team bounced back in their second game to keep their interest in the competition alive. Harlequins appeared to be heading for successive defeats after trailing Newport Gwent Dragons 21-8 at half-time but 23 unanswered second-half points clinched victory.

Bath come into this competition on a high after edging past Glasgow to book a Champions Cup quarter-final trip to Leinster. It has been a superb recovery in Europe and has reflected their excellence domestically which sees them sit second in the Premiership. Mike Ford's team have been exceptional at times this season including thrashing Leicester at home and winning in Toulouse earlier this month.

Their first LV= Cup game of the season resulted in an emphatic 47-7 win over struggling London Welsh at the Rec. The rampant hosts ran in seven tries during the one-sided match. But their second fixture was a very difficult one as a young Bath team suffered an 18-6 defeat at holders Exeter to leave qualification in the balance.  

Bath certainly had the edge in the first meeting between the sides this season. Harlequins were no match for their opponents after falling to a 25-6 away league defeat in November. But Quins edged to a 19-16 victory at the Stoop at the end of last season which was their third consecutive home win over them. Bath have a terrible record at Quins where they have not won for 11 years. 

Both sides are fielding young teams but there is slightly more experience at the highest level in the Quins side with fly-half Nick Evans starting the match. It is always hard to determine the motivation levels in this competition with international players absent and this tournament down the list of priorities. But Harlequins' exit from Europe, coupled with their excellent home record against Bath, suggest it is worth backing the hosts to claim a narrow win. 

Recommended Bets
Back Harlequins to win by under 12.5 points at 2.68/5

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2014/15 Rugby P/L

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Returned: 88.59pts

P/L: +3.59pts

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