Harlequins and Bristol love playing expansive, broken-field rugby but I think the Bears will continue their rocky start when the teams meet tonight.
Last year’s Premiership semi-final between the two sides was the best game of the season, and definitely the best comeback I’ve seen in my life.
Quins and Bristol specialised in chucking the ball around and having a go from deep, and nothing has changed. This is an awesome opportunity for them to demonstrate their talent
But the hosts come into the game off the back of two wins and are difficult to beat when they’re high in confidence, while Bristol have just one win from three.
The Stoop is a tough place to go and win and a strong set-piece always gives you a solid foundation. The battle between Kyle Sinckler and Joe Marler will be a great ding dong.
They’re two world-class operators. Some of the performances Marler has put in week in, week out have been key to Quins getting on the front foot, and Sinckler returned from his Lions break last week with a man-of-the-match performance.
Marcus Smith is back but he’s on the bench, with Harlequins choosing to stick with Tommaso Allan at fly-half.
I can see why. Allan is having an absolute blinder and he’s effectively keeping Smith out of the team. Smith’s back, he’s fit and he could be starting – but he’s not. If or when he comes on we know what he can do; we saw it in spades last season.
This is a difficult one to call, but when Quins are at home, they’re on a roll and are playing with confidence, it’s hard to look past them.
Bristol are missing last year’s loan duo of Max Malins and Ben Earl. Malins really complemented his back three partner in Charles Piutau last season and Earl was very dynamic. They’re clearly being missed.
No one or two players make a team but Bristol are also without Semi Radradra, who on his day is the best player in the league, maybe the world.
Still, I think it will be a really high-quality game. Both sides will have a go at each other because that’s the only thing they know how to do, so it should be great.
Elsewhere, I can’t see past an Exeter win at home to Worcester and Saracens should be able to overcome visitors Newcastle.
Sale could cause an upset and beat Gloucester at Kingsholm with their confrontational style and Wasps might just find a way past Northampton with the quality in their ranks.