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Connacht fans get a chance to relive history with pre-season visit to Harlequins

The westerners eliminated the English Premiership side from the Heineken Cup when they beat them at the Sportsground in January.

Paul O'Donohoe celebrates at the final whistle of Connacht's Heineken Cup victory over Harlequins.
Paul O'Donohoe celebrates at the final whistle of Connacht's Heineken Cup victory over Harlequins.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

BY THE TIME Connacht play Harlequins for the second time in Pool 3 of next season’s Heineken Cup, the two sides would be best advised to spent some time apart.

The province announced on Friday afternoon that they will play Harlequins, a team they conquered at the Sportsground in January, at The Stoop as part of their pre-season preparations.

The friendly on 18 August will be the third of five fixtures the sides will play in less than 15 months.

Harlequins beat Connacht 25-17 at The Stoop in round one of last season’s Pool 6 encounters. The westerners gained a hugely satisfying measure of revenge when they ground out a 9-8 reversal in Galway.

The pre-season fixture will once again pit former Irish teammates Eric Elwood and Conor O’Shea, of Harlequins, against each other.

Trip to Exeter

Connacht will face Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park before the match against ‘Quins. The match against the side that finished fifth in last season’s Premiership will take place at 2pm on 11 August.

This season will be Chiefs debut in the Heineken Cup, where they have been pitted against Leinster, Clermont Auvergne and the Llanelli Scarlets.

Club captain Tom Hayes, brother of former Munster and Ireland prop John, is one of three Irish players on the books.

Out-half Gareth Steenson hails from Dungannon and is in his third season at the club. This summer the Chiefs signed centre Ian Whitten from Ulster.

Flanker Tom Johnson was capped on the English tour of South Africa this summer, becoming the first full English international from the Exeter club since 1964.

Following the Harlequins encounter, Connacht will have a two-week break before the first game of the RaboDirect Pro12 season.

The Cardiff Blues will be the visitors to the Sportsground to get the 2012/13 season up and running.

Tickets for the matches in England are available from www.ticketmaster.ie or from the Connacht Rugby Offices on 09 1561568.

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