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Nic Ladds 6th Dec 2008 - 9:10

Underrated Quins can push Stade all the way

Harlequins travel to France today in one of the most eagerly anticipated Heineken Cup matches this season.

Both teams happily sit in Pool Four with nine points each and this could be the match that effectively decides who will finish top, or at least give the team a big push in the right direction.

Stade currently sit second in their domestic league and will be confident of turning over the Twickenham side and odds of 2/7 for the 80 minute match betting reflect just how strong the French side are. Harlequins are available at 5/2 to spring a minor upset.

More realistic is Harlequins receiving an eight-point start on the handicap at even money. The Quins are top of Pool Four and in good form in the Guinness Premiership and will be pushing the French side for the whole 80 minutes.

Harlequins welcome back Nick Easter, Danny Care and Ugo Monye from international duty which gives them a much stronger look and the trio are available at 25/1, 25/1 and 11/1 to score the first try respectively.

Stade Francais' team oozes class and Harlequins will have to be super sharp to stop fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez creating chances for the French side and the Argentinean international can be backed at 20/1 to go over first in the match.

Stade Francais' number 8 Sergio Parisse poses a constant threat having gone over twice against the Scarlets earlier in the pool stages and the Quins defence will have to watch the big man's breaks from the back of the scrum and he will tempt many at 20/1 to score the first try.

Harlequins have surprised a few people this season with their excellent start and Stade would be foolish to underestimate the London side. This promises to be an exciting match with both teams desperate to win to pull clear at the top of the pool.

Harlequins should have the talent to cover the handicap and while Stade are extremely difficult to beat at home Harlequins will be quietly confident of coming away with a famous victory.

Harlequins +8 on the handicap - Even money

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