Northampton Saints v London Irish preview

The top two teams in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table, and the two top try scoring clubs meet head on at Franklin’s Gardens which is already sold out.


Northampton Saints returned to the top of the table for the first time since round three after their 19-10 victory over Sale on Friday. The Saints are unbeaten in their last eight games in all competitions.


London Irish slipped up 25-33 at Wasps on Sunday – the first time the Exiles had failed to record a league point in a Premiership game this season.


Northampton have won their last three encounters with London Irish, whilst the Exiles have not won at Franklin’s Gardens since a 21-20 scoreline on 13 November 2004.


For this match London Irish have been boosted by the return of fullback Delon Armitage and other changes to the starting line-up see Romanian international, Paulica Ion coming in as tighthead prop and James Buckland as hooker.


Toby Booth, London Irish head coach said: “Despite the short turnaround we’ve prepared well and have strong belief in our ability to challenge whenever and wherever we play. The players are looking forward to the game.”


He adds: “Delon’s return is our gain and England’s loss this weekend – he’s a fantastic player.”


Northampton Saints Director of rugby Jim Mallinder says that it is a big game for the club and that London Irish should be treated with plenty of respect.


“Top-of-the-table clashes are always big games, but these are the games that we want to be involved in as they show we are heading in the right direction,” he said.


“It will be a challenging evening for us. London Irish have been playing some good rugby this season and deserve their position at the top end of the league table.


“Their forwards and midfielders have been carrying the ball powerfully and their strike runners out wide have been scoring plenty of tries. We will certainly have to be focused right from the first whistle if we want a positive result.”


Match: Northampton Saints v London Irish
Date : Friday 26th November
Venue : Franklin’s Gardens
Kick Off : 7.45pm
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth (26th Premiership game)


Teams


Northampton Saints :15 Greig Tonks , 14 Jamie Elliott , 13 Jon Clarke , 12 James Downey , 11 Paul Diggin , 10 Stephen Myler , 9 Ryan Powell ,8 Roger Wilson ,7 Tom Wood , 6 Phil Dowson (capt) ,5 Christian Day , 4 Mark Sorenson , 3 Brian Mujati ,2 Brett Sharman , 1 Soane Tonga’uiha


Replacements , 16 Andy Long , 17 Regardt Dreyer , 18 Tom Mercey , 19 Calum Clark , 20 Mark Easter , 21 Stuart Commins , 22 Shane Geraghty , 23 Bruce Reihana


London Irish : 15. Delon Armitage; 14. Topsy Ojo; 13. Elvis Seveali’i; 12. Daniel Bowden; 11. Jonathan Joseph; 10. Ryan Lamb; 9. Paul Hodgson; 1. Clarke Dermody (c); 2. James Buckland; 3. Paulica Ion; 4. Nick Kennedy; 5. Bob Casey; 6. Kieran Roche; 7. Steffon Armitage; 8. Chris Hala’ufia.


Replacements 16. David Paice; 17. Alex Corbisiero; 18. Faan Rautenbach; 19. Matt Garvey; 20. Richard Thorpe; 21. Marcus Watson; 22. Chris Malone; 23. Darren Allinson.

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