London Irish v Leicester Tigers preview

London Irish have slipped to four straight defeats in all competitions since their 39-26 home win over Sale in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 31 October.

 

The Exiles have won all four home Premiership matches they have played this season.

Leicester Tigers are one of only three teams in the Premiership who have lost all their away games this season: the others are Newcastle and Leeds.

 

The Tigers have already picked up seven bonus points this campaign, whilst the only time they have come away with no league points was in the 19-27 reversal at Northampton in round one.

London Irish’s only win in their last five games against the Tigers was 18-12 in this equivalent fixture at Madejski Stadium last season. Leicester have won just one of their last four visits to Reading.


For this match Leicester Tigers welcome back six senior internationals to the matchday squad with Geordan Murphy returning to captain a side which also includes Alesana Tuilagi, Ben Youngs, Marcos Ayerza and Dan Cole after duty at the autumn internationals.


Italy prop Martin Castrogiovanni is named among the replacements.


Tigers are without Tom Croft, who suffered a fractured shoulder in England’s defeat by South Africa, and Toby Flood who is recovering from a knock in the same game.


“We’ve come through a testing spell while the internationals have been away, with 10 points in the last three league games,” said Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill.


“That has been pretty important for us. But now we’re into another massive period with London Irish on Saturday and then back-to-back fixtures against Perpignan in Europe.


“If we can win at Irish that will cement us in the top four, but if we lose we could slip out of the top places, so it is a big game for us.”


Tigers are without the injured Dan Hipkiss, Geoff Parling, Boris Stankovich and Ben Woods, but Jeremy Staunton is named in the matchday squad for the first time since round three after his recovery from an Achilles injury.


For London Irish Samoan internationals George Stowers, Seilala Mapusua and Sailosi Tagicakibau all return to the squad.


Flanker, Stowers joins the starting lineup this week along with David Paice, Faan Rautenbach and Richard Thorpe. Kieran Roche steps in to partner Nick Kennedy in the second row.


Sailosi Tagicakibau, who this week announced a four year contract extension with London Irish, returns to the squad for the first time since October after recovering from injury.


London Irish Head Coach, Toby Booth said: “We’re pleased to be playing at home in front of a good crowd this week.


“Leicester has always provided a tough challenge, however, we won the same fixture last year so have a lot of belief in our ability to do the same again on Saturday.


“The key will be the breakdown. Dave Pearson is an international referee who prides himself on breakdown accuracy and he is aggressive on its policing. This should enable us to get a good platform to launch the potent attack which we pride ourselves on.”


Match : London Irish v Leicester Tigers
Date : Saturday 4th December
Venue : Madejski Stadium
Kick Off : 2.30pm
Referee: Dave Pearson (148th Premiership game)


Teams


London Irish :15. Delon Armitage, 14. Topsy Ojo, 13. Elvis Seveali’i , 12. Daniel Bowden, 11. Jonathan Joseph, 10. Ryan Lamb, 9. Paul Hodgson,8. Chris Hala’ufia, 7. Richard Thorpe, , 6. George Stowers, 5. Kieran Roche, 4. Nick Kennedy, 3. Faan Rautenbach, 2. David Paice, 1. Clarke Dermody (c)


Replacements: 16. Brian Blaney, 17.Alex Corbisiero, 18. Paulica Ion, 19. Matt Garvey, 20. Steffon Armitage, 21. Sailosi Tagicakibau, 22. Seilala Mapusua, 23. Chris Malone.


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