London Irish v Bath Rugby preview

London Irish have lost their last eight games in all competitions since their 39-26 victory over Sale at Madejski Stadium on 31 October.

Bath Rugby’s only win in their last eight matches in all competitions was 29-19 at home to Cardiff Blues in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 5 November.


Bath’s most recent victory in Aviva Premiership Rugby was 31-16 against Sale at The Rec on 25 September.


The Exiles’ solo victory over Bath in their last seven encounters since February 2007 was 16-0 at the Rec on 28 November 2009.


London Irish will be honouring two of its stars at its New Year’s Day game.

Tribute will be paid at the game to London Irish Attack Coach and former England international and Bath Rugby star, Mike Catt, who has been awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list.

Also, South African prop, Faan Rautenbach, will lead the team out onto the pitch in celebration of his 100th appearance for the club which he marked up against Harlequins last Monday.


London Irish makes four changes to its starting fifteen this week. Young prop and England Saxon, Alex Corbisiero, who has just signed a two year contract extension, will start this week along with No 8 Chris Hala’ufia and centre Elvis Seveali’i. Rising Exiles’ star Matt Garvey joins Nick Kennedy in the second row. Scrum half Paul Hodgson captains the side.


London Irish Head Coach, Toby Booth said: “The squad is feeling positive, enthusiastic and energetic and we’re looking forward to a good game on Saturday. We’re only at the half way point in the Premiership, we’re fourth in the table and over the coming weeks we’ll be going all out to ensure we maintain that top four position.”


Bath Rugby captain, Luke Watson, will lead the side for the first time since November. With both sides suffering from a lack of form recently, tomorrow’s game will be vital in getting their respective seasons back on track, and Defence and Skills coach, Brad Davis, is quick to acknowledge the importance of the game to Bath’s Premiership ambitions.


“Both sides are scratching around to get a win – they will obviously be hunting to secure a home win as much as we will be aiming for an away victory.


“We have had a good training week after an extended Christmas break – the squad are back and totally focused on the job. We are well aware of what we need to do to climb the ladder and we are also aware what a threat London Irish hold as a team. They have been there or thereabouts in most of their games and you look at their team on paper and it’s a quality team. I’m sure, like us, they are looking to turn a corner and we have to make sure it’s not this week but the week after for them.


“Last year we took the game to them and got our just rewards so hopefully we will do the same again. A result this week when looking at the fixture list would give us good confidence with moving forwards and up the table. You don’t want to look too far ahead, but from this game we would love to come away with the maximum points possible which will then allow us to build on it through the coming months.”


Match : London Irish v Bath Rugby
Date : Saturday 1st January
Venue :Madejski Stadium
Kick Off : 3.15pm
Referee: Greg Garner (12th Premiership game)


Teams


London Irish : 15. Delon Armitage; 14. Topsy Ojo; 13. Elvis Seveali’i; 12. Dan Bowden; 11. Sailosi Tagicakibau; 10. Chris Malone; 9. Paul Hodgson(c); 1. Alex Corbisiero, 2. James Buckland; 3. Faan Rautenbach; 4. Nick Kennedy; 5. Matt Garvey; 6. Richard Thorpe; 7. Steffon Armitage; 8. Chris Hala’ufia.


Replacements: 16. Brian Blaney; 17. Clarke Dermody; 18. Dan Murphy; 19. Bob Casey; 20. George Stowers; 21. Seilala Mapusua; 22. Ryan Lamb; 23. Darren Allinson.


Bath Rugby : 15. Jack C

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