London Irish v Newcastle Falcons preview

Newcastle Falcons head coach Alan Tait has made two changes from the side that beat Exeter in the LV= Cup last week, for the trip to London Irish.

Kiwi Jeremy Manning returns to his favoured full back position with Luke Eves earning a recall to the centres after he came off the bench to score a late try last week.

There is also a place on the bench for Rob Vickerman who returns to the fold following a lengthy injury lay-off.

“We’ve got a team that is getting settled and we’ve got to take London Irish on up front first and foremost,” said Tait.

“One we’ve done that we will have to break down that back division which is pretty solid. They’re a formidable bunch and you just can’t afford to give them a lot of space.

“Defensively we’ve done well the last few games which is key to getting success but we’ve got to improve our attack to win these big games,” he added.

The Falcons’ only victory over London Irish since 2006 was in this equivalent fixture at Madejski Stadium last year.

London Irish have won their last two games at Madejski Stadium against Ospreys in the European Cup and Northampton in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

The Exiles have lost their last six matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby since their 39-26 home win over Sale on 31 October.

Newcastle Falcons’ six game winless run in all competitions came to an end at home to Exeter in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Sunday.

In Aviva Premiership Rugby Newcastle have won just once since round two: 12-6 against Gloucester at Kingston Park on 21 November.

London Irish have made five changes from the side that took on Gloucester last weekend with James Buckland and Alex Corbisiero coming back into the front row to join Paulica Ion after being away with the England Saxons for the last few weeks.

Kieran Low comes into the second row to partner Nick Kennedy fresh from England U20’s victory over Wales last weekend, with Kieran Roche moving to the back row. Paul Hodgson returns to partner Ryan Lamb at scrum half and Elvis Seveali’i starts at outside centre.

London Irish Head Coach, Toby Booth said: “It’s great to be getting back to the Aviva Premiership which is our primary focus during any season. It is vital that we start to build up momentum for the next run of games to ensure we power our way into contention for the play-offs and the final reckoning come May.”

Match : London Irish v Newcastle Falcons
Date : 12th February 2011
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Kick Off : 12:30
Referee: Martin Fox (63rd Premiership game)


London Irish : 15. Topsy Ojo; 14. Adam Thompstone; 13. Elvis Seveali’i; 12. Seilala Mapusua (Captain); 11. Sailosi Tagicakibau; 10. Ryan Lamb; 9. Paul Hodgson; 8. George Stowers, 7. Jamie Gibson; 6. Kieran Roche; 5. Kieran Low; 4. Nick Kennedy; 3. Paulica Ion; 2. James Buckland;1. Alex Corbisiero;

Replacements: 16. Rob Herring; 17. Will Johnson; 18. Clarke Dermody; 19. Gary Johnson; 20 Steffon Armitage; 21. Chris Malone; 22. Daniel Bowden; 23. Darren Allinson

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Jeremy Manning , 14 Luke Fielden , 13 Luke Eves , 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu , 11 Alex Tait , 10 Jimmy Gopperth , 9 Micky Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch , 6 Tim Swinson , 5 Andrew Van der Heijden , 4 James Hudson , 3 James Hall , 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Jonny Golding

Reserves :16 Rob Vickers , 17 Kieran Brookes , 18 Grant Shiells , 19 Filipo Levi , 20 Mark Wilson , 21 Hall Charlton , 22 Rob Vickerman , 23 Gcobani Bobo

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