Preview – Northampton v London Irish

London Irish has announced a strong starting line-up for their final Guinness Premiership match of the season with Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday.

The Exiles make three changes to the team that defeated Worcester in their last home game of the season. The changes are in the pack where David Paice replaces Robbie Russell at hooker, Nick Kennedy starts in the second row and Declan Danaher takes over at openside flanker.

Mike Catt, Shane Geraghty, Faan Rautenbach and Barry Everitt continue to be unavailable for selection through injury. Bob Casey retains the captaincy in Catt’s absence.

Prop forward Tonga Lea’aetoa will complete a remarkable record on Saturday having played in every one of the Exiles’ 31 games this season, the only player in the squad to do so.

“Last season we won a total of 14 games, this year we’ve won 12 to date and would like to finish with 13 wins out of a much more demanding fixtures’ schedule,” said Brian Smith, London Irish Director of Rugby.

“We’ve announced as strong a squad as possible for tomorrow’s game and I know that all the players involved want to give of their best.

“Tomorrow afternoon will be an emotional occasion for us as it will be the final appearance in London Irish colours of a number of players, in particular Neal Hatley and Justin Bishop, who have given this club outstanding service. Have no doubt that we will want to send them all off with a win!

“Northampton have everything to play for so we are expecting plenty of fireworks in the early stages. No doubt it will be a case of backs to the wall but we are dangerous on the counter-attack and they will have to guard against that.’

Form: Northampton Saints must get at least two points and almost certainly more (depending on Worcester’s result) if they are to give themselves any chance of avoiding relegation for the first time since 1995. The Saints’ only win in their last eight matches in all competitions was 7-6 against Biarritz in San Sebastian on 1 April, whilst amazingly Northampton are yet to win at Franklin’s Gardens.

The Teams:

Northampton: Tbc…

London Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Justin Bishop, 13 Seilala Mapusua, 12 Nils Mordt, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Riki Flutey, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Phil Murphy, 7 Declan Danaher, 6 Kieran Roche, 5 Bob Casey (c), 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Tonga Lea’aetoa, 2 David Paice, 1 Neal Hatley.
Replacements: 16 Michael Collins, 17 Danie Coetzee, 18 James Hudson, 19 Gary Johnson, 20 Olivier Magne, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Delon Armitage.

Date: Saturday 28th April 2007
Time: 15.05
Venue: Franklins Gardens
Referee: Chris White
Touch judges: Paul Dix , Andy Watson
Assessor: Brian Campsall
Television match official: Andrew Turner


365 Digital

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