London Irish v Bath Premiership Preview

Francois Louw returns to the Bath Rugby starting line-up after being on international duty with South Africa in the Rugby Championship for this week’s Premiership match against London Irish.

Louw comes into the back row, with Carl Fearns shifting to the blindside and Simon Taylor to Number 8. Ben Skirving is named on the bench.

There are also changes in the front row. Nathan Catt starts at loosehead and Anthony Perenise comes in on the other side of the scrum for David Wilson who picked up a knock in training. Lee Mears at hooker, and Stuart Hooper and Dominic Day in the engine room complete the pack.

The backs are unchanged from last week. Michael Claassens once more combines with Olly Barkley in the half-backs as Tom Biggs and Kyle Eastmond line-up on the wings. Ben Williams and Dan Hipkiss continue in the centres and Nick Abendanon is named at fullback.

There is also a notable return to the bench for Stephen Donald, who will make his first appearance of the season if called upon.

Whilst London Irish have yet to win this season, Head Coach Gary Gold is under no misconceptions of the threat they pose for Bath.

“We know that Irish are a very good side, who will obviously be looking to get off the mark, which actually makes them more of a potent threat for us. They have an unpredictability we will have to react to, and it will require us to be on top of our game in all areas to do that.”

London Irish have suffered three successive defeats and conceded 40 points or more on each occasion. No team in Premiership history has ever conceded 40 in four successive matches.

The Exiles only win in their last five games at Madejski Stadium came against Gloucester in May.

Bath Rugby’s perfect 100% winning start to the season was spoiled at home to Northampton on Friday. Madejski Stadium was one of just three away grounds at which Bath were successful in Aviva Premiership Rugby last season.

London Irish have won just one of their last ten clashes with Bath: 16-0 at The Rec on 28 November 2009.

London Irish have named Ian Humphreys in the starting line up for his Exiles debut.

Humphreys, who will form a half back combination with Tomas O’Leary, is one of four changes made by Brian Smith. Halani Aulika will start his first match for the Exiles lining up alongside Scott Lawson and Max Lahiff in the front row.

Matt Garvey joins Bryn Evans in the second row and Jamie Gibson has recovered from injury to be named in the back row. Steven Shingler moves from fly half to inside centre.

Brian Smith said: “Bath have made a good start to the season and have an excellent coaching and playing staff. Things are not currently where we want them to be but the season is a marathon so we have time to make up the lost ground. “

“We’ve done some very good things over the past few weeks and we need to build on these positives.”

Match : London Irish v Bath Rugby
Date : Saturday 22nd September
Venue : Madejski Stadium
Kick Off : 3pm
Live on: N/A
Referee: JP Doyle (46th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Pearce, Kevin Stewart



15. Nick Abendanon , 14. Kyle Eastmond , 13. Dan Hipkiss , 12. Ben Williams , 11. Tom Biggs , 10. Olly Barkley , 9. Michael Claassens, 8. Simon Taylor, 7. Francois Louw , 6. Carl Fearns , 5. Dominic Day, 4. Stuart Hooper (c) , 3. Anthony Perenise , 2. Lee Mears, 1. Nathan Catt

Replacements , 16. Ross Batty , 17. Paul James , 18. Kane Palma-Newport , 19. Dave Attwood , 20. Ben Skirving , 21. Mark McMillan , 22. Stephen Donald , 23. Jack Cuthbert

London Irish :

15. Tom Homer; 14. Topsy Ojo13. Jonathan Joseph; 12. Steven Shingler; 11. Marland Yarde 10. Ian Hum

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