London Irish v Worcester Premiership Preview

Worcester Warriors have named scrum-half Paul Hodgson in their team to face his former club London Irish at the Madejski Stadium in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday

The 30-year-old racked-up more than 150 appearances for London Irish before opting for a fresh challenge and will be aiming to help Warriors complete a league double over the team one place below them in the table.

Head Coach Richard Hill has also named one change in his forward pack as John Andress comes in at tighthead prop for Euan Murray, who is named on the bench.

The Sixways side have been bolstered by the return to fitness of Chris Jones and Semisi Taulava, who are both named amongst the replacements.

The duo, who have been out of action since January, will add crucial firepower as Warriors search for their first win at the Madejski Stadium since 2005.

Hill said: “We’ve had a three-week break without a game so the major focus for us has been on how we get ourselves mentality and physically prepared for this game to ensure we hit the ground running.

“We desperately want to get our first away victory of the season. We’d love to do it against London Irish and there’s no reason why we can’t.

“We had a close run game at Harlequins in November and nearly did it down at Kingsholm last month but we have to go that one step further.

“London Irish play well at home. They’ve got some very talented runners and they throw the ball about. And if you don’t tackle them properly they will cut you apart.

“But our preparation over the last two weeks has been good and I’m happy with the progress we’re making.

London Irish have won their last four matches at Madejski Stadium in all competitions – their best home run since April 2011. The Exiles have won just one of their last three Aviva Premiership Rugby contests.

Worcester Warriors’ five match losing streak ended last time out with their 29-23 home Premiership victory over London Wasps.

The Warriors’ only two away wins since 2011 have both been in the European Challenge Cup, at Gernika and Rovigo.

Worcester won 35-11 when the two clubs met in round five of the Premiership, and the Warriors are going for a first ever league double over the Exiles.

The West Midlanders have already been defeated at Madejski Stadium this season: 24-46 in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 27 January,

Second row forward, George Skivington, will captain London Irish while Max Lahiff, David Paice and Halani Aulika make up the front row.

Skivington is joined by Bryn Evans and Matt Garvey joins Ofisa Treviranus and Chris Hala’ufia in the back row.

Pat Phibbs will partner Ian Humphreys and Shane Geraghty and Guy Armitage will team up in the centres.

Marland Yarde, Topsy Ojo and Tom Homer make up the back three. Jonathan Joseph has recovered from injury to be named as a replacement.

London Irish Director of Rugby, Brian Smith said: “It will be great to be playing back at Madejski Stadium in front of our home crowd on Saturday in such an important occasion. “

“Worcester are coming off a good win and will come in confident mood. The St Patrick’s Party is always a memorable day and let’s hope the St Patrick smiles down on us on Saturday.”

Match : London Irish v Worcester Warriors
Date : Saturday 23rd March
Venue : Madejski Stadium
Kick Off : 3pm
Live on: N/A
Match Officials
Referee
: Wayne Barnes (118th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Pearce & Peter Huckle.

Teams

London Irish

15. Tom Homer; 14. Topsy Ojo; 13. Guy Armitage; 12. Shane Geraghty; 11. Marland Yarde; 10. Ian Humphreys; 9. Pat Phibbs; 1. Max Lahiff; 2. David Paice; 3. Halani Aulika; 4. George Skivington (Captain); 5. Bryn Evans; 6. Matt Garvey; 7. Ofisa Treviranus; 8. Ch

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