Preview: London Irish v Bath

Seventh plays six in the Guinness Premiership on Friday evening as London Irish host Bath at the Madejski Stadium.

Bath Head Coach Steve Meehan has handed first starts of the season to David Flatman and Nick Walshe following last week’s nail-biting victory over Sale Sharks at The Rec.

Meanwhile, the Irish have made five changes to the side that lost at Bristol last Sunday, as Director of Rugby Brian Smith attempts to freshen up his squad.

Centre Seilala Mapusua returns from Samoa World Cup duty and slots straight in at number thirteen with fellow countryman Sailosi Tagicakibau named on the wing.

“Seilala Mapusua returns to our team having played well for Samoa during the Rugby World Cup,” said Smith.

“His experience and physical presence will be a great boost to our young backline and we’re looking to him to play a decisive role in midfield.”

Elsewhere, there is a start for former Munster fly-half Eoghan Hickey in place of the injured Shane Geraghty and Jeremy Staunton.

“We face another tough examination of our early season credentials tomorrow evening,” added Smith.

“Bath arrive in Reading having enjoyed a good start to their season. To make things a little more challenging for us we’ve only had five days to sort ourselves out after a very physical match.

“It’s not ideal preparation but I’m confident that we’ll strike back after last weekend’s setback.”

Form: The Exiles have won seven of their last eight fixtures at the Madejski Stadium and also boast the fact that they have beaten their opponents on their previous four meetings. Bath’s away record in the Guinness Premiership reads just one victory on their travels since February 2006.

London Irish: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Seilala Mapusua, 12 Nils Mordt, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Eoghan Hickey, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Richard Thorpe, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Declan Danaher, 5 Bob Casey (c), 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Faan Rautenbach, 2 David Paice, 1 Tonga Lea’aetoa
Replacements: 16 Tom Warren, 17 Stuart Mackie, 18 Dan Murphy, 19 James Hudson, 20 Kieran Roche, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Mark Ireland.

Bath: 15 Michael Stephenson, 14 Andy Higgins, 13 Tom Cheeseman, 12 Shaun Berne, 11 Ian Davey, 10 Ryan Davis, 9 Nick Walshe, 8 Zak Feaunati (c), 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Jonny Faamatuainu, 5 Danny Grewcock, 4 Peter Short, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 David Flatman.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 David Barnes, 18 Paulica Ion, 19 Daniel Browne, 20 Michael Lipman, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Nick Abendanon.

Date: Friday, 4 October 2007
Kick-off: 20:00 BST (19:00 GMT)
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: Sean Davey
Touch judges: Ashley Reay, Paul Dix
Television match official: Laurie Bryant


365 Digital

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