London Irish v Gloucester Rugby Premiership Preview

London Irish host Gloucester at the Madejski Stadium

London Irish have made two changes to their team to play Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday having returned from New Jersey.

Tom Court replaces Tom Smallbone at loose head prop, while Will Lloyd comes in for Elliott Stooke at second-row as the Exiles look to secure valuable Premiership points in front of what will be the biggest home crowd of the campaign so far.

Exiles Head Coach Tom Coventry sticks with the same backline that served him well for large periods of last weekend’s 26-16 defeat to Saracens, with Greig Tonks retaining the fly-half berth.

“We need to perform well and the signs are good – we played well against Saracens, but unfortunately we let them get away at the end of the game,” said Coventry.

He added: “If we continue to grow and come up with a collegial approach to the game, then I’m sure we will be okay. We had a great week in the US and we were very well hosted by the New York Jets.

“It was disappointing not to get the win over Saracens, but we played some very good rugby. On our return to England it was all about getting the lads through recovery and preparing them for this weekend’s game.

“We feel well prepared and things have gradually built as we’ve got closer to the game.”

This is the 16th “St Patrick’s Day” fixture played at Madejski Stadium where London Irish’s record is won eight, lost seven.

The Exiles have won three of their last four Premiership encounters at Madejski Stadium only losing there to Exeter Chiefs in round 13.

Gloucester Rugby’s last five fixtures in Aviva Premiership Rugby have all gone with home field advantage.

Away from home, the Cherry & Whites have won just one of their last seven trips in Premiership Rugby: 15-11 at Bath on 5th February.

London Irish have won only one of their last nine encounters with Gloucester in all tournaments: 18-12 at Kingsholm in Premiership Rugby in January 2013, whilst Gloucester have won on their last four visits to Reading.

New Zealander Tom Marshall will make his Gloucester Rugby debut on Sunday when he lines up at full-back as the Cherry and Whites make five changes to their starting XV from last time out.

Marshall joined Gloucester from Super Rugby’s Chiefs last summer but has been rehabbing from knee surgery. However, he is now ready to play his part in the end of season run in.

His inclusion is one of three changes to the back line from last weekend’s defeat at Worcester. Callum Braley, who replaced Willi Heinz after just six minutes at Sixways, starts at scrum-half while Henry Trinder takes over from David Halaifonua on the left wing.

There are two changes in the pack. Mariano Galarza comes in for Tom Savage and will partner Jeremy Thrush in the second row, while Lewis Ludlow will start at number eight in place of Ross Moriarty who is on Six Nations duty with Wales.

Meanwhile, amongst the replacements, Gareth Evans is set for just his second appearance of the season and there is a call up for England U18 scrum-half Harry Randall.

Match : London Irish v Gloucester Rugby
Date : Sunday 20 March
Venue : Madejski Stadium,
Kick Off : 3pm
Live on: N.A
Match Officials
Referee :Matthew Carley (41st Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell & Paul Dix.
TMO: Trevor Fisher.

Teams

London Irish

15 Sean Maitland, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Topsy Ojo, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Scott Steele, 1 Tom Court, 2 Tom Cruse, 3 Halani Aulika, 4 Will Lloyd, 5 Matt Symons, 6 Luke Narraway (c), 7 Blair Cowan, 8 Rob McCusker

Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Jerry Sexton, 20 Jebb Sinclair, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Fergus Mulchrone

Gloucester

15. Tom Marshall; 14. Charlie Sharples, 13. Bill Meakes, 12. Billy Twelvetrees (capt), 11. Henry Trinder; 10. James Hook, 9. Callum Braley; 1. Nick Wood, 2. Richard Hibbard, 3. John Afoa; 4. Jeremy Thrush, 5. Mariano Galarza; 6. Sione Kalamafoni, 7. Matt Kvesic, 8. Lewis Ludlow

Replacements:16. Darren Dawidiuk, 17. Yann Thomas, 18. Paul Doran-Jones, 19. Tom Savage, 20. Gareth Evans, 21. Harry Randall, 22. Mark Atkinson, 23. Rob Cook

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