London Irish v Newcastle Falcons Premiership Preview

London Irish host Exeter Chiefs at the Madejski Stadium

Newcastle Falcons have named a side with two changes for this weekend’s Aviva Premiership match against London Irish at the Madjeski Stadium.

Both changes to the side that defeated Bath at Kingston Park come in the pack as the Falcons look to build upon their 19-14 win over Mike Ford’s side and prepare to face an Irish team who have won their previous three matches at home in all competitions.

In an unchanged backline, Simon Hammersley retains the fullback jersey while Alex Tait and former London Irish academy member Marcus Watson remain on the wings.

Juan Pablo Socino and Chris Harris will again provide the Falcons centre partnership while Michael Young and Craig Willis form the half back pairing, with the latter having kicked 14 of the Falcons’ 19 points in last weekend’s victory over Bath.

In the pack, Rob Vickers continues to close in on his 200th appearance for the club as he remains in at loosehead prop, while the two changes in the side see forty six-times capped Scotland international Scott Lawson come in at hooker and summer signing Paddy Ryan at Tighthead Prop.

In the second row, Mark Wilson and Sean Robinson will continue their second row partnership for a third week, after performing well together against Leicester and Bath.

While there are no changes to the personnel in the back row, all three players have been rotated into different positions for the encounter against the Exiles.

Having shown a real abrasiveness at number eight in recent weeks, Nili Latu moves to the openside centre berth he made his first appearances at for the club, as Ally Hogg takes to the back of the scrum. Will Welch moves across to the blindside flank as a result, from where he will captain the side.

With Lawson and Ryan having moved into the starting XV the Falcons’ bench includes four changes from last weekend, George McGuigan and Taione Vea taking their place alongside Alex Rogers as front row replacements.

Possibly the most eagerly anticipated of those changes come within the replacement backs though as new signings Andy Goode and Jamie Booth both look to make their first team debuts for the Falcons as replacement Fly Half and Scrum Half respectively.

England international Mouritz Botha will once again provide back up at Lock while USA international Todd Clever provides a further back row option and Argentine international Belisario Agulla completes the Falcons bench.

The two clubs have exchanged places at the foot of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table for the past two rounds, with neither side yet tallying any bonus points this season.

London Irish’s only victory in their last 11 Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures was 25-23 at home to Northampton in their most recent match at Madejski Stadium, the Exiles have actually won their last three matches in all competitions at the venue.

Newcastle Falcons achieved their opening Aviva Premriship Rugby victory of the season in overcoming Bath at Kingston Park on Saturday, but have only been victorious once on the road in the competition since October 2013 – on a visit to London Welsh twelve months later.

London Irish have won their last thee encounters with the Falcons in Aviva Premiership Rugby since Newcastle won 13-11 on their own turf on 27th October 2013.

The Tynesiders have not been successful at Madejski Stadium in Premiership Rugby since a visit in November 2009.

Meanwhile London Irish boss Tom Coventry has made two changes to the side that faced Gloucester last week as Jebb Sinclair replaces Blair Cowan in the back row and Topsy Ojo is named at full back.

Tom Court, David Paice and Ben Franks start in the front row with Matt Symons captaining the side from lock alongside Will Lloyd. Sinclair starts at blindside, with Luke Narraway moving onto the openside flank and Ofisa Treviranus packing down at number eight.

Brendan McKibbin and Chris Noakes link up in the half backs, with Johnny Williams and Ciaran Hearn named in the centre. Aseli Tikoirotuma and Alex Lewington start on the wings with Topsy Ojo named at full back.

Tom Coventry said of his selection; “Last week was frustrating and the boys have worked really hard to build towards this game. We are looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd and we hope to give them a performance they can be proud of.”

The Bookies have given London Irish a 5 point start for this Match – with an offer of up to £200 in Bonus bets.

Match : London Irish v Newcastle Falcons
Date :  Saturday 9 January
Venue : Madejski Stadium
Kick Off : 1pm
Live on: BT Sport
Match Officials
Referee :JP Doyle (103rd Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Greg Garner & Roy Maybank.
TMO: Graham Hughes.


London Irish

15. Topsy Ojo, 14. Alex Lewington; 13. Ciaran Hearn, 12. Johnny Williams; 11. Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10. Chris Noakes; 9. Brendan McKibbin; 1. Tom Court, 2. David Paice, 3. Ben Franks, 4. Matt Symons (Captain); 5. Will Lloyd; 6. Jebb Sinclair, 7. Luke Narraway, 8. Ofisa Treviranus

Replacements: 16. Gerard Ellis; 17. Tom Smallbone; 18. Halani Aulika, 19. Joe Trayfoot; 20. Blair Cowan, 21. Scott Steele; 22. Shane Geraghty, 23. Fergus Mulchrone

Newcastle Falcons

15. Simon Hammersley, 14. Alex Tait, 13. Chris Harris, 12. Juan Pablo Socino, 11. Marcus Watson, 10. Craig Willis, 9. Michael Young, 8. Ally Hogg., 7. Nili Latu, 6. Will Welch (c), 5. Sean Robinson, 4. Mark Wilson, 3. Paddy Ryan, 2. Scott Lawson, 1. Rob Vickers

16. George McGuigan, 17. Alex Rogers, 18. Taione Vea, 19. Mouritz Botha, 20. Todd Clever, 21. Jamie Booth, 22. Andy Goode, 23. Belisario Agulla.

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