Saracens v London Irish Premiership Preview

Saracens host London Irish at Allianz Park

London Irish have named Scotland internationals Blair Cowan and Sean Maitland to start against Saracens in Saturday’s Aviva Premiership fixture at Allianz Park.

Maitland will make his starting debut in the back three alongside Topsy Ojo and Aseli Tikoirotuma.

Tom Fowlie retains his place at outside centre with Fergus Mulchrone starting at inside centre in place of Eoin Griffin. Chris Noakes and Brendan McKibbin combine for the third successive game at half back.

Tom Smallbone, David Paice and Halani Aulika line up in the front row with captain George Skivington and Matt Symons in the second row. Jebb Sinclair, Blair Cowan and Rob McCusker make up the back row.

London Irish Head Coach, Tom Coventry, said: “Saturday’s fixture presents us with another tough challenge against strong opposition. The squad have reacted well to last week’s disappointment and we have enjoyed an intense training week. We look forward to the contest and representing the Club with passion.”

Saracens are one of only two sides to have begun the new Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign with a pair of victories – the other being Leicester Tigers.

The champions have won their last five fixtures in the tournament since losing 20-24 to Exeter Chiefs at Allianz Park in May.

London Irish are one of only two sides to have begun the new season with two losses, the other is Newcastle Falcons.

The Exiles are without a win since they beat Sale Sharks 25-23 at Reading in round 19, whilst their most recent away victory came at London Welsh in February.

London Irish are one of only three sides to have beaten Saracens at Allianz Park in Premiership Rugby, the others are Northampton Saints (twice) and Exeter Chiefs.

Meanwhile Saracens have named Club captain Alistair Hargreaves to make his first start of the season as Saracens look to build upon their 100% start to the season on Rugby World Cup Final day.

Hargreaves will be captaining a side that includes a front row that has a combined number 350 Saracens appearances to their name with experienced props Rhys Gill and Petrus Du Plessis packing down alongside Jamie George.

In the back row, Ernst Joubert is named at No8, with Jackson Wray (blindside) and Will Fraser (openside) flanking the experienced South African.

At half-back, Ben Spencer comes into the side at scrumhalf and he will partner England No10 Owen Farrell, who starts his first home game of the season.

Duncan Taylor returns to the side to partner Nick Tompkins at centre, with Alex Goode, Mike Ellery and Chris Ashton continuing in the back three.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game, Director of Rugby Mark McCall said: “”We are facing a new-look London Irish side under the tutelage of a great coach, in Tom Coventry, who I’m sure will be very successful in the Premiership.

“They, much like ourselves they have some players returning from Rugby World Cup duty to link-up with a very strong squad. We know that we will have to be at our very best if we are to come away with the spoils.”

Match : Saracens v London Irish
Date : Allianz Park,
Venue : Saturday 31st October
Kick Off : 1pm
Live on: N.A
Match Officials
Referee :Greg Garner (84th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Simon McConnell and Paul Dix.
TMO: Trevor Fisher



15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Mike Ellery, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser , 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Alistair Hargreaves ©, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Jamie George, 1 Rhys Gill

Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Jacques Burger, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Brad Barritt, 23 Chris Wyles

London Irish

15. Topsy Ojo, 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Tom Fowlie; 12. Fergus Mulchrone; 11. Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10. Chris Noakes; 9. Brendan McKibbin; 1. Tom Smallbone; 2. David Paice, 3. Halani Aulika, 4. George Skivington (C); 5. Matt Symons; 6. Jebb Sinclair, 7. Blair Cowan, 8. Rob McCusker*

Replacements: 16. Gerard Ellis; 17. Tom Court, 18. Leo Halavatau; 19. Eoin Sheriff; 20. David Sisi; 21. Scott Steele; 22. Shane Geraghty, 23. Alex Lewington

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