Preview: London Irish v Bath

Date published: October 28 2011

Nick Kennedy will lead the Exiles onto the pitch to celebrate his 200th match, in Saturday's clash against Bath at the Madejski Stadium.

Nick Kennedy will lead the Exiles onto the pitch to celebrate his 200th match, in Saturday's clash against Bath at the Madejski Stadium.

Shontayne Hape is also set to start against his former club at inside centre.

Toby Booth has made five changes from the side that defeated Newcastle Falcons last week. Tom Homer and Topsy Ojo come into the starting XV on the left and right wings.

Dan Bowden will captain the side at fly half where he will combine with Darren Allinson while David Paice starts at hooker alongside Max Lahiff and Paulica Ion in the front row.

Booth expects a difficult task against the visitors.

“We're looking forward to getting back into the Aviva Premiership and it is important that we take the momentum we have built in recent weeks into tomorrow's game,” he said.

Bath are always a tough opponent and so we have the promise of some great action on the pitch in front of our home crowd again this week at the Madejski.”

Meanwhile, Stuart Hooper will lead Bath in only his first start since the game against Exeter Chiefs in September.

Hooper partners the returning Dave Attwood in the second row. Nathan Catt and Anthony Perenise scrum down on either side of the front row, with Lee Mears making his debut for the season at hooker.

Simon Taylor returns to the back row at number 8, with Ben Skirving shifting to the blindside, and Guy Mercer coming onto the openside.

Michael Claassens and Sam Vesty both return to the starting line-up, renewing their half-back partnership. In the back line, Matt Carraro partners Matt Banahan in the centre, Nick Abendanon reverts to full back and Tom Biggs lines up on the opposite wing to Olly Woodburn.

Form: London Irish's last four matches in all competitions have all been won by the home side on the day. The Exiles have lost just one of their last ten games at Madejski Stadium: 20-26 to Northampton in the Aviva Premiership on 23 April. Bath have won three of their last four encounters in all competitions. Bath have lost their last two away games in the Premiership, at Gloucester and Wasps. London Irish's only victory over Bath in their last eight clashes was 16-0 at the Rec on 28 November 2009.

The teams:

London Irish: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Tom Homer,10 Dan Bowden (c), 9. Darren Allinson, 8 Richard Thorpe, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Declan Danaher, 5 Bryn Evans, 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Paulica Ion, 2 David Paice, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 James Buckland, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Faan Rautenbach, 19 James Sandford, 20 Jebb Sinclair, 21 Adam Thompstone, 22 Steve Shingler, 23 Ross Samson.

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Matt Banahan, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Sam Vesty, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Ben Skirving, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 David Wilson, 19 Ryan Caldwell, 20 Andy Beattie, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Paul Roberts, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Date: Saturday, October 29
Kick-off: 14:30
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: David Rose