Preview: London Irish v Bath

Date published: November 6 2015

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Fly-half Rhys Priestland will make his first start for Bath away to London Irish on Saturday at Madejski Stadium.

The Welshman comes in alongside scrum-half Chris Cook, who makes his second start of the season. 

The wings remain unchanged from last weekend’s match as does the centre combination. At 15, Tom Homer will play against his former club for the first time. 

Front row trio Nick Auterac, Rob Webber and Henry Thomas start together for the first time since last December’s clinical 16-39 victory against Gloucester at Kingsholm. 

Captain Stuart Hooper and Dom Day are named in the second row, with Matt Garvey, Alafoti Faosiliva and Leroy Houston forming a powerful ball-carrying back row. 

On the bench, loosehead prop Nathan Catt is in line to make an eagerly-awaited return from injury, whilst promising Academy forwards Tom Ellis and Max Northcote-Green are also among the replacements. 

Meanwhile, London Irish Head Coach Tom Coventry has made five changes.

Leo Halavatau comes in to starting line-up in the front row alongside David Paice and Tom Smallbone. Tom Guest and David Sisi start in the backrow to play alongside Rob McCusker.

Brendan McKibbin and Shane Geraghty form a new-half back combination. Aseli Tikiorotuma and Topsy Ojo are joined by Alex Lewington in the back three.

Dom Waldouck has recovered from injury to be named among the replacements along with Gerard Ellis, Tom Court, Halani Aulika, Eoin Sheriff, Luke Narraway, Scott Steele and Chris Noakes.

"We made significant strides last week in our performance against Saracens and it is important we build on that progress against Bath tomorrow afternoon," said Coventry. 

"We have made changes for this week and those that have come in to the squad are there on merit We look forward to playing at home again, and putting on a good display in front of our supporters."

Form: London Irish’s most recent Aviva Premiership Rugby victory was at home to Sale on 12 April. The Exiles were defeated 16-28 by Leicester in their previous game at Madejski Stadium and have not lost successive Premiership Rugby fixtures at the venue since last November. Bath have slipped to back-to-back defeats at Wasps and at home to Harlequins but have not lost three in a row since February. Bath have won on seven of their last eight visits to Madejski Stadium. 

The teams:

London Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Tom Fowlie, 12 Fergus Mulchrone, 11 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Rob McCusker, 7 David Sisi, 6 Tom Guest, 5 Matt Symons, 4 George Skivington (C), 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Smallbone.
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Tom Court, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Eoin Sheriff, 20 Luke Narraway, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Chris Noakes, 23 Dom Waldouck
 
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Alafoti Faosiliva, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dom Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Nick Auterac.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Tom Ellis, 20 Max Northcote-Green, 21 Niko Matawalu, 22 George Ford, 23 Jeff Williams.

Date: Saturday, November 7
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant referees: Wayne Falla, Nigel Carrick
TMO: Rowan Kitt

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