Preview: London Irish v Exeter

Date published: September 20 2013

London Irish have made three changes to their starting XV for Saturday's Premiership clash with Exeter at the Madejski Stadium.

London Irish have made three changes to their starting XV for Saturday's Aviva Premiership clash with Exeter Chiefs at the Madejski Stadium.

Fergus Mulchrone will partner Eamonn Sheridan in the centre with Declan Danaher and Bryn Evans joining Ofisa Treviranus in the back-row. Tomás O'Leary will continue as captain.

Brian Smith, Exiles Director of Rugby said: “We have been forced into a couple of changes for tomorrow. The boys that are stepping up are ready to go and excited at the opportunity. The Chiefs are a tough side and it will be a hard battle out there tomorrow.”

Former Dragons lock Ian Nimmo has joined the Exiles as cover for George Skivington and Kieran Low and has been named on the bench.

“We are really looking forward to having Ian onboard,” added Smith.

“He will bring plenty of size and experience to our pack in the short term absence of George and Kieran.”

Meanwhile, Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has challenged his side to “back up” last weekend's win over London Wasps by inflicting a similar outcome on Irish.

Having come unstuck at Northampton Saints on the opening day, the Chiefs responded in fine fashion by seeing off Wasps 30-26 on their own Sandy Park turf.

A week on from that triumph, Baxter has been preparing his troops for their latest top flight battle – and has warned that another big performance will be needed if they are to overcome the Exiles, who themselves netted their first win at Worcester Warriors.

And part of Exeter's pre-match preparation has been ensuring that mental attitudes are spot-on within the visiting ranks.

“It was great to get our season under way [against Wasps], get some points on the board and get off the bottom of the table, and the important thing now is to back that up,” said Baxter.

“I want to make sure that our attitude is not 'we've won a game of rugby, we can roll along now and everything's fine' because it's not.”

Although victorious last weekend, Baxter has been forced to tinker with his winning formula due to injuries sustained.

Number eight Dave Ewers has been ruled out with a hamstring problem, so England international Tom Johnson shuffles over from the blindside flank and Ben White is brought in for his first start of the season.

White's void on the bench is filled by Kai Horstmann, whilst the other change is also on the bench where Carl Rimmer replaces Craig Mitchell, who picked up a knock in Monday's A League game over Wasps

Form: London Irish beat Worcester at Sixways on Saturday, 20-18, thanks to an Ian Humphreys' penalty goal three minutes from time. The Exiles are unbeaten at Madejski Stadium in 2013, with their last defeat at the venue being at the hands of Leicester in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 22 December. Exeter Chiefs solo loss in their last half a dozen Premiership encounters was 11-38 at Northampton on the opening weekend of the season. The Chiefs have won their last three clashes with London Irish, since the Exiles most recent victory in the fixture, in Reading in December 2011.

The teams:

London Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Andrew Fenby, 10 Ian Humphreys; 9 Tomás O'Leary (c), 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Bryn Evans, 6 Declan Danaher, 5 Jebb Sinclair, 4 Nic Rouse, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Matt Parr.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 John Yapp, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Ian Nimmo, 20 Gerard Ellis, 21 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Darren Allinson.

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Jason Shoemark, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Tom Johnson, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Ben White, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (capt), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Carl Rimmer, 19 Tom Hayes, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Matt Jess.

Date: Saturday, September 21
Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Andy Watson, tba
Television match official: Sean Davey