Preview: London Irish v Leicester

Date published: February 20 2015

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Scotland international Geoff Cross returns to the London Irish starting line-up to face Leicester Tigers on Sunday in the Premiership.
 
London Irish head coach Glenn Delaney has largely stuck to the side that pushed Northampton Saints to the edge last week, with Cross packing down alongside Tom Court and David Paice in the front row. George Skivington captains the side from the second row alongside Jebb Sinclair with Ofisa Treviranus, Conor Gilsenan and Tom Guest in the back row.
 
Scott Steele and Shane Geraghty remain in the half-backs, with the unchanged centre partnership of Eamonn Sheridan and Fergus Mulchrone alongside them.
 
Tom Fowlie retains his place on one wing, linking up with Topsy Ojo and Andrew Fenby in the back three. Chris Noakes returns from injury to be named amongst the backs replacements with Darren Allinson and Alex Lewington.
 
“It is great to have Geoff back available with Halani picking up a calf injury," said Delaney. 

"He has done really well with Scotland and we hope that form continues. We have gone pretty much with the side that played last week as they put in a good performance and we are looking to build some consistency going into a big few weeks for the Club.”

Meanwhile, Jordan Crane will captain Leicester Tigers at London Irish on Sunday in his 200th appearance for the club.
 
Number eight Crane made his debut for Tigers in 2006 and becomes the 91st player to reach the 200 mark since the club's formation in 1880.
 
Hooker Tom Youngs and flanker Tom Croft return to Tigers colours at the Madejski Stadium after being among the England replacements for the victories over Wales and Italy in the opening weeks of the Six Nations.
 
Jack Roberts earns a first Premiership start at centre after some eye-catching form in recent weeks, while Miles Benjamin returns on the wing.
 
Ben Youngs and Dan Cole are unavailable as they are retained in the England squad after starting both Six Nations fixtures, while Robert Barbieri and Leonardo Ghiraldini are ruled out by injuries suffered on international duty with Italy in recent weeks. Julian Salvi is also sidelined by injury this week.

Form: London Irish’s last five Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures have all been won by the home side on the day. The Exiles have won their last two Premiership Rugby games at Madejski Stadium but have not won three in succession at home in the tournament for almost two years. Leicester Tigers' only defeat in their last four Aviva Premiership Rugby matches was at Harlequins in Round 13. Tigers have not scored a Premiership Rugby try for 223 minutes, their longest barren spell in the tournament since November 2010. Tigers have won on their last five visits to Madejski Stadium since 24 October 2009. London Irish beat Leicester 22-19 in Round Four of Aviva Premiership Rugby and are going for a first season’s double over the East Midlanders since 2002/03.

The teams:

London Irish: 15 Andrew Fenby, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Tom Fowlie, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Conor Gilsenan, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Jebb Sinclair, 4 George Skivington (c), 3 Geoff Cross, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 Matt Parr, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Nic Rouse, 20 Luke Narraway, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Chris Noakes, 23 Alex Lewington

Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 George Catchpole, 12 Jack Roberts, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Jordan Crane (c), 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Sebastian de Chaves, 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Laurence Pearce, 21 David Mélé, 22 Seremaia Bai, 23 Niall Morris

Date: Sunday, February 22
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Ashley Rowden
TMO: David Sainsbury

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