Preview: London Irish v Newcastle Falcons

Date published: January 8 2016

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Tom Coventry has made two changes to the side that faced Gloucester last week for Sunday’s Premiership encounter with Newcastle Falcons at the Madejski Stadium.

Jebb Sinclair replaces Blair Cowan in the back row and Topsy Ojo is named at full-back.

Tom Court, David Paice and Ben Franks start in the front row with Matt Symons captaining the side from lock alongside Will Lloyd. Sinclair starts at blindside, with Luke Narraway moving onto the openside flank and Ofisa Treviranus packing down at number eight.

Brendan McKibbin and Chris Noakes link up in the half-backs, with Johnny Williams and Ciaran Hearn named in the centre. Aseli Tikoirotuma and Alex Lewington start on the wings with Topsy Ojo named at full-back.

Tom Coventry said of his selection; “Last week was frustrating and the boys have worked really hard to build towards this game. We are looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd and we hope to give them a performance they can be proud of.”

Meanwhie, Newcastle Falcons travel to the Madjeski Stadium with a side showing only two changes from the side that defeated Bath.

Both changes come in the pack as the Falcons look to build upon their 19-14 win over Mike Ford's side and prepare to face an Irish team who have won their previous three matches at home in all competitions.

In an unchanged backline, Simon Hammersley retains the full-back jersey while Alex Tait and former London Irish academy member Marcus Watson remain on the wings.

Juan Pablo Socino and Chris Harris will again provide the Falcons centre partnership while Michael Young and Craig Willis form the half-back pairing, with the latter having kicked 14 of the Falcons' 19 points in last weekend's victory over Bath.

In the pack, Rob Vickers continues to close in on his 200th appearance for the club as he remains in at loosehead prop, while the two changes in the side see Scotland international Scott Lawson come in at hooker and signing Paddy Ryan at tighthead prop.

In the second row, Mark Wilson and Sean Robinson will continue their second row partnership for a third week, after performing well together against Leicester and Bath.

While there are no changes to the personnel in the back row, all three players have been rotated into different positions for the encounter against the Exiles.

Having shown a real abrasiveness at number eight in recent weeks, Nili Latu moves to the openside centre berth he made his first appearances at for the club, as Ally Hogg takes to the back of the scrum. Will Welch moves across to the blindside flank as a result, from where he will captain the side.

Possibly the most eagerly anticipated of the changes on the bench come within the replacement backs, as new signings Andy Goode and Jamie Booth both look to make their first team debuts for the Falcons as replacement fly-half and scrum-half.

Form: London Irish's only victory in their last 11 Premiership Rugby fixtures was 25-23 at home to Northampton in their most recent match at Madejski Stadium, the Exiles have actually won their last three matches in all competitions at the venue. Newcastle Falcons achieved their opening Premriship Rugby victory of the season in overcoming Bath at Kingston Park on Saturday, but have only been victorious once on the road in the competition since October 2013 – on a visit to London Welsh twelve months later. London Irish have won their last thee encounters with the Falcons in Premiership Rugby since Newcastle won 13-11 on their own turf on 27th October 2013. The Tynesiders have not been successful at Madejski Stadium in Premiership Rugby since a visit in November 2009.

The teams:

Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Luke Narraway, 6 Jebb Sinclair, 5 Will Lloyd, 4 Matt Symons (c), 3 Ben Franks, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court 
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Joe Trayfoot, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Fergus Mulchrone

Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Michael Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Nili Latu, 6 Will Welch (c), 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Mark Wilson, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Taione Vea, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Todd Clever, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Andy Goode, 23 Belisario Agulla

Date: Sunday, January 10
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Kick-off: 13:00 GMT
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Greg Garner, Roy Maybank
TMO: Graham Hughes

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