Preview: London Irish v Newcastle

Date published: March 27 2015

George Skivington returns to captain London Irish in their Saint Patrick's Day fixture against Newcastle on Saturday.

The second row isn't the only player to come back into the side, with Blair Cowan also back from internationa duty with Scotland.

Tom Court, David Paice and Halani Aulika make up the front row with Skivington and Nic Rouse forming the second row partnership. Conor Gilsenan, Cowan and Tom Guest are named as the back row trio.

Scott Steele and Shane Geraghty form the half-back pairing with Irish duo Eamonn Sheridan and Eoin Griffin in the centre. Tom Fowlie, Alex Lewington and Andrew Fenby make up the back three.

"The St Patrick’s fixture is a great occasion in the London Irish calendar and the players and coaches alike are looking forward to the day," said head coach Glenn Delaney. 

"Newcastle are playing some great rugby and have a solid driving game and attacking threats in their backline. It will be a tough test but one we are relishing."

The Falcons welcome back an international of their own in Kieran Brookes, and have made three changes from the team that lost to Leicester last time out.

Brookes returns from England international duty to start in the front row, while Noah Cato and Gonzalo Tiesi both return from injury to take their respective places in the back line.

Joining Brookes in the Falcons’ front row are Scotland international hooker Scott Lawson, and Rob Vickers at loosehead. Elsewhere in the scrum the club’s line up remains unchanged, with Kane Thompson and Dom Barrow taking up their positions in the second row while Richard Mayhew and captain Will Welch take up the flanker roles and Mark Wilson retains the number eight shirt.

Alex Tait continues at full-back, with Falcons’ top try scorer Sinoti Sinoti and Cato on the wings, Cato stepping in for Alex Tuilagi following the latter’s hamstring pull in training earlier this week.

Adam Powell moves to inside centre partnered for this game by Tiesi, with Juan Pablo Socino moving to the bench this week to make way for his countryman. Completing the starting line up are Tom Catterick at ten and Ruki Tipuna at scrum-half.

Returning Italian international Josh Furno starts the game on the bench; while Juan Pablo Orlandi is also named amongst the replacements after recovering from the pectoral injury which ruled him out against Leicester.

Form: Irish's seven biggest home attendance figures have all been set at St Patrick's Party games. Newcastle have already won at Madejski Stadium this season, 31-13 in an LV= Cup pool game last month, but have won just once at the venue in Aviva Premiership Rugby since 2006. The Exiles have won just two games at Madejski Stadium in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season, against London Welsh and Exeter Chiefs.

The teams:

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

Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Tom Catterick, 9 Ruki Tipuna, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Richard Mayhew, 5 Dom Barrow, 4 Kane Thompson, 4 Kane Thompson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Juan Orlandi, 19 Josh Furno, 20 Andy Saull, 21 Andy Davies, 22 Juan Socino, 23 Chris Harris

Date: Saturday, March 28
Venue: Madejski Stadium, Reading
Kickoff: 15:00
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Kelvin Stewart, Andrew Pearce
TMO: Stuart Terheege