Preview: London Irish v Northampton

Date published: January 28 2011

London Irish have made six changes from the side that took on Munster last weekend for Sunday's LV= Cup clash with Northampton.

London Irish has made six changes from the side that took on Munster last weekend for Sunday's LV= Cup clash with Northampton Saints at the Madejski Stadium.

Dan Murphy, Brian Blaney and Paulica Ion will make up the front row with Kieran Roche coming into the second row to partner Nick Kennedy.

Steffon Armitage returns at openside flanker with Chris Hala'ufia at number eight and Jamie Gibson on the blindside flank.

In the backs, Ryan Lamb comes back in at fly-half with Dan Bowden moving into the centres.

“We showed great commitment last week and the defensive effort was outstanding,” said London Irish coach, Toby Booth.

“This week presents a new challenge which as a squad we will rise to. If we play the rugby we have done in the last few weeks, we will have every chance of coming out on top.”

Meanwhile, Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder says he wants the Saints' LV= Cup run to continue in Reading.

The Saints are the current LV= Cup holders, and although they currently lie third in Pool 3 the team remains unbeaten with one win and a draw from the two matches so far, and Mallinder is looking for the team to continue its record in the competition.

“We're proud of our LV= Cup record over the past 18 months and we don't want to give it up,” he said.

“We are still unbeaten in this year's competition and can still qualify for the knockout stages. All we can do is keep trying to achieve positive results and everyone at the club has been working very hard towards that this week.”

Mallinder has handed two players their first team debuts – lock Adam Eustace and wing Scott Armstrong. Joe Ford and Alex Waller also make their first starts while Calum Clark continues his record as having been involved in every Saints game this season.

“It does not matter who is wearing the shirt – they are always representing the Saints,” said the Saints boss.

“Everyone who has been selected for Sunday's game deserves their opportunity and they have been desperate to play all season. We've got a tough run of games coming up in the LV= Cup and Aviva Premiership and we need everyone ready to play.”

The teams:

London Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Seilala Mapusua*; 12. Dan Bowden, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Chris Hala'ufia, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Kieran Roche, 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Brian Blaney,1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring; 17 Will Johnson, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Kieran Low, 20 George Stowers, 21Richard Thorpe, 22 Elvis Seveali'i, 23 Alfredo Lalanne.

Northampton: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Scott Armstrong, 13 Jamie Elliott, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 Bruce Reihana, 10 Joe Ford, 9 Stuart Commins, 8 Mark Easter, 7 Ben Nutley, 6 Calum Clark (c), 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Adam Eustace, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Brett Sharman, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Andy Long, 17 Regardt Dreyer, 18 Ben Prescott, 19 Tom Hicks, 20 James Ingle, 21 Ryan Glynn, 22 Glyn Hughes, 23 Matt Cornwell.