Preview: London Irish v Saracens

Date published: September 19 2014

185208783_3131113

Jebb Sinclair and Luke Narraway will both make their first starts of the season on Saturday as London Irish host Saracens.

Jebb Sinclair and Luke Narraway will both make their first starts of the season on Saturday as London Irish welcome Saracens.

Sinclair will start in the second-row alongside captain George Skivington, with Luke Narraway playing at number eight. Irish come into the match on a six-day turnaround, hence the rotation of the forward pack.

Tom Court, David Paice and Halani Aulika make up the front row with Blair Cowan and Ofisa Treviranus lining up alongside Luke Narraway on his first start in the back-row.

Chris Noakes and Scott Steele form the half-back pairing with Shane Geraghty and Fergus Mulchrone in the centre. Andrew Fenby, Alex Lewington and James Short form the back three.

“It is great to be playing our first match of the season at Madejski Stadium against Saracens,” said London Irish Director of Rugby, Brian Smith.

“We've made a couple of changes to inject some energy and enthusiasm. We have decided to go with a six two split on the bench as we know it will play a crucial role. Saracens are the form team right now so we'll have to be at our best, and we intend to be.”

Meanwhile, Chris Ashton is set to make his 50th appearance Saracens. The England winger has been named alongside Alex Goode and Chris Wyles in the Saracens back-three.

Tim Streather comes into the side to partner Brad Barritt at centre, whilst Owen Farrell replaces Charlie Hodgson at fly-half as Mark McCall rotates his squad.

In the pack, Rhys Gill starts at loosehead prop with Richard Barrington named on the bench. Jamie George continues at hooker, with Kieran Longbottom retaining the number three shirt.

Scotland international Jim Hamilton starts his first Premiership game for the club at lock, and starts alongside Hayden Smith at lock.

In the back row, Ernst Joubert makes a welcome return to action at blindside flanker, as does Jacques Burger who comes into the side at openside – Billy Vunipola continues at number eight.

Form: London Irish opened their winning account in Aviva Premiership Rugby with a narrow 20-18 victory at Newcastle on Sunday, Irish have not won back-to-back games in the tournament since February but have been victorious in their last two encounters at Madesjki Stadium. Saracens have begun the season with a pair of victories over London-based clubs, Wasps and 'Quins, and will be going for three in a row this week. Sarries only regular season defeat in the competition since London Irish beat them at Allianz Park in February came at Leicester in round 22. The Exiles have beaten Saracens in two of their last three meetings whilst Saracens only victory in Reading since 2007 was in April 2012.

The teams:

London Irish: 15 Andrew Fenby, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 James Short, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Scott Steele, 9 Luke Narraway, 7 Ofisa Treviranus, 6 Blair Cowan, 5 Jebb Sinclair, 4 George Skivington (c), 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Matt Parr, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Dan Leo, 20 Kieran Low, 21 Tom Guest, 22 Tomás O'Leary, 23 Eamonn Sheridan.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Tim Streather, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Ernst Joubert, 5 Hayden Smith, 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Jamie George, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Scott Spurling, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 James Johnston, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Duncan Taylor.

Date: Saturday, September 20
Venue: Madejski Sadium
Kick-off: 15.00 BST (14.00 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell, Nigel Carrick
TMO: David Grashoff

COMMENTS