Preview: London Irish v Wasps

Date published: May 15 2015

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Shane Geraghty has been named captain for London Irish's final game of the season against Wasps at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday.

Geraghty will take over the captaincy from George Skivington who has been ruled out through injury.

London Irish head coach, Glenn Delaney, has made two changes to his starting line-up for the Round 22 clash, with Dan Leo being named alongside Jebb Sinclair in the second row behind an unchanged front row of Tom Court, David Paice and Richard Palframan.

The back row of Luke Narraway, Tom Guest and Blair Cowan is also unchanged, with Darren Allinson returning from injury to come in at scrum-half.

Chris Noakes starts at fly-half, with Geraghty leading the side from inside centre with Eoin Griffin outside him. Alex Lewington, James Short and Andrew Fenby are named in an unchanged back three.

Speaking of his selection Delaney said; "We have been hit with a few injuries this week.

"Shane steps up to captain the side in place of George. We are also pleased to have Darren back; he has been great for us all season so it is a big boost to the whole squad to have him back on the field.

"We are looking forward to the game against strong opposition.”

Meanwhile, Wasps' director of rugby Dai Young has made four changes to his starting line-up as the side aims to secure their targeted top-six finish and European Champions Cup qualification.

There is a new look half-back combination with scrum-half Charlie Davies starting alongside Andy Goode, after Joe Simpson suffered a medial ligament strain against Leicester Tigers which will see him undergo six to eight weeks of rehab.

Goode, Davies and Tom Lindsay, starting at hooker in place of the injured Carlo Festuccia, have the chance to bow out on a high if they can get the win on their last outing for Wasps.

In the back row, Guy Thompson starts at number eight alongside captain James Haskell and Ashley Johnson, who will again cover hooker. Nathan Hughes has flown to New Zealand to be with his wife Ella for the birth of their first baby.

Having impressed during his cameo from the bench against Leicester last Saturday, following six months on the side-lines, Joe Launchbury is ready to take his place in the starting line-up, alongside James Gaskell.

Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “It couldn’t be tee'd up any better as a final game of the season. Whether our season has been a success or not, boils down to one game now. It’s a proper Cup Final for us.

“We know what we have to do. We’ve worked really hard to put ourselves in a position where we can reach our season’s goal of attaining a top-six finish.

"We’re not underestimating the task in front of us – London Irish are a difficult team to play against. They probably haven’t had the results this season that they deserve, but they are a dangerous team.

“We know we will have to play to the standards we have played at for 90 percent of the season. If we can reach that, then I’m sure we will be good enough to get the result.

“We have more to lose going into the game than London Irish do, so the pressure is probably more on us than it is on them. But that’s the type of pressure you have to live with if you want to achieve things in professional sport.

“I’ve never been one to hope other teams do you a favour. The reality is, it’s in our own hands. If we don’t get the result we need on the weekend and therefore don’t attain our goal, we will only have ourselves to blame.

“Yes, we’re missing some key players who have been outstanding for Wasps this season, but injuries are part and parcel of professional sport at this stage of the season. 

"You need to deal with that and use the depth of the squad and we have talented players who I ‘m sure will do a good job for us.”

Form: London Irish are already confirmed as 10th place finishers in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season and have been defeated in their last two encounters in the competition, at Bath and at Gloucester. The Exiles have lost just once at Madesjski Stadium since November: 6-12 to Leicester Tigers in round 15. Wasps require a minimum of two points from this encounter the ensure qualification for next season’s European Champions Cup – less if Sale lose at Exeter. Wasps tripped up 21-26 at home to Leicester in round 21, the first time they had failed to score a try in an Aviva Premiership Rugby match since December 2013. London Irish’s only victory over Wasps in their last five fixtures in all tournaments was 23-20 at Adams Park in Premiership Rugby in February 2014 whilst Wasps won 19-12 on their most recent visit to Madejski Stadium in November 2013.

The teams:

London Irish: 15 Andrew Fenby, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Shane Geraghty (c), 11 James Short, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Darren Allison, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Luke Narraway, 5 Jebb Sinclair, 4 Dan Leo, 3 Richard Palframan, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Ollie Curry, 20 Ofisa Treviranus, 21 Callum Watson, 22 Eamonn Sheridan, 23 Andrew Short.

Wasps: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Charlie Davies,8 Guy Thompson, 7 James Haskell (c), 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Simon McIntyre, 17 Will Taylor, 18 Kearnan Myall, 19 Sam Jones, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Rob Miller.

Date: Saturday, May 16
Kick-off: 15:30 BST
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Ian Tempest, Andrew Pearce
TMO: David Grashoff

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