Preview: London Welsh v London Irish

Date published: February 27 2015

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London Welsh have made seven changes, including a positional switch, to their starting XV for Saturday's clash with London Irish at the Kassam Stadium.

Welsh's starting XV includes nine members of its Championship winning team of last season, with four more named on the bench.

In the backs, Nick Scott comes back into the side on the left wing. James Lewis starts at outside centre, with Nic Reynolds named among the replacements, while Rob Lewis takes over the number nine jersey from Piri Weepu.

In the forwards, Jack Gilding starts at tighthead prop with Taione Vea moving to the bench. Club captain Matt Corker returns to the second row and Opeti Fonua to the Number eight jersey, with Ben Pienaar moving to blindside flanker.

Saturday will be the 133rd meeting between the two Exiles clubs since they first crossed swords in 1898. Irish came out on top in that first meeting, as they did in the sides' Boxing Day clash at the Madejski Stadium, 24-9, thanks to tries from Alex Lewington, Geoff Cross and Tom Court.

Meanwhile, London Irish head coach Glenn Delaney has made four changes to his starting XV for this clash.

The front row sees two changes, with Matt Parr and Leo Halavatau starting alongside David Paice at hooker. Nic Rouse joins captain George Skivington in the second row, and there is an unchanged back row of Ofisa Treviranus, Conor Gilsenan and Tom Guest.

Scott Steele and Shane Geraghty continue their partnership at nine and 10 respectively with Eamonn Sheridan and Tom Fowlie named in the midfield.

James Short moves into the starting line-up after Topsy Ojo was forced off the field in last weekend. Short is joined in the back three by Alex Lewington and Andrew Fenby.

Speaking of his selection, Delaney said: "We know we are in for huge battle at the Kassam tomorrow afternoon and form will not count for anything.

"As a group, we have to be accurate with what do and be clinical at the right times. London Welsh will be desperate and dangerous so we have to be prepared for that.”

Form: London Welsh have not won a game in any competition since their 21-20 victory at Bristol in the second leg of last season’s Championship final. London Irish have now slipped to four straight defeats in all tournaments since their 34-6 win in Rovigo in the European Challenge Cup on 24 January. The Irish have lost their last five away games in Aviva Premiership Rugby since they won at Leicester in Round Four. London Welsh’s only victory over their Irish rivals in competitive rugby was 15-9 in Premiership Rugby at Kassam Stadium on 1 December 2012.

The teams:

London Welsh:

15 Elliot Kear, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 James Lewis, 12 James Tincknell, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Will Robinson, 9 Rob Lewis, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Carl Kirwan, 6 Ben Pienaar, 5 Matt Corker (c), 4 Dean Schofield, 3 Jack Gilding, 2 Rob Elloway, 1 Eddie Aholelei.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Morris, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Taione Vea, 19 James Down, 20 Richard Thorpe, 21 Alex Davies, 22 Olly Barkley, 23 Nic Reynolds.

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

Date: Saturday, February 28
Venue: Kassam Stadium
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Referee: Matt Carley
Assistant referees: Ross Campbell, Jonathan Healy
TMO: David Sainsbury

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