Planet Rugby

Preview: London Irish v London Wasps

29th November 2013 09:52

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Double hundred: Topsy Ojo

London Irish stalwart Topsy Ojo will make his 200th appearance for the Exiles against London Wasps at the Madejski Stadium.

The winger, who signed a new three-year deal earlier in the week, will be joined in the back three by Alex Lewington and James O'Connor.

Eamonn Sheridan and Fergus Mulchrone continue in the centre with Shane Geraghty and Tomás O'Leary as the half backs.

John Yapp, Jimmy Stevens and Leo Halavatau will start in the front row with Ian Gough and George Skivington in the second row. Blair Cowan, Jebb Sinclair and Chris Hala'ufia make up the back row.

"I'm really happy with the preparation for our battle with Wasps," said Exiles boss Brian Smith.

"The players have responded very well in training and we're ready to go.

"Everyone at the Club is willing David [Paice] and Marland [Yarde] a speedy recovery and the opportunity now goes to Jimmy Stevens and Alex Lewington to wear the jersey. I know they will step up on Saturday."

Meanwhile, London Wasps boss Dai Young has made eight changes to the team who will run out against Irish.

Christian Wade returns to the side to take his place on the wing, and on the opposite wing, Will Helu makes his first Premiership start, fresh from international duty where he scored a try for Tonga against Wales last weekend.

James Haskell, Sam Jones and Guy Thompson make up the back row with Ashley Johnson and Nathan Hughes both ruled out with injury.

Jake Cooper-Woolley comes back into the side to replace Phil Swainston in the front row and he is joined by Carlo Festuccia and Matt Mullan.

Charlie Davies, Joe Launchbury and Charlie Hayter take places in the starting 15, while Joe Simpson, Tom Palmer and Ben Jacobs fill spots on the bench.

Taione Vea also comes onto the bench, where he is primed to make his first Premiership appearance, following his international stint with Tonga in recent weeks.

"We are facing a good attacking team this weekend who will challenge us defensively," said Young.

"They have quality players and they play an attractive game. They are in a similar position to us, in that their forwards came second best last week, so you will have two packs who will be wanting to put the record straight and perform much better.

"We need a platform to play and we need our kicking game to be much better than last week. There has been a good reaction out on the training park from the team but we are looking for a reaction on the pitch too, in both attitude and quality."

Form: London Irish have slipped to five straight defeats in all competitions and in the Premiership have secured just one victory since the opening weekend: 18-13 at home to Harlequins in round 5. The Exiles have won only two of their last five Premiership encounters played at Madesjki Stadium.

London Wasps have lost their last three matches in all tournaments since beating Gloucester 32-30 at Kingsholm on 2nd November, that victory ended an unwanted run of seven straight away defeats in the competition.

The last ten encounters between the two clubs in the Premiership have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst Wasps have not been victorious in Reading in the tournament since 16th March 2008.

The teams:

London Irish: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Tomás O'Leary, 8 Chris Hala'Ufia, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Jebb Sinclair, 5 George Skivington (c), 4 Ian Gough, 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 Jimmy Stevens, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Mike Mayhew, 17 Matt Parr, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Nic Rouse, 20 Ofisa Treviranus, 21 Guy Armitage, 22 Myles Dorrian, 23 Darren Allinson.

London Wasps:

Date: Saturday 30th November
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Kick-off: 1500 (local and GMT)
Referee: Dean Richards
Assistant referees: Kevin Stewart, Andrew Pearce
TMO: Rowan Kitt

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