Planet Rugby

Preview: London Irish v Bath

21st March 2014 11:29

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Full-back: James O'Connor

A crowd of over 20,000 will turn out at the Madejski Stadium afternoon as London Irish host Bath in the St Patrick's Party.

Jamie Hagan and Fergus Mulchrone have returned from injury to be named in the in the starting line-up with George Skivington captaining the side from the second row.

Matt Parr, David Paice and Hagan will make up the front row with Nic Rouse joining Skivington in the second row. Kieran Low, Blair Cowan and Ofisa Treviranus make up the back row.

Darren Allinson and Shane Geraghty will partner at half-back with Eamonn Sheridan and Mulchrone back together in the centre. Marland Yarde, Topsy Ojo and James O'Connor are named in the back three.

"The St Patrick's Party fixture is always a great occasion and with a huge crowd expected the team want to put in a performance our supporters will be proud of," said London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith.

"Bath will pose a difficult challenge but we have prepared well for the contest and will go into tomorrow's match determined to fight for a victory and to give Declan Danaher a fitting send off."

Meanwhile, Bath have made nine changes to the starting line-up for tomorrow's Aviva Premiership trip to Reading.

Stuart Hooper leads the side, with the returning Dave Attwood his partner in the second row. Also back from international duty are Paul James and David Wilson, who scrum down either side of Ross Batty at hooker.

Francois Louw is named at openside flanker, with Matt Garvey and Leroy Houston completing the pack at blindside and number eight.

Newly-capped George Ford starts at fly-half with Peter Stringer joining him in the half-backs.

Kyle Eastmond comes back into the midfield alongside Ollie Devoto, as Semesa Rokoduguni and Anthony Watson start out wide on the wings and Nick Abendanon provides the threat from full-back.

Form: Luck tends to be with Irish when it comes to their St Patrick's Day clashes - roared on by a bumper home crowd they have won four of the last five fixtures, the only defeat coming in a barn-storming clash with Leicester Tigers two seasons ago, eventually going down 41-32. Bath will arrive at the Madejski Stadium looking to cement their place their place in the top four but Irish's season is far from over after recent impressive away wins over Saracens and London Wasps.

The teams:

For Irish: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Kieran Low, 5 Nic Rouse, 4 George Skivington (c), 3 Jamie Hagan, 2 David Paice, 1 Matt Parr
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 John Yapp, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Chris Hala'ufia, 21 Andrew Fenby, 22 Ian Humphreys, 23 Ed Hoadley

For Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Semesa Rokoduguni, 10 George Ford, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Paul James
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Micky Young, 22 Gavin Henson, 23 Horacio Agulla

Date: Saturday, March 22
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Kickoff: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Gregory Garner
Assistant Referees: Nigel Carrick, Peter Huckle
TMO: David Sainsbury

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