Planet Rugby

Preview: London Irish v Harlequins

25th February 2011 11:20

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Aviva Premiership launch Chris Robshaw Steve Borthwick Clarke Dermody Tom Rees

Back with Quins: Chris Robshaw

Harlequins are boosted by the return from England training of captain Chris Robshaw for their clash with London Irish at Madejski Stadium on Saturday.

Last week's victory at the Stoop not only saw them back in the top six of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table (currently sitting in fifth) but also continue an impressive run of form, which sees the London side unbeaten in ten of their last eleven games in all competitions.

Director of Rugby, Conor O'Shea has made a number of changes to the side that defeated Sale last week at the Stoop.

After impressing against the Stockport side, the pack remains unchanged. Joe Marler and James Johnston link either side of Joe Gray in the front row, with Ollie Kohn and Pete Browne joining in the second row. Maurie Fa'asavalu, Will Skinner and captain Robshaw make up the back row.

Last week's man-of-the-match, Rory Clegg continues at fly-half, after Nick Evans was ruled out for a number of weeks with a hand injury which he picked up at training. With Danny Care back on International duty, and Karl Dickson ruled out with injury, Dave Moore makes his first Premiership start at scrum-half.

Further injuries to Gonzalo Camacho (knee) and George Lowe (shoulder), picked up in last week's win against Sale, see Ugo Monye moved into inside centre to partner Jordan Turner-Hall. Star of this season's Dubai 7s, Ollie Lindsay-Hague, returns from injury to start on the wing, alongside Tom Williams. Mike Brown remains at full-back.

Meanwhile, Richard Thorpe, who recently became the latest London Irish centurion, will lead the Exiles out at Madejski Stadium.

Thorpe captains a team that includes three changes and two positional changes from the side that took on Gloucester last weekend.

Bob Casey has recovered from injury and will join Nick Kennedy in the second row to make his 221st appearance for the club. Paul Hodgson comes in at scrum half having recovered from his head injury in place of Darren Allinson. Steffon Armitage returns at openside flanker with Jamie Gibson moving to the blindside flank. Topsy Ojo and Tom Homer switch to the wing and full-back respectively. Ryan Lamb has recovered from flu and is named on the bench.

"It is always enjoyable to play in a local derby with Harlequins, they are always hard fought and competitive games. The squad is focused on the job in hand and determined to come away from the game with the right result," said Irish head coach Toby Booth.

Form: Harlequins, who won 28-18 when the two teams met in round 11, are attempting a first Premiership double over London Irish since season 2002/03. London Irish's only win in their last eight Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters was 23-14 at home to Newcastle on 12 February. The Exiles have won their last three matches at Madejski Stadium in all competitions. Harlequins have suffered just one defeat in their last eleven games in all competitions: 6-20 at Exeter Chiefs in the Aviva Premiership on 12 February. 'Quins have won just once on the road in the Premiership since December 2009 - 16-13 at Northampton on New Year's Day. Quins have won on two of their last three visits to Reading in all competitions.

The teams:

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Seilala Mapusua, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Chris Malone, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 George Stowers, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Bob Casey, 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Faan Rautenbach, 2 James Buckland, 1 Clarke Dermody (capt).
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Paulica Ion, 19 Kieran Roche, 20 Richard Thorpe, 21 Jonathan Joseph, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Darren Allinson.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams 13 Ugo Monye, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ollie Lindsay-Hague 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Dave Moore, 8 Chris Robshaw (capt), 7 Will Skinner, 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 Pete Browne, 4 Ollie Kohn, 3 James Johnston,, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 Mark Lambert, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 Chris York, 21 Ben Urdapilleta, 22 Tom Casson, 23 Ross Chisholm.

Date: Saturday, February 26
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Madejksi Stadium
Referee: Sean Davey

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