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Preview: Leicester v London Welsh

08th February 2013 12:17

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Matt Smith Treviso Try

100 up: Matt Smith

Matt Smith will make his 100th starting appearance for Leicester in the club's Aviva Premiership match against London Welsh on Saturday.

The 27-year-old will follow his dad Ian in making 100 starts for the club, becoming the first father-and-son combination to achieve this feat in the side's 133-year history.

Ian Smith went on to 331 appearances for the club as a back-rower between 1977 and 1991, including five Cup Finals, while Matt made his debut in March 2006.

Anthony Allen, Niall Morris and Adam Thompstone return to the Tigers backline, with Sam Harrison and George Ford linking up at half-back.

Tom Croft and Julian Salvi are named in the forward pack, with Marcos Ayerza and Logovi'i Mulipola joined by Rob Hawkins in the front-row.

Meanwhile, London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones makes nine changes for Saturday's game.

The Exiles rounded off their LV= Cup campaign last Sunday at the Kassam Stadium with a 42-14 defeat to the Dragons.

In the backs, Tom Arscott comes in at full-back and Phil MacKenzie moves from the left to the right wing to accommodate the returning Nick Scott. There's also a new half-back combination with Gordon Ross and Tyson Keats returning to the starting line-up.

In the forwards, Franck Montanella starts at loosehead, while Adam Balding, returning to his former club, Michael Hills and Ed Jackson make up an entirely new back row.

Leicester provided London Welsh with their first-ever opponents in the Aviva Premiership in September, but spoilt the party when they ran out 38-13 winners at the Kassam.

"We're keen to see how much we've improved since we played Leicester in September - that game was a line in the sand for us," said Jones.

"It was a tough day for us but we've come on a little bit since then and we're keen to see exactly just how far we've improved.

"Leicester and all of the teams in the top half of the table prepare for this period of the season, when the national sides are at full complement with members of their squad, so we don't expect any weakness in the Leicester side we play on Saturday.

"We've learnt a lot of lessons about ourselves over the past four weeks in the Amlin Challenge Cup and the LV= Cup. We've improved certain aspects of our game and we're looking to carry those forward against Leicester."

Form: Leicester Tigers have won their last four Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters since tripping up at London Wasps in round nine. The Tigers' only home loss at Welford Road in any competition since October 2011 was to Harlequins, 9-22, on 22 September. London Welsh's only win in their last eight matches in all tournaments was 62-5 over Prato in the European Challenge Cup at Oxford on 12 January. The Exiles' only away victory in the Premiership so far came at Sale on 21 September. Leicester have won their last five games against London Welsh since the Exiles most recent victory over the Tigers - 9-6 on 19 September 1987 at Welford Road in a friendly fixture. Leicester won 38-13 when the two clubs met in the Premiership at Kassam Stadium in round one.

The teams:

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 George Ford, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Louis Deacon (c), 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Brett Deacon, 21 Micky Young, 22 Dan Bowden, 23 Geordan Murphy.

London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Phil MacKenzie, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Sonny Parker, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Gordon Ross, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Michael Hills, 6 Adam Balding, 5 Matt Corker, 4 Jonathan Mills (c), 3 Greg Bateman, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Franck Montanella.
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 James Tideswell, 19 Martin Purdy, 20 Ed Williamson, 21 Seb Jewell, 22 Gavin Henson, 23 Rob Lewis.

Date: Saturday, February 9
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Welford Road
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Steve Lee, Stuart Terheege
Timekeeper: Anthony Turner
Assessor: Nigel Yates

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