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Preview: London Irish v Saracens

08th February 2013 12:46

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Marland Yarde London Irish v Saracens AVP 2012

Big game for Exiles: Saracens visit Madejski Stadium

Scott Lawson, George Skivington and Ian Humphreys will all return to the London Irish starting line-up for Saturday's Premiership clash with Saracens at Madejski Stadium.

Lawson will be joined by Max Lahiff and Halani Aulika in the front row. George Skivington will partner Bryn Evans in the second row; the New Zealander will also captain the side. Ian Humphreys and Pat Phibbs will form the half-back combination.

Jonathan Joseph is a late withdrawal due to ankle injury, meaning Guy Armitage is moved to outside centre with Shane Geraghty starting at 12. Kieran Low comes onto the bench.

"It's great that we will be back playing at Madejski in front of our home crowd in such a big game," said London Irish Director of Rugby, Brian Smith.

"Saracens are a formidable team in the Aviva Premiership and Europe and they'll give us a thorough examination. In saying that, we don't fear any team in this league and the boys are itching to put in a big performance and hopefully get the result as well."

Meanwhile, Saracens welcome back David Strettle, Will Fraser, George Kruis, Duncan Taylor and Joel Tomkins from international action to start the game against the Exiles.

Steve Borthwick also returns to captain the side and forms a second row partnership with Alistair Hargreaves while Neil de Kock, Matt Stevens and John Smit are back in the starting line-up.

Alex Goode, Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt, Owen Farrell, Mako Vunipola and Kelly Brown miss the game on international duty.

Form: London Irish's 6-10 defeat in Cardiff in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Friday ended a four game winning run in all competitions. The Exiles, however, remain the worst side in Aviva Premiership Rugby on current form, having obtained just six league points from their last half a dozen encounters. Saracens have won their last eight contests in all tournaments since their 9-15 reversal in Munster on 8 December. Sarries only away defeat in the Premiership since September was 3-12 at Worcester on 23 November. Saracens have taken the last four encounters between the two clubs.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Guy Armitage, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Pat Phibbs, 8 Chris Hala'ufia 7 Jebb Sinclair, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Bryn Evans (Captain), 4 George Skivington, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Mike Mayhew, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18Leo Halavatau, 19 Jamie Gibson, 20 Ofisa Treviranus, 21 Kieran Low, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Jack Moates

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Joe Maddock, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser, 6 George Kruis, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 John Smit, 1 Nick Auterac.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 James Short.

Date: Saturday, February 9
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Kick-off: 15.00 GMT
Referee: Andrew Small

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PosTeamPPts
1Saracens418
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3Bath415
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5Wasps411