Planet Rugby

Preview: London Irish v Worcester

22nd March 2013 11:00

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Tom Homer London Irish holds off Andy Goode Worcester Warriors

Break: Tom Homer

Lock George Skivington will captain London Irish this Saturday when they take on Worcester Warriors at the Madejski Stadium.

Max Lahiff, David Paice and Halani Aulika make up the front-row. Skivington is joined by Bryn Evans and Matt Garvey joins Ofisa Treviranus and Chris Hala'ufia in the back-row.

Pat Phibbs will partner Ian Humphreys and Shane Geraghty and Guy Armitage will team up in the centres. Marland Yarde, Topsy Ojo and Tom Homer make up the back three. Jonathan Joseph has recovered from injury to be named as a replacement.

"It will be great to be playing back at Madejski Stadium in front of our home crowd on Saturday in such an important occasion," said London Irish boss Brian Smith.

"Worcester are coming off a good win and will come in confident mood. The St Patrick's Party is always a memorable day and let's hope the St Patrick smiles down on us on Saturday."

Meanwhile, Paul Hodgson is set to face his former club for the first time since his move to Sixways.

The 30-year-old racked-up more than 150 appearances for London Irish before opting for a fresh challenge and will be aiming to help Warriors complete a league double over the team one place below them in the table.

Head Coach Richard Hill has also named one change in his forward pack as John Andress comes in at tighthead prop for Euan Murray, who is named on the bench.

The Sixways side have been bolstered by the return to fitness of Chris Jones and Semisi Taulava, who are both named amongst the replacements.

"We've had a three-week break without a game so the major focus for us has been on how we get ourselves mentality and physically prepared for this game to ensure we hit the ground running," said Hill.

"London Irish play well at home. They've got some very talented runners and they throw the ball about. And if you don't tackle them properly they will cut you apart.

"But our preparation over the last two weeks has been good and I'm happy with the progress we're making."

Form: Worcester Warriors have not won on the road in the Aviva Premiership since New Year's Day 2012 but as they head to the Madejski Stadium this weekend. A possible point's deduction for London Welsh coupled with some recent fine form for London Irish mean the Exiles are not so anxiously peering over their shoulders presently. But in front of an expectant bumper crowd in Reading, Worcester, who ended a Premiership five-game losing streak last-time out against London Wasps, are determined to play the role of unwanted party poopers. Worcester won 35-11 when the two clubs met in round five of the Premiership, and the Warriors are going for a first ever league double over the Exiles. The West Midlanders have already been defeated at Madejski Stadium this season: 46-24 in the LV= Cup on 27 January, whilst the Warriors' only previous win at the venue came way back in September 2005.

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 Ofisa Treviranus, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Bryn Evans, 4 George Skivington (c), 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Jamie Gibson, 20 Jon Fisher, 21 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 22 Jonathan Joseph, 23 Jack Moates.

Worcester Warriors:15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Jon Clarke, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Blair Cowan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Neil Best, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 James Percival (c), 3 John Andress, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 Euan Murray, 19 Chris Jones, 20 Semisi Taulava, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Josh Matavesi.

Date: Saturday, 23 March
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Andrew Pearce, Peter Huckle

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