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Preview: London Irish v Bath

19th September 2008 10:47

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Nick Kennedy on the charge for Exiles

Line-out king: Kennedy's return is a huge boost for London Irish

London Irish welcome back Nick Kennedy for Saturday's Guinness Premiership showdown against Bath at the Madejski Stadium.

Kennedy's return is one of four changes made by Head Coach Toby Booth, as Peter Richards returns at scrum-half in place of fellow England international Paul Hodgson.

The remaining two changes come in the pack where David Paice gets a start, and England U20 prop Alex Corbisiero comes in for Tonga Lea'aetoa.

With Bob Casey still out injured Seilala Mapusua continues as captain for a game that Booth expects to be a true test of his side's ability.

"We face another tough examination of our early season form," said Booth

"Last weekend's performance against the Tigers was characterised by mental strength and ambition. There was a ruthless streak about our play that showed our determination to get something out of the match. That same ruthlessness will be required again tomorrow.

"Bath's start to the season mirrors our own. Under Steve Meehan they have re-emerged as a force in the game, they share the same spirit as ourselves in terms of how the game should be played so I'm sure the supporters of both teams are in for a cracking game."

For Bath Alex Crockett returns from the injury he sustained in a pre-season friendly, and is one of several changes to the side that lost against Gloucester last week.

Jack Cuthbert, a second half replacement last week, comes in on the wing in place of Matt Banahan and in the forwards there are three more changes.

James Scaysbrook start in the back row and David Barnes and Duncan Bell come into the front row in place of David Flatman and Matt Stevens respectively.

Form: The only London Irish defeat at Madejski Stadium in any competition since last October was 16-22 to Wasps in the Guinness Premiership on 16 March. Bath have won just one of their last four games in the Guinness Premiership: 33-20 at Bristol on the opening weekend of the new season. Bath won both encounters between the teams last season: 22-20 in Reading and 19-16 at The Rec. Bath have a won 6, lost 3 record in Premiership matches at Madejski Stadium.

The Teams:

London Irish: 15 Peter Hewat, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Delon Armitage, 12 Seilala Mapusua (c), 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Eoghan Hickey, 9 Peter Richards, 8 Chris Hala'Ufia, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Richard Thorpe, 5 Gary Johnson, 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Faan Rautenbach, 2 David Paice, 1 Alex Corbisiero.

Replacements: 16 Tonga Lea'aetoa, 17 Danie Coetzee, 18 Nic Rouse, 19 Jonathon Fisher, 20 Adam Thompstone, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Elvis Seveali'i.

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Joe Maddock, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 11 Jack Cuthbert, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 James Scaysbrook, 7 Michael Lipman (c), 6 Stuart Hooper, 5 Peter Short, 4 Justin Harrison, 3 Duncan Bell, 2 Lee Mears, 1 David Barnes.

Replacements: 16 Pieter Dixon, 17 David Flatman, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Josh Ovens, 20 Scott Bemand, 21 Shaun Berne, 22 Tom Cheeseman.

Date: Saturday 20 September, 2008

Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)

Venue: Madejski Stadium

Referee: Dave Pearson

Touch judges: Robin Goodliffe, Bruce Robertson

Television match official: Clive Leeke

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