Preview: London Irish v Ospreys

01st Nov 2008, 11:53

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Tall order: Casey will lead the Exiles as they look to make the semi-finals

Tall order: Casey will lead the Exiles as they look to make the semi-finals

Bob Casey will lead a strong London Irish against the Ospreys in the EDF Energy Cup at the Madejski on Sunday.

Bob Casey will lead a strong London Irish against the Ospreys in the EDF Energy Cup at the Madejski on Sunday.

The Exiles know that they have to win if they are to stand any chance of making the semi-finals, although even then they are relying on Harlequins beating Worcester.

"We will be going out against the Ospreys to win, without question," said coach Toby Booth.

To that effect Booth has named a side with eleven full internationals in it, as well as having the luxury of being able to call on the likes of Mike Catt and Peter Richards from the bench.

"The Ospreys are among the most talented teams in these islands as their position at the top of the Magners League testifies," said Booth.

"Thirteen of their players are in the Wales squad for the internationals next month. Last year we played them at the Liberty Stadium in this competition and know that they like to play a similar style of running, attacking rugby to ourselves. An enthralling contest is in prospect."

Despite the row between the regions and the Welsh Rugby Union the Ospreys have named a strong side for this must win clash.

Gavin Henson, Shane Williams and James Hook all start in the backs, with Ian Evans, Ian Gough, Adam Jones and Huw Bennett all named in the pack.

Ryan Jones starts on the bench, with three other Welsh squad members, although the selections will not please the WRU.

Form: London Irish have won their last three matches in all competitions, whilst the Exiles' only loss at Madejski Stadium since March was 16-20 to Bath in the Premiership on 20 September. London Irish have won two of their last three games in the EDF Energy Cup, but have not beaten a Welsh side in this competition since their 27-23 victory over the Blues in Reading on 4 December 2005. Ospreys have won four of their last five games in all competitions, but have lost their last two away games. The reigning EDF Energy Cup champions have won their last seven matches in this competition. The only previous meeting between the two teams was in round two of the EDF Energy Cup at Liberty Stadium last season when Ospreys triumphed 51-16.

The Teams:

London Irish: 15 Peter Hewat, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Elvis Seveali'i, 12 Seilala Mapusua, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Chris Hala'Ufia, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Richard Thorpe, 5 Bob Casey, 4 James Hudson, 3 Faan Rautenbach, 2 David Paice, 1 Clarke Dermody.
Replacements: 16 Tonga Lea'aetoa, 17 James Buckland, 18 Kieran Roche, 19 Declan Danaher, 20 James Bailey, 21 Peter Richards, 22 Mike Catt.

Ospreys: 15 Jonny Vaughton, 14 Nikki Walker, 13 Tommy Bowe, 12 Gavin Henson, 11 Shane Williams, 10 James Hook, 9 Jamie Nutbrown, 8 Filo Tiatia, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Tom Smith, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Paul James (c).
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Craig Mitchell, 18 Lyndon Bateman, 19 Ryan Jones, 20 Rhys Webb, 21 Dan Biggar, 22 Andrew Bishop.

Date: Sunday 2 November, 2008
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: Andrew Small (England)
Touch judges: Andrew Pearce (England), Roger Baileff (England)
Assessor: Ed Morrison (England)
Television match official: John Burtenshaw (England)