Preview: London Irish v Gloucester

Date published: November 28 2014

London Irish will this week welcome back Geoff Cross, Kieran Low, Blair Cowan, Jebb Sinclair and Ofisa Treviranus to their starting XV.

London Irish will this week welcome back Geoff Cross, Kieran Low, Blair Cowan, Jebb Sinclair and Ofisa Treviranus to their starting lineup for the Aviva Premiership clash with Gloucester on Sunday at the Madejski Stadium.

All have returned from international duty with their respective nations to add more steel to the Irish pack.

Tom Court, David Paice and Geoff Cross make up the front row with George Skivington and Kieran Low in the second row. Jebb Sinclair, Blair Cowan and Ofisa Treviranus form the back row.

Chris Noakes and Scott Steele form the half-back pairing with Shane Geraghty and Fergus Mulchrone in the centre. James Short, Alex Lewington and Tom Homer, who returns from injury, make up the back three.

London Irish Director of Rugby, Brian Smith said: “It’s good to have the six International boys back. They’ve added energy to the group and will reinforce the pack. Gloucester are a quality side with big ambitions.

“They’ve invested heavily in their coaching team and squad. We are looking forward to the battle and the chance to play in front of our supporters. For us this weekend is all about getting the result.”

Meanwhile, Greig Laidlaw, who will captain the Glouecster side, is one of a number of players who return from international duty and feature in Sunday’s Premiership game.

Laidlaw will partner James Hook at half-back, the latter returning from international duty with Wales.

Also back having represented their country over the past few weekends, and straight into the starting line up, are Richard Hibbard and Sione Kalamafoni. Meanwhile, Aleki Lutui and Sila Puafisi are named amongst the replacements.

Charlie Sharples and Henry Purdy have both recovered from the knocks they picked up at Newcastle last Friday, but Dan Robson is ruled out.

Form: London Irish have slipped to four straight defeats since their 25-15 victory in Grenoble in the European Challenge Cup, whilst the Exiles most recent win in Aviva Premiership Rugby came at Leicester in Round Four. London Irish have picked up twice as many league points from their away games this season as they have at home. Gloucester Rugby have slipped to three successive defeats in Aviva Premiership Rugby and have not lost four in a row in the tournament since this time last year. Gloucester’s only win away from home in Premiership Rugby since March came at struggling London Welsh in Round Four. London Irish have won only one of their last six encounters with Gloucester in all tournaments: 18-12 at Kingsholm in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 5 January 2013. Gloucester have been victorious on each of their last three visits to Madejski Stadium.

The teams:

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 James Short, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Jebb Sinclair, 5 Kieran Low, 4 George Skivington (c), 3 Geoff Cross, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court
Replacements: 16 Tom Woolsencroft, 17 Leo Halavatau, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Dan Leo, 20 Conor Gilsenan, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Eoin Griffin, 23 Topsy Ojo

Gloucester: 15 Steve McColl, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Meakes, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 James Hook, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 James Gibbons, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Shane Monahan

Date: Sunday, November 30
Kick-off: 13:00 GMT
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: Matt Carley
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank, Ashley Rowden
TMO: David Sainsbury.