Leeds Carnegie v London Irish, Aviva Premiership, March 6
Exiles look to heap more woe on Leeds
March 4, 2011
Topsy Ojo has been one of London Irish's star performers this term © Getty Images
London Irish will be desperate to add further momentum to their push for a play-off place when they travel to Headingley on Sunday to take on basement boys Leeds.
The Exiles dropped out of the top four after a dismal run of form which saw them lose six games on the spin before they managed to battle their way to a vital 15-9 victory over Harlequins at the Madjeski Stadium last weekend.
They will now be contemplating a bonus-point win over a Leeds side that has won just once all season and will doubtless still be reeling after slumping to a 22-5 defeat at home to 11th placed Newcastle, a result which leaves them seven points adrift of the Falcons at the foot of the table.
Leeds - Player to Watch: Hendre Fourie is behind so much of what Leeds do well and the wrecking-ball back-rower will need to pull out some fireworks if he is to reinvigorate an ailing side.
Leeds - Team News: It's all change for Leeds with wholesale changes. Fourie is joined in the starting line-up by fellow England international Steve Thompson while Adrian Jarvis shunts Lachlan Mackay from fly-half to inside-centre. Michael Stephenson takes over at fullback from Ceiron Thomas and Luther Burrell is called into midfield. Gareth Hardy comes in at loose-head and Daniel Browne shifts into the second-row.
London Irish - Player to Watch: Inside-centre Dan Bowden will need to offer something as a playmaker given the conservative options offered by Chris Malone. The Exiles should earmark this one as a five-pointer.
London Irish - Team News: The Exiles have made just one change from the side that beat Quins, with Jonathan Joseph starting on the wing in place of Adam Thompstone.
Key Battle: Jamie Gibson, Steffon Armitage and George Stowers will be hoping to nullify Leeds and the breakdown and ensure that Chris Malone has plenty of ball with which to build pressure.
Trivia: London Irish's last eight fixtures in all competitions have been won by the home side on the day.
Stats: Leeds have won just one of their last seven meetings with the Exiles: 23-13 at Madejski Stadium in April of last year.
"We were pleased to have Steve Thompson and Hendre Fourie back this week for the full week from the England camp. It was great to see both guys at Headingley last Sunday supporting their team mates despite the euphoria of beating France the previous day at Twickenham." - Leeds head coach Neil Back
"It was good to get back to winning ways last week but this Sunday's fixture presents a fresh challenge. The boys have trained well and we know what is at stake. We're at the business end of the season now and so we will be going all out to build momentum and come away from the game with a win." - London Irish boss Toby Booth is expecting no complacency from his side
Fantasy: London Irish star Topsy Ojo has scored more points (81) than any other outside back in this season's ESPNscrum Premiership Fantasy Rugby.
Prediction: Leeds were abject against Newcastle last weekend and with 10 changes, they are likely to struggle for consistency. London Irish to win comfortably.
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