Tigers tackle euro hunting Exiles
May 6, 2011
London Irish's Elvis Sevealii braces himself for impact during their clash with the Tigers in December © Getty Images
Play-off bound Leicester Tigers take on London Irish at a sold-out Welford Road on Saturday with the visitors out to book their place in next season's Heineken Cup.
The Tigers place in the post-season has long been decided with a return to home soil in the semi-finals also assured. In contrast, the Exiles saw their play-off hopes fade with defeat to Northampton in their last outing with a top six finish and a place amongst Europe's elite next season their next goal.
Leicester - Player to Watch: Anthony Allen was relatively quiet against Newcastle a fortnight ago - given how good his form has been this season it is almost inconceivable that he will be as subdued for a second game in succession.
Leicester - Team News: The Tigers make just two changes to the side which defeat Newcastle last time out, with England half-back duo Toby Flood and Ben Youngs returning in place of Jeremy Staunton and James Grindal respectively.
London Irish - Player to Watch: Tom Homer has been switched to fullback to fill the void left by the suspended Delon Armitage so it will be interesting to see how he fares at 15.
London Irish - Team News: Homer's relocation results in a start for Adam Thompstone on the left wing. Jonathan Joseph takes over from Elvis Seveali'i at outside centre, while Richard Thorpe replaces George Stowers at No.8.
Key Battle: The Exiles back-row of Jamie Gibson, Steffon Armitage and Richard Thorpe have a massive - and unenviable - task on their hands in trying to contain their Leicester counterparts Tom Croft, Craig Newby and Thomas Waldrom. How they fare will be key to the outcome of the game.
Trivia: Leicester have reached the play-offs for the past seven seasons
Stats: London Irish scrum-half Paul Hodgson has made more passes than any other player this season, with 1,083
"We've had some good wins on the road but now we have a big game at Welford Road and we want to go into the semi-finals next week on the back of a good performance." - Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill
"We have prepared well for Saturday's game with Leicester and we know what is at stake. We will approach the game in the same manner that we always do and look to come away with the right result." - London Irish head coach Toby Booth
Fantasy: Leicester's Alesana Tuilagi is the highest-scoring outside back in this year's ESPNscrum Fantasy Rugby Game, with a staggering 113 points - was he in your side?
Prediction: The Exiles are out to seal their place in next season's Heineken Cup but while the Tigers have already secured a home draw in the Premiership play-offs, boss Richard Cockerill has named a full-strength side for the game at Welford Road so expect the hosts to come out on top in what should be an entertaining fixture.
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