Exiles out for revenge
October 23, 2009
Can Sailosi Tagicakibau continue his fine form? © Getty Images
Revenge is on the menu for Toby Booth and London Irish this weekend as they welcome Leicester Tigers to the Madejski Stadium.
The Exiles have had all summer to digest their loss to the Tigers in last season's Guinness Premiership final and have made a good fist of returning to Twickenham so far this season.
Booth's men sit in second behind Brendan Venter's obdurate Saracens side, but will need to hit their straps early on if they are to get a more positive result than in May's showpiece.
Their form in recent weeks has been mixed, with their Heineken Cup adventure beginning with a hard-fought win over champions Leinster in Dublin but continuing with a home defeat to the Scarlets.
Leicester meanwhile are four points behind their opponents. They enjoyed their European break however, with Billy Twelvetrees claiming the headlines in their thrilling, backs-to-the-wall 32-32 draw with the Ospreys before they coasted to a win over Viadana.
The Madejski has seen some fine displays of running rugby from the home side so far this season, with winger Sailosi Tagicakibau seemingly scoring at will. Paul Hodgson and Ryan Lamb have built the framework for a thrilling halfback partnership and skipper Bob Casey has led with distinction from his second-row berth alongside Nick Kennedy.
Steffon Armitage returns to the openside flank, joined in the back-row by Samoan international George Stowers. Stowers deputises for the injured Declan Danaher at blindside with Tongan powerhouse Chris Hala'Ufia at No.8.
The Tigers travel with their lengthy injury list still in place, scrum-half Harry Ellis adding to the problem this week, but coach Richard Cockerill has been cheered by their heart in recent games.
James Grindal continues at scrum-half alongside Jeremy Staunton, while Dan Hipkiss is fit to return to the midfield in place of Twelvetrees. Louis Deacon captains the Tigers from the second-row, with a combative back-row of Tom Croft, Lewis Moody and Jordan Crane all starting.
London Irish: Peter Hewat; Tom Homer, Seilala Mapusua, Elvis Seveali'i, Sailosi Tagicakibau; Ryan Lamb, Paul Hodgson; Clarke Dermody, Danie Coetzee, Paulica Ion, Nick Kennedy, Bob Casey (captain), George Stowers, Steffon Armitage, Chris Hala'Ufia
Replacements: David Paice, Dan Murphy, Faan Rautenbach, Andy Perry, Kieran Roche, Chris Malone, Peter Richards, Alfredo Lalanne
Leicester Tigers: Scott Hamilton; Johne Murphy, Dan Hipkiss, Anthony Allen, Lucas Amorosino; Jeremy Staunton, James Grindal; Marcos Ayerza, George Chuter, Julian White, Louis Deacon (capt), Richard Blaze, Tom Croft, Lewis Moody, Jordan Crane
Replacements: Tom Youngs, Boris Stankovich, Martin Castrogiovanni, Geoff Parling, Brett Deacon, Ben Youngs, Billy Twelvetrees, Andy Forsyth