Exiles welcome back stars for Leicester clash
February 27, 2009
Shane Geraghty returns for London Irish against Leicester © Getty Images
Three of the five London Irish players that were involved with the England EPS in this week's preparations for Saturday's Six Nations match with Ireland feature in the Exiles team for Sunday's Guinness Premiership match with Leicester Tigers.
Steffon Armitage, Shane Geraghty and Paul Hodgson return to league action in the Exiles' starting fifteen for Sunday's match at the Madejski Stadium.
Armitage starts on the openside, Geraghty at fly-half and Hodgson slots in at scrum-half. The only other change to the team that started against Bath last weekend is among the forwards where Tonga Lea'aetoa comes in at tight head prop.
"Our meetings with Leicester are always very competitive," said Toby Booth, London Irish Head Coach. "There was only one score in it when we met earlier in the season at Welford Road. We will have to replicate that performance on Sunday if we are to get a result against one of Europe's great clubs. The Tigers have a culture of success and are well resourced with a big squad of experienced players.
"We enjoy measuring ourselves against the big clubs at Madejski Stadium and are exited about the challenge ahead of us," Booth added.
Top try-scorer Johne Murphy returns to the Leicester Tigers line-up on the wing. Murphy, who has scored six Premiership tries this season, has started the last four games among the replacements, and grabbed tries against Benetton Treviso and Wasps coming off the bench.
Murphy's inclusion sees a switch to full-back for Scott Hamilton in the only change to the backline following last Saturday's emphatic win over Worcester Warriors at Welford Road.
Mefin Davies and Dan Cole are drafted into the front row, while South African duo Marco Wentzel and Derick Hougaard take their place among the replacements on their return from injury.
George Chuter is with the England squad in Dublin as cover for his front-row colleagues ahead of Saturday's Six Nations clash with Ireland, and he is included among the Leicester replacements. If he is not released by England, his place on the Tigers bench will go to Greg Sammons.
"We played some good stuff against Worcester last Saturday, though we know we need to improve on our execution this week," said acting head coach Richard Cockerill. "We have a tight-knit group of players and we need to transfer that spirit into points and results."
London Irish: Tom Homer; Topsy Ojo, Seilala Mapusua, Elvis Seveali'i, Adam Thompstone, Shane Geraghty, Paul Hodgson; Clarke Dermody, James Buckland, Tonga Lea'aetoa, James Hudson, Bob Casey (captain), Richard Thorpe, Steffon Armitage, Chris Hala'Ufia.
Replacements: Alex Corbisiero, Danie Coetzee, Gary Johnson, Declan Danaher, Sailosi Tagicakibau, Peter Richards, Mike Catt
Leicester Tigers: Scott Hamilton; Johne Murphy, Matt Smith, Aaron Mauger (captain), Alesana Tuilagi, Sam Vesty, Julien Dupuy; Marcos Ayerza, Mefin Davies, Dan Cole, Louis Deacon, Ben Kay, Craig Newby, Ben Woods, Jordan Crane.
Replacements: George Chuter, Santiago Bonorino, Marco Wentzel, Brett Deacon, Ben Youngs, Derick Hougaard, Ayoola Erinle
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