Friday, 22 November 2013

Tigers head coach Richard Cockerill has made wholesale changes to his Leicester side as the club's England contingent return from international action.  4 are returned to the matchday 23.  Tom & Ben Youngs plus Toby Flood start whilst Dan Cole is on the bench.  That means a second ever Premiership start for Fraser Balmain at tighthead.

Niall Morris, Dan Bowden, Graham Kitchener and Julian Salvi all return after taking a break in the LV Cup whilst Scott Hamilton and Miles Benjamin have used said break to cement their return to the side ahead of Adam Thompstone who benches against his former employers.

London Irish include 10 internationals in their starting XV including the likes of James O'Connor at full back and new England winger Marland Yarde on the wing.  Former Tiger Jimmy Stevens is the on the bench covering hooker.

Tigers have won their last two matches in the LV Cup but go into the game on stinking league form.  2 defeats and a draw in the last three matches makes this our second longest winless streak in the history of league rugby.  The longest?  During the 2003 Rugby World Cup when we lost 5 games straight.

Irish have only ever won one match at Welford Road, a one point victory in 2003 when Tigers were collapsing to their lowest ever league finish of 6th.

In the last month London Irish fans can be forgiven for a strong feeling of deja vu.  Their last four fixtures have been Newcastle away then Northampton at home in the Premiership, then Newcastle away and Northampton at home in the LV Cup!

Saturday's referee will be local man Martin Fox.  Born in Leicester and resident in Ashby Magna the 51 year old company director won't have far to travel for his first Premiership game at Welford Road.  Presumably fears of a media storm over his clear links to Leicester have prevented Fox refereeing the club more often, despite almost a 100 premiership games he only refereed Leicester for the first time last year against Saracens at Wembley.

15 Scott Hamilton
14 Niall Morris
13 Matt Smith
12 Dan Bowden
11 Miles Benjamin
10 Toby Flood (c)
9 Ben Youngs
1 Boris Stankovich
2 Tom Youngs
3 Fraser Balmain
4 Louis Deacon
5 Graham Kitchener
6 Jamie Gibson
7 Julian Salvi
8 Jordan Crane
16 Neil Briggs
17 Tom Bristow
18 Dan Cole
19 Sebastian De Chaves
20 Thomas Waldrom
21 David Mélé
22 Owen Williams
23 Adam Thompstone

London Irish:
15 James O'Connor
14Topsy Ojo
13 Fergus Mulchrone
12 Eamonn Sheridan
11 Marland Yarde
10 Shane Geraghty
9 Tomás O'Leary
1 John Yapp
2David Paice
3 Leo Halavatau
4 Ian Gough
5 George Skivington (c)
6 Jebb Sinclair
7 Blair Cowan
8 Chris Hala'ufia
16 Jimmy Stevens
17 Matt Parr
18 Jamie Hagan
19 Nic Rouse
20 Danny Kenny
21 Guy Armitage
22 Myles Dorrian
23 Darren Allinson

London Irish Kit:

Leicester Kit:

Referee: Martin Fox
Touch Judges: Peter Huckle & Nigel Carrick
Video Ref: Trevor Fisher
TV: None Live; Highlights on BT Sport 1HD 1P.M. Sunday & Highlights on ITV4 Sunday 8P.M.

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