Feb 07, 2014
Saracens v London Irish - Preview
Saracens host London Irish this weekend in round 13 of the Aviva Premiership. Here Henry Fraser previews the Exiles ahead of their first trip to Allianz Park.
London Irish - Form guide, won 3, lost 9.
It has been a difficult first half of the season for London Irish. With only a few wins under their belt they are currently placed just above the relegation battle.
Sitting tenth in the table is quite precarious at this time as a gap seems to be opening up above Irish leaving them only a few points in front of Newcastle. A struggling Worcester team looks to be a buffer for Irish and the Falcons.
After losing a lot of their young talent, they seem to be a side that is rebuilding, filling the gaps with many new faces. Lots have been Championship players that are getting used to the pace of Premiership rugby. However signings like Ian Gough and CJ Van De Linde have added huge, much needed, experience.
The set piece is key for both teams. London Irish have a well drilled lineout with huge options. Led by George Skivington with options of Gough and Kieran Lowe, Sarries will need to be on their toes to put pressure on the opposition. Irish have struggled a bit in the scrum so far this season and this could be an area for Sarries to pressure so the front row are going to have to continue their great form at scrum time.
Outside of the back Irish can boast a very large, very attacking back line. They have some incredibly strong runners that can give a side great momentum, players like Eamonn Sheridan and Fergus Mulchrone are like bulldozers up the middle. These players break gain lines and allow the dangerous Irish outside backs great ball to attack from. The huge experience of Topsy Ojo on one wing with the possible return of Marland Yarde on the other and James O'Connor at full back can be a deadly trio.
7/9/13 London Irish 20 - 42 Saracens
9/2/13 London Irish 29 - 16 Saracens
1/9/12 Saracens 40 - 3 London Irish
Player to watch
James O'Connor - He might be an obvious player to pick, but he is a special talent. In what has been a struggling team he has given them a huge lift. His ability under the high ball and read a game is second to none. He might not be the biggest of players but he punches well above his weight breaking through tackles in attack and rarely missing them in defence. In many parts of the game he could prove to be the difference. Watch out!