Oct 30, 2015
Saracens vs London Irish - Match Preview
On Saturday afternoon London Irish will arrive at Allianz Park for the first meeting of the season between the two sides with the return fixture will be played in New York on 12th March. Currently both sides are at opposite ends of the Aviva Premiership table however history shows us that matches between the two can be eventful affairs.
Saracens have recorded the strongest start of all to the new Aviva Premiership season with two wins from two and enter round three at the top of the table. Kingsholm is a difficult place to travel to and returning to the familiar surroundings of Allianz Park will give Mark McCall’s side a further confidence boost.
London Irish Camp
London Irish entered the Round 1 with an entirely new coaching set up led by Tom Coventry and a large shake up in terms of personnel. The opening rounds haven’t been as fruitful as their new head coach would have liked with their first victory alluding them so far. That said London Irish have a history of coming to Allianz Park and putting in a performance so Saracens must be on their toes.
Mark McCall knows that the impact that London Irish’s new head coach can have on the Reading-based side:
“We are facing a new-look London Irish side under the tutelage of an outstanding coach, in Tom Coventry, who I’m sure will be very successful in the Premiership.
“They, much like ourselves have some players returning from Rugby World Cup duty to link-up with a very strong squad. We know that we will have to be at our very best if we are to come away with the spoils.”
According to London Irish’s Canadian International Jebb Sinclair they had a pretty ‘honest’ review following their Round 2 defeat at Sandy Park:
“It was not so much the loss that hurt, it was the manner of it, said Sinclair. “Losses are going to happen in this league, but being outplayed is something we are really unhappy with. On the video we have obviously seen the errors, those are going to happen at this point in the season, but a lot of it came down to who wanted it more.
“There are no excuses, and we have to use this as motivation.”
Ones to watch – Saracens
At Kingsholm last week Nick Tompkins impressed Mark McCall with his all-round game and the manner in which he handled the intense atmosphere. As a graduate of the Saracens academy Nick is learning his trade fast and if last Friday night’s performance is anything to go by he should enjoy a fruitful time in the centres this season.
In the opening two rounds Petrus du Plessis has shown what an anchor he is in the front row. Life as a prop is slightly less glamourous than a fly-half or winger however the work that Petrus does is just as important. Everyone knows that without a solid and effective scrummage a side’s back line cannot flourish therefore having a master of the dark arts pays dividends.
Last season Ben Spencer stock continued to rise with some steely performance’s in the Anglo-Welsh Cup. It was Ben’s penalty kick that delivered Saracens the LV Cup and after a solid pre-season he’s ready to pressure on. Ben combines great hands with pace and vision and his metronomic kicking is exactly what’s required from an Aviva Premiership starter.
Ones to watch – London Irish
Brendon McKibben arrived at London Irish from the Waratahs and has immediately settled in at Sunbury. In the opening two rounds it has been Brendon’s quick hands and pace that has made him stand out and on the faster track at Allianz Park he’ll be a handful for Saracens to deal with.
After a short but important time with Scotland Blair Cowen is back in the emerald green of London Irish. Blair crossed for Irish’s only try at Sandy Park and his impact was noticeable from the moment he stepped onto the field. Blair’s work rate is second to none, he has an engine that just keeps on going and will certainly give Saracens’ back row something to think about at the breakdown.
Another Scottish International that will be sure to make an impact this weekend isSean Maitland as the cousin of Quade Cooper has an eye for a break and the pace to go with it. Sean’s British and Irish Lions experience will be invaluable to a relatively young London Irish back line, Topsy Ojo aside, and should add greatly.
Since joining form the Leicester Tigers George Skivington has established himself as London Irish’s first choice lock and club captain. George is an athletic individual that, like Blair Cowen, never ceases in terms of his output and energy and his burly frame often life very difficult for opponents at the set piece.
- 27 – Carries made by Jackson Wray in the opening two rounds of Aviva Premiership Rugby
- 2 – The number of Aviva Premiership sides to remain unbeaten going into Round 3; Saracens and the Leicester Tigers
- 3 – Only three sides have beaten Saracens at Allianz Park in the domestic competition; Northampton Saints, Exeter Chiefs and London Irish
- 42 – The number of clean breaks that London Irish’s Alex Lewington made last season
- 22 – The number of points Saracens scored in the same fixture at Allianz Park last season against the Exiles
- 1898 – Year these two sides first played each other