London Irish v Gloucester, Aviva Premiership, September 19
Irish tackle Cherry and Whites
September 16, 2010
London Irish were undone by Nick Abendanon's last-gasp try for Bath at the Rec last weekend © Getty Images
London Irish will be desperate to return to winning ways against Gloucester at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday (ESPN, 2.30pm BST).
The Exiles suffered a demoralising defeat to Bath last weekend after Nick Abendanon's late try at The Rec ended their hopes of opening the season with successive victories following their promising win against Saracens. The defeat came with added disappointment of losing flanker Steffon Armitage for a number of weeks after he fractured his right shin, but George Stowers escaped a ban for his red card during in the game.
Despite recording their first win of the season with a 22-21 defeat of Leeds, Gloucester were unhappy with their performance at Kingsholm last Saturday. The Cherry and Whites turned in a poor second-half performance, typified by handling errors and silly decisions, and only escaped with the points when Leeds hit the post with a late penalty.
London Irish - Player to Watch: Nick Kennedy is back in action in the Exiles' second-row and while the England management still don't seem to rate him, he'll terrorize the Gloucester lineout.
London Irish - Team News: The Exiles are bolstered by the inclusion of Kennedy and centre Seilala Mapusua. However, Armitage fractured his shin last weekend so Kieran Roche has been moved to the back-row to fill the void left by the England flanker.
Gloucester - Player to Watch: Nicky Robinson has had a slow start to the season but the former Cardiff fly-half is a dangerous playmaker when on his game. Will need to match Ryan Lamb - who is up against his long-time club - for invention.
Gloucester - Team News: Scotland lock Jim Hamilton has recovered from the virus which saw him miss Gloucester's opening two league fixtures so he will make his debut alongside Alex Brown in the second-row.
Key Battle: Jim Hamilton versus Nick Kennedy has a nice ring to it, with the giant Scot pitting his powerful frame again the Exiles' technician.
Trivia: The last seven meetings between the two clubs have been won by the home side.
Stats: London Irish have won just one of their last five Premiership games and have not won at the Madejski stadium since March 28, when they beat Sale.
"We have had a good start to the season and belief in the squad is very high at the moment. Defensively we were excellent last week and after the bonus point win against Saracens at the London Double Header we are in a strong position for our first match in front of our home fans." - London Irish head coach Toby Booth
"Jim's (Hamilton) another lineout option. He's a big angry man. He's 130kgs, which hopefully he's going to throw around. He's here to be physical and that's what we want." - Gloucester head coach Bryan Redpath
Fantasy: London Irish fly-half Lamb has been the king of the assists in ESPN's Premiership Rugby Fantasy Game so far, crafting three tries to date.
Prediction: The Exiles should shade this one, their inconsistency is matched by that of Gloucester and home advantage should finally tell.