TEAM NEWS: Paice back for Irish as Championship rugby returns

27 January 2017

London Irish stalwart David Paice returns to the starting XV for tomorrow’s Greene King IPA Championship clash against Ealing Trailfinders at Vallis Way (kick-off 3pm).

England capped Paice, who alongside teammate Topsy Ojo, is closing in on Justin Bishop’s club record for number of appearances, is one of three changes to the side that defeated Bedford Blues 36-21 on New Year’s Eve.

Mike Coman returns to the pack, getting the nod at blindside flanker, while Canadian international Ciaran Hearn starts at outside centre.

Former Lion Tom Court and double World Cup-winning All Black Ben Franks pack down either side of skipper Paice with George Robson and South African Sebastian De Chaves occupying the second-row.

Coman, Blair Cowan and Ofisa Treviranus form a strong back-row that possesses a wealth of international experience. Meanwhile, in the back division scrum-half Brendan McKibbin and fly-half James Marshall partner one another with both Hearn and Fergus Mulchrone combining in the centres.

Ojo and Aseli Tikoirotuma start on either wing, the expert boot of Tommy Bell orchestrating affairs from full-back.    

The previous meeting between the two sides yielded five tries, the Exiles securing a 32-12 victory over the west London club at the Madejski Stadium back in September.

Racking up 13 league wins on the spin, Irish will be looking to extend their unbeaten run against a side that harbour top four ambitions. Occupying fourth place in the Championship at present, Ealing will be a difficult proposition according to Exiles Director of Rugby Nick Kennedy.

“Ealing have been fantastic this season and thoroughly deserve to be where they are in the league,” said Kennedy.

“They showed against us earlier in the season that they have some talented and experienced players – we know what to expect from them and we will need to be fully prepared for the challenge,” he added.

Irish resume their Championship campaign following the British and Irish Cup break, with Kennedy keen for his side to put on a good display.

“It’s great to get back to playing Championship rugby and I’m looking for a good performance from the boys as we edge closer to the business end of the season.

“We’ve had a good week of training and the lads are getting stronger every week, both on the field and off it.

“I’m sure there will be a great atmosphere at Ealing tomorrow with a big crowd expected and hopefully we can send the supporters home happy with a good result,” said Kennedy.

Following tomorrow's trip to Ealing, Irish welcome Nottingham Rugby to the Madejski Stadium in the Greene King IPA Championship. Tickets are available for the game by calling 0118 968 1016 or click here to book online (kick-off 3pm).   

London Irish: 15 Tommy Bell, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Fergus Mulchrone, 11 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10 James Marshall, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 1 Tom Court, 2 David Paice (c), 3 Ben Franks, 4 George Robson, 5 Sebastian De Chaves, 6 Mike Coman, 7 Blair Cowan, 8 Ofisa Treviranus

Replacements: 16 Todd Gleave, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Oliver Hoskins, 19 Will Lloyd, 20 Luke Narraway, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Johnny Williams

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