London Irish v Newcastle preview: Team news, kick-off time, line-ups and stats for the Aviva Premiership clash
Andy Goode could make his Newcastle debut against London Irish
Bottom-of-the-table London Irish recall Topsy Ojo at fullback
The Falcons also bring in Scott Lawson at hooker and Paddy Ryan at tight-head
The bottom two in the Aviva Premiership clash when London Irish plays host to the Newcastle Falcons on Sunday afternoon at the Madjeski Stadium.
London Irish scrum-half Brendan McKibbin helped the Exiles to a dramatic 25-23 victory over Northampton Saints on Boxing Day, their first league victory of the season, which lifted them off the foot of the table.
However, it took just one week for Newcastle Falcons to ensure the Exiles returned to bottom spot, with the help of their 19-14 triumph over Bath Rugby last weekend.
That victory over the Saints was London Irish’s only four-point haul in their last 11 Aviva Premiership Rugby outings, though they have won their last three home clashes in all competitions.
For Newcastle, Andy Goode could make his Newcastle debut against London Irish, the club he left in pre-season without making an appearance because of injury worries.
The former Leicester, Wasps and England fly-half, 35, signed a three-month contract last month and is named among the Falcons replacements.
Newcastle bring in Scott Lawson at hooker and Paddy Ryan at tight-head.
London Irish recall Topsy Ojo at full-back with Sean Maitland (hamstring) out for two weeks. Jebb Sinclair swaps places with Blair Cowan in the back row.
London Irish head coach Tom Coventry told BBC Radio Berkshire: “There’s still a long way to go in the season to call this a relegation decider.
“Obviously both teams are down the bottom of the table, which makes it interesting for the public and people involved in the competition.
“The difference between us at the bottom and the team in sixth is one win to three wins, so we’re not too far away from getting into the mixer.”
London Irish’s only victory in their last 11 Premiership Rugby fixtures was 25-23 at home to Northampton in their most recent match at Madejski Stadium, the Exiles have actually won their last three matches in all competitions at the venue
Newcastle Falcons achieved their opening Premiership Rugby victory of the season in overcoming Bath at Kingston Park on Saturday, but have only been victorious once on the road in the competition since October 2013 – on a visit to London Welsh twelve months later
The Exiles have won their last thee encounters with the Falcons in Premiership Rugby since Newcastle won 13-11 on their own turf on 27th October 2013
The Tynesiders have not been successful at Madejski Stadium in Premiership Rugby since a visit in November 2009
PLAYERS TO WATCH
London Irish: Alex Lewington
Newcastle: Craig Willis
London Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Luke Narraway, 6 Jebb Sinclair, 5 Will Lloyd, 4 Matt Symons (c), 3 Ben Franks, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Joe Trayfoot, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Fergus Mulchrone
Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Michael Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Nili Latu, 6 Will Welch (c), 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Mark Wilson, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Taione Vea, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Todd Clever, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Andy Goode, 23 Belisario Agulla
Date: Sunday, January 10
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Kick-off: 13:00 GMT
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Greg Garner, Roy Maybank
TMO: Graham Hughes