Humphreys warns of likely Irish backlash

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The Independent Online

Jonathan Humphreys, the Bath hooker, is expecting a fired-up London Irish side when the Exiles visit the Rec for the second of two back-to-back matches between the sides today.

Jonathan Humphreys, the Bath hooker, is expecting a fired-up London Irish side when the Exiles visit the Rec for the second of two back-to-back matches between the sides today.

Irish were beaten by a single point last Sunday, bolstering Bath's position at the top of the Premiership, and Humphreys warned his team-mates that they will have to work at least as hard to win again.

"They will be fired up and desperate to win and we need to ensure that they cannot get into their game plan," he said.

Bath, who top the table by six points ahead of Wasps, expect Robbie Fleck to make his first-team return after recovering from a broken leg. The South African centre comes in for Gareth Knox. With Steve Borthwick on international duty, James Hudson starts alongside Rob Fidler in the second row.

For Irish,Nils Mordt and Nick Greenstock replace the injured Rob Hoadley and Geoff Appleford, who has been called up to play for England in the Hong Kong Sevens. Barry Everitt and Phil Murphy start at fly-half and No 8, and Adrian Flavin comes in for Naka Drotske at hooker. Doug Wheatley takes over at tight-head from Rob Hardwick who faces a late fitness test.

Leicester will be hoping to breathe new life into their Heineken Cup hopes at the Stoop by recording successive victories over Harlequins, who they beat 30-21 eight days ago.

Leicester's Will Johnson comes in for Martin Corry, who has been called up by England, and on the right wing John Holtby replaces Ollie Smith, who has a groin injury. Quins have made four changes, with the former England prop Jason Leonard and Andre Vos, the former Springbok captain, returning to the starting XV. Ace Tiatia replaces the flanker Pat Sanderson, who is on England Sevens duty, and the winger Ugo Monye comes in for Matt Moore.

Nick Beal returns for Northampton after a rib injury for the match against Saracens. Tom Smith will start on the bench if he passes a fitness test. Saracens will give a debut to the 19-year-old flanker Tom Lawy.

Wasps take on Rotherham without Lawrence Dallaglio, Josh Lewsey, Joe Worsley and Peter Richards.

* England, the defending champions, won their opening match of the Hong Kong Sevens, thrashing China 49-0. Ben Gollings eased them to a 14-0 interval lead, converting both of his own touchdowns before England added five more tries in the second half through Appleford (two) Neil Baxter, Peter Richards and Pat Sanderson. Gollings converted all five.

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