London Irish Seek Crucial Win Against DHL Stormers


London Irish will need a first win of their Heineken Champions Cup campaign to boost their qualification hopes as they welcome DHL Stormers on Sunday at 15h00 at the Gtech Community Stadium, Brentford.

The Gallagher Premiership side went down 32-27 at home to Montpellier Hérault Rugby on the opening night before losing 34-14 to DHL Stormers in Cape Town, leaving them second-bottom of Pool B.

DHL Stormers, meanwhile, are fifth, with their Round 2 win over Irish the perfect response to a 24-14 defeat at ASM Clermont Auvergne in their first-ever Heineken Champions Cup game.

Coming into their Round 3 encounter, London Irish have won two on the bounce in the Premiership while DHL Stormers have won two out of their last three matches in the United Rugby Championship.

Prediction: DHL Stormers by 7.

London Irish's Declan Kidney has named the squad that is set to welcome DHL Stormers.

Will Goodrick-Clarke, Mike Willemse and Lovejoy Chawatama continue in the front row, with Api Ratuniyarawa and Rob Simmons in the second row.

Juan Martin Gonzalez and Tom Pearson are the flankers, and Matt Rogerson captains the side from the number 8 shirt.

Ben White and Rory Jennings are the halfback duo, and Benhard van Rensburg links up with Luca Morisi in the centres.

Ollie Hassell-Collins, Lucio Cinti and Ben Loader combine to form the back three.

“We are excited to welcome DHL Stormers to Brentford on Sunday, the first South African side that we have ever hosted,” said Declan Kidney, Director of Rugby.

“Our trip to Cape Town showed the level of opposition that the Heineken Champions Cup pits you against, and that is the standard that we have to hold ourselves against.

“Before the New Year we had a lot of away trips to contend with, but Sunday is our third home fixture in a row this year. We enjoy playing in front of our supporters and want to put in a performance that they will be proud of.”

There are four changes to the DHL Stormers. There are two changes to the forward pack and two in the backline, along with a few positional switches, for the return clash with the English Premiership outfit, which kicks off at 15h00 SA time on Sunday at the Gtech Community Stadium.

Lock Connor Evans makes his first start for the DHL Stormers, while in the loose trio Junior Pokomela is at blindside flank.

In the backline Angelo Davids comes in for the injured Leolin Zas and a fit-again Ruhan Nel joins Dan du Plessis in midfield, with Damian Willemse at fullback.

Hooker Andre-Hugo Venter, prop Ali Vermaak, scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer and utility back Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu will all get an opportunity from a replacements bench which also includes utility forward Simon Miller, who will make his DHL Stormers debut when he comes on.

Head Coach John Dobson said that his team will need to be at their best to get what would be a valuable away win.

“There are not many team winning away from home in this competition, so we know that it will take our best on Sunday.

“There has been some hard work put in on the training ground this week, so hopefully we will see that pay off come Sunday,” he said.


London Irish: 15. Ben Loader, 14. Lucio Cinti, 13. Luca Morisi, 12. Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 11. Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10. Rory Jennings, 9. Ben White, 8. Matt Rogerson (c), 7. Tom Pearson, 6. Juan Martin Gonzalez, 5. Rob Simmons, 4. Api Ratuniyarawa, 3. Lovejoy Chawatama, 2. Mike Willemse, 1. Will Goodrick-Clarke. Replacements: 16. Ignacio Ruiz, 17. Danilo Fischetti, 18. Ciaran Parker, 19. Chunya Munga, 20. Josh Basham, 21. Chandler Cunningham-South, 22. Joe Powell, 23. Michael Dykes.

Stormers: 15. Damian Willemse, 14. Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13. Ruhan Nel, 12. Dan du Plessis, 11. Angelo Davids, 10. Manie Libbok, 9. Paul de Wet, 8. Hacjivah Dayimani, 7. Junior Pokomela, 6. Deon Fourie, 5. Marvin Orie, 4. Connor Evans, 3. Neethling Fouche, 2. Joseph Dweba, 1. Steven Kitshoff (c). Replacements: 16. Andre-Hugo Venter, 17. Ali Vermaak, 18. Brok Harris, 19. Simon Miller, 20. Ben-Jason Dixon, 21. Willie Engelbrecht, 22. Stefan Ungerer, 23. Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.