sport

Geraghty: We'll give it everything

Shane Geraghty has vowed that London Irish will give it everything when he captains the Exiles against his former club Northampton on Sunday.

Irish will arrive at Franklin's Gardens on the back of a blistering first-half performance against Newcastle six days ago when they scored 40 points.

And they will tackle a Saints side that has suffered three successive Aviva Premiership defeats since the conclusion of this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.

Northampton still lie second in the table following Leicester's narrow defeat against Harlequins on Friday night, and a win this weekend would keep Saints on course for a home play-off tie next month.

And Geraghty, who spent two seasons at the Gardens between 2009 and 2011, is only too aware of the threat posed by Jim Mallinder's men.

"I look back on my time there with fond memories, but my future is with London Irish," fly-half Geraghty said.

"We know all about their (Northampton's) quality. They have internationals all over the place and they will be hungry, looking to get back to winning ways and going for the bonus point, probably.

"And we have to produce the kind of defensive performance we did against Newcastle if we're going to have any chance of winning.

"But we all want to finish the season on a high, and we will be going there giving everything we've got.

"We have shown this season we can travel well, and we want to show it again against one of the best teams in the league."

Geraghty takes over as Irish skipper from lock George Skivington, who has a back injury, and England wing Marland Yarde replaces broken jaw victim Topsy Ojo.

Australian star James O'Connor, meanwhile, misses out with a hamstring problem, so Alex Lewington starts at full-back.

Irish rugby director Brian Smith added: "We enjoyed a good win last weekend, but we have picked up a few injuries for our troubles.

"The players stepping in know they have big shoes to fill. Northampton will be a step up this weekend, so we know we will have to be at our best to compete."

Saints show three changes following a 28-24 defeat against leaders Saracens last time out, with scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i handed a start, while back-row pair Phil Dowson and Sam Dickinson feature in the back-row alongside Tom Wood.

Saracens, 10 points clear at the Premiership summit and certain to be at home in the play-offs, visit Newcastle on Sunday with scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth underlining that there can be no let-up.

"Every game you play for Saracens is important. We talk about never having a pick and choose mentality," England international Wigglesworth said.

"It's a great chance for us to show how good the squad is. Some lads have waited a few weeks to show what they can do.

"Also it's great to have two top players in Will (Fraser) and Al (Hargreaves) back from long injuries to boost the squad for the end of season run-in."

Newcastle boss Dean Richards has made seven changes following the Falcons' drubbing against Irish, with former Saracens centre Adam Powell among those who feature.

Elsewhere, fly-half Joel Hodgson is handed his first Premiership start of the season, replacing Rory Clegg, and there are also call-ups for Mike Blair, Alex Tait, George McGuigan, Dom Barrow and Richard Mayhew.

"We have trained well this week, eager to make amends for last week," Newcastle rugby director Dean Richards said.

"Saracens are a quality side and will be difficult opposition, but this is a game that the lads should relish and look forward to."