x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Exiles look to chop Sarries' lead at top

Toby Booth accepts his London Irish team must produce "an outstanding performance" to have any chance of ending Saracens' unbeaten Guinness Premiership record.

Toby Booth accepts his London Irish team must produce "an outstanding performance" to have any chance of ending Saracens' unbeaten Guinness Premiership record. Whatever happens at the Madejski Stadium today, Saracens will end 2009 as league leaders. But Irish, six points behind them in second spot, can close the gap with victory in front of an anticipated 20,000 crowd. And the Exiles are boosted by England full-back Delon Armitage's first start since he suffered a shoulder injury in September that sidelined him for the autumn internationals.

"We rediscovered our early-season try-scoring form over the past fortnight in the games against Brive in the Heineken Cup," said rugby director Booth. "Not only did that bring a timely confidence boost for all concerned, it was also encouraging to see that seven different players from both backs and forwards touched down." More than 75,000 are expected at Twickenham today for Harlequins' so-called 'Big Game 2' against a Wasps side that features fly-half Danny Cipriani.

Cipriani, now fully recovered from a fractured fibula, has not started a match in Wasps colours for 12 weeks. Wasps boss Tony Hanks said: "We have picked the team based on the type of game we anticipate against Quins and believe this is the right game and right time for Danny Cipriani to come back. "What is pleasing is that, over the last few weeks, Dave Walder has really set the bar high in terms of the standards and expectations of a Wasps fly-half.

"We are very fortunate to have that wealth of talent at 10, which enables us to rotate and use different combinations." Elsewhere, Bath face Gloucester, Leicester host Sale and Leeds visit Newcastle. * PA Sport Harlequins v Wasps, 8.15pm, Showsports 3