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Nic Ladds 30th Jan 2009 - 18:33

Irish can leave Cherry and Whites black and blue

This should be an absolute belter as first meets second with London Irish at 13/10 in the betting and Gloucester at odds of 4/7.

No one expected Irish to be top of the Guinness Premiership but they are proudly sat top of the pile and playing some truly excellent rugby.

The Exiles annihilated Gloucester 42-12 when these two sides met last and there is no reason why Irish can't record another victory.

They are missing a couple of key players due to International duty but Delon Armitage and Nick Kennedy have been released for this game.

Gloucester's moral must be at an all time low. Defeats to Cardiff and Biarritz saw them crash out the Heineken Cup.

Add to that a host of injuries and it is hard to make a case for The Cherry and Whites getting a positive result.

Home advantage could tell of course and Gloucester do have the players to bounce back but Irish receiving four points on the handicap at 10/11 looks a gift with the home side 10/11 giving up the four.

London Irish half time/full time at 5/2 could be the bet as if the match goes anything like it did in the first fixture this could be over at half time.

Whilst a similar capitulation is unlikely a winning margin of 6-10 points at odds of 6/1 or 11-15 points at 9/1 in favour of the away side look feasible.

If Gloucester are to bounce back (and they could) then it is likely to be close with a winning margin of 1-5 at 4/1 and 6-10 at 5/1.

The Cherry and Whites home form is too patchy to have that as a major factor as to why they are favourites. If players like Ryan Lamb and James Simpson-Daniel can bring their 'A' game they have enough to shake up any side.

You get the feeling that the likes of Topsy Ojo and Elvis Seveali' will give the home defence a torrid time and Armitage and Kennedy will be desperate to impress to cement a place in the Six Nations team.

This should be hugely entertaining and the Exiles should be able to find a way in and heap more misery on Gloucester.

Recommendation:
London Irish - 13/10

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