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Rupert Wyman 5th Mar 2010 - 21:57

Irish will be unable to stop the Flood in Leicester

Toby Flood returns from the Six Nations and goes straight into Leicester's starting line-up for this all-important Guinness Premiership match against London Irish.

The fly-half will be crucial if the Tigers are to defeat yet another side at fortress Welford Road. Flood will also be keen to impress Martin Johnson as he bids to replace Jonny Wilkinson in the England side when the Six Nations resumes next week.

Leicester were wounded by the way they lost at East Midlands rivals Northampton last week. The Tigers cannot afford another loss against London Irish, who along with the Saints, are challenging Leicester for the title.

The home comforts that Welford Road provides Richard Cockerill's side should be enough to get them back to winning ways. It is 1/5 for the home victory and you can get 10/3 about an away victory.

The Tigers may be without the injured trio of Dan Hipkiss, Ben Kay and Aaron Mauger as well as Dan Cole, Louis Deacon and Lewis Moody who have been retained by England, but there still remains huge talent within their XV.

Captain Geordan Murphy and Martin Castrogiovanni both join Flood in returning from international duty while Australian Lote Tuquiri plays his last match for the defending champions before he leaves the club to return to Australia to play NRL.

I fancy Tuquiri to go out with a bang by scoring a try, it is 2/1 that he does so at any point during the match.

The key battle though could well be at scrum half where England's Paul Hodgson returns for the Exiles and goes head-to-head with Ben Youngs. The Tigers' exciting number nine could be a bit of value at 7/2 to score a try.

Another player returning from England duty is Steffon Armitage and he will have to perform well if Irish are to be able to compete.

As talented as the flanker is I think Leicester will have too much for the visitors as I believe their forwards will dominate thus allowing their backs plenty of the ball and enabling the Tigers to defy the handicap at 10/11, which gives Irish a nine-point start.

I would go even further than the handicap as the winning margin that looks the best bet to me is Leicester by 11-15 points at 9/2.

London Irish may well harbour hopes of finishing in the top two this season but on Saturday I think Leicester will teach them a lesson as the Tigers seek to put their derby defeat behind them and also gain revenge for Irish's victory in the reverse fixture earlier this season.

The Exiles have not been in great form of late either as until winning last time out against Harlequins they were without a win in seven matches in all competitions. So for this writer it should be business as usual for Leicester at fortress Welford Road.



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