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Preview: Leicester Tigers v London Irish

Preview: Leicester Tigers v London Irish

Leicester utility back Mat Tait has warned his teammates against complacency as they go head-to-head with Aviva Premiership Rugby’s bottom club London Irish at Welford Road this weekend.

The Exiles may be in a precarious league position presently but Leicester are also experiencing a midseason slump and head into the fixture off the back of three straight leagues losses.   

Leicester have not lost four Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures in succession since season 2004 and it’s not a repeat performance Tait is hoping for this weekend.

The Tigers were defeated 10-3 by Sale in their most recent encounter at Welford Road, and have not lost back-to-back encounters at the famous venue since January 2014.

Despite the recent slump and struggles in the league, Tait remains confident of producing a result against London Irish and has called for an urgent improvement. 

“We played some decent rugby at times against Quins and the positive is that the issues we are dealing with are fairly easy to fix,” he said.

“London Irish are desperate and a lot better than their league position suggests.

“There is always belief here and a lot of experience; we have been to the play-offs on many occasions.

“We are also aware that we can’t take anything for granted. It is not a God-given right just because we play for Leicester Tigers; we have used up any credit we had for losses this season.

“We have just got to focus on our game. It is just about being better at our basic skills and executing those skills better under pressure and I am sure that we will.”  

London Irish's three victories in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season have all come in the last seven rounds, against Northampton, Newcastle and Worcester. 

The Exiles have failed to gain a single league point from any of their six away games in the league this season, while the Tigers have lost just one of their last 14 encounters with London Irish: 22-19 at Welford Road in Premiership Rugby in September 2014.

Exiles head coach Tom Coventry is refusing to white the white flag just yet though and believes the Great Escape is still a distinct possibility. 

London Irish have been affected by injuries in recent months but Coventry refuses to blame the absence of star names for his side’s slump.

"There are nine games to go and we're bottom of the table and we need to be picking up points but I think the fact we found a bit of energy and attitude was promising,” he said.

"We have to win some games away which is not something we have been able to do.

"Without a doubt. We're in the relegation zone, but we need to be strong enough to win away from home, to fight to get the points, be stoic in our review and mentally tough enough to get ourselves through it. It's certainly not all lost, that's for sure.

"On the last count we had 16/17 players injured but gradually the guys are coming back into the mix. Elliott Stooke played a considerable amount of minutes – he only arrived from Gloucester a few weeks ago.

"It's where it is at the moment. Our locks will come back later in the year.

"The boys here at the moment will have to get us through the tough times. We've got a lot of injuries but I thought our team was good enough, it's not an excuse.

"You can use injuries as an excuse or a way of sieging your team together. I think we'll be better.”

Leicester Tigers v London Irish (Welford Road, 3pm)
Referee: Ian Tempest (14th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Peter Allan & Andy Watson. TMO: David Sainsbury.

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