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Are the early pacesetters set to fade away?
Can London Irish last the pace of the Aviva Premiership season?
Posted Oct 16, 2010 by Jeff Dawson
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In the first of a series, we are going to take a look at the teams competing in the Aviva Premiership, analysing what they’ve offered so far and what their chances are of success this season. And what better place to start than with early pacesetters, London Irish?
We are five games into the current campaign and the Irish have been in devastating form winning four and losing one scoring a massive 155 points in the process.
They are comfortably the highest scorers in the division and they also boast the meanest defence, but the real question is: Can they keep it up for the rest of the season? I've recently tipped them to take the title but I have had time to analyse further and I have come up with the following.
So far, they have had some big tests and come out the other side. They have beaten Saracens comfortably, eased past Gloucester, thrashed Newcastle and Leeds Carnegie but slipped up at Bath, a side who have invested heavily in new players this season.
In the Heineken Cup they have beaten Munster and then last night lost at Ospreys. This competition could be a big distraction as all clubs aspire to be the European champions.
However, their next five league games will highlight their capabilities of lasting the distance in the Premiership. Next Saturday they travel to promoted Exeter; they then host Sale before two away games at Wasps and Northampton. Following that, they face reigning champions Leicester.
I believe that if they take three or four victories from these five games then they will be the team to beat come the end of the season.
But a lot of this predicted success depends on the fitness of fly-half Ryan Lamb, who has amassed 94 points so far this season, and try machines Topsy Ojo and Sailosi Tagicakibau (good old Irish names!) who have nine maximums between them so far this season.
These three players have been key so far and if the Irish are the keep up this good form and maintain their lead at the top of the table then a lot will fall onto these three.
If they do maintain this fine form then it is a massive improvement on last season when they finished sixth, 21 points of champions Leicester.
I’m tipping them to finish third.