Friday, January 23, 2015

Preview : Wasps v Leinster

Pick 'em.

That's what the bookies are telling us about this "winner-takes-all" clash, and on many levels you really can't blame them for not being able to separate these two sides based on current form.

But is form the only factor?  Not for a match like this, I reckon.

On paper, you could say Wasps' 23-3 victory at the Stoop was far, far more impressive a result than our seven-try RDS tonking of a disinterested Castres.  But for me anyway, a review of the 160 minutes of action tells a different story.

Take away the 14 points Wasps were handed by their hosts on a silver platter and you have a completely different ball game.  Sure, they defended like absolute pests and quite possibly would have come out on top anyway, but that was as much down to Quins' inability to hit them where it hurts as it does their own abilities.

No disrespect meant to Conor O'Shea's squad but when it comes to this particular Leinster selection, we have a very, very different proposition.  We have more ability, we have more experience on occasions like this one, and unlike our double-header back in December, we are now starting to show some belief.  And the "50-burger" certainly didn't hurt on that front, even if we did have a hiccup or two in the first half.

Rob Kearney, Dave Kearney, Jamie Heaslip, Devin Toner, Jordi Murphy, Sean Cronin, Marty Moore, Ian Madigan, Gordon D'Arcy, Fergus McFadden.

All of the above took part in another, slightly more important away match that had to be won last March in Paris.  And I think we all know how that went.  What's more, on top of that experience, we have the undoubted talents of Luke Fitzgerald and the promise of Dominic Ryan and Jack Conan.

Of course I'm not saying this means we're going to win.  There's plenty of talent and experience on the Wasps side of things and if we're not on top of our game we can let this crunch match slip away very easily.

But what I am saying is that if we can play smart and keep our mistakes to a minimum, we can put ourselves in a position to win.  And though the surroundings won't be very familiar to us, they won't be that much more so for Wasps either and you can bet there will be plenty of travelling Leinster support to help make it more of a neutral venue.

If belief is what the boys need to get an edge, then that is exactly what we need to give them.  I believe it will be low-scoring, I believe it will take a gargantuan effort particularly on defence to get the job done, but I also believe we can do it.  I'm going for Leinster by 6 points.  What do you say?


WASPS : 15. Rob Miller 14. Christian Wade 13. Elliot Daly 12. Ben Jacobs 11. Tom Varndell 10. Andy Goode 9. Joe Simpson
1. Matt Mullan 2. Edd Shervington 3. Lorenzo Cittadini 4. Bradley Davies 5. James Gaskell 6. Ashley Johnson 7. James Haskell (c) 8. Nathan Hughes
16. Carlo Festuccia 17. Simon McIntyre 18. Jake Cooper-Woolley 19. Kearnan Myall 20. Guy Thompson 21. Ed Jackson 22. Alex Lozowski 23. Andrea Masi

European Rugby Champions’ Cup Round 6
Saturday 24th January 2015, KO 13:00
Ricoh Arena, Coventry. Live on BT Sport
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Touch Judge: Salem Attalah (France)
Touch Judge: Maxime Chalon (France)
Fourth Official: Greg Macdonald (England)
TMO: Herve Dubes (France)
Citing Commissioner: Alberto Recaldini (Italy)


British & Irish Cup Quarterfinal


Saturday, January 24 at Clifton Lane, kickoff 2pm

As Leinster fans are immersed in the Wasps encounter, there will be another must-win contest for the boys in blue, this time for Girvan Dempsey's "A" side who are going for a "3-peat" of British & Irish Cup titles.

There are plenty of names in the side who have shown form for the senior side in recent times like Bryan Byrne, Brendan Macken, Josh van der Flier and particularly Luke McGrath who much consider himself unlucky not to be involved in Coventry but gets to lead out his side for this knockout fixture.  Also there is a host of upcoming talent in the squad who aren't far off breaking through like Cian Kelleher and Gary Ringrose.

Rotherham currently lie 5th in the RFU Championship, 7 points off the playoff places but with matches to come against lowly Plymouth & Jersey (ironically two of the clubs from Leinster A's qualifying pool) they certainly will feel they can make up some ground.  I doubt that will prevent them from giving their all in front of their home crowd though.  This could be another away squeaker, but this A side have had a knack for finishing on top in matches like this over the years.

If you're on "the Twitter" be sure and show the boys your support this Saturday with the #COTAT (come on the A team) hashtag.

15. Cian Kelleher 14. Garry Ringrose  13. Brendan Macken 12. Colm O'Shea 11. Sam Coghlan Murray 10. Ross Byrne 9. Luke McGrath CAPTAIN
1. Peter Dooley 2. Bryan Byrne 3. Oisin Heffernan 4. Ross Molony 5. Tom Denton 6. Ben Marshall 7. Josh Van Der Flier 8. Peadar Timmins
Replacements 16. James Tracy 17. Ian Prendiville 18. Tadhg Beirne 19. Jordan Coghlan 20. Nick McCarthy 21. Steve Crosbie 22. Billy Dardis

Here is what the Rotherham Titans website has to say on the clash :

Speaking ahead of the important clash Titans Lee Blackett explained, “The boys have done really well to earn themselves a home quarter final tie and as a club we are very pleased to be involved at this stage. However, we know the task at hand is a mammoth one as Leinster are not just a very talented side, but as winners of the competition for the last two seasons, they obviously take the competition very serious.

“We expect the majority of the side they send over to have Guinness Pro-12 and European Cup rugby experience and as a result we know it’s going to be a massive test for us, but all the boys are really looking forward to the challenge.

“The limited footage of what we’ve seen on them has shown us how clinical they are when they create opportunities. They are ruthless when an opportunity arises and they almost always score when the chances arrive. From one to fifteen they are highly skilled and they play at a really high tempo, which means at times they blow teams away. We’ll have to play very well if we are going to give ourselves an opportunity.”

Titans: 15 Sean Scanlon, 14 Michael Keating, 13 Lloyd Hayes, 12 Jordan Davies, 11 Jamie Broadley, 10 Tom Barrett, 9 Dan White, 1 Robin Hislop, 2 Tom Cruse, 3 Mark Tampin, 4 Barney Maddison, 5 Tom Holmes (Capt.), 6 Max Argyle, 7 Jack Preece, 8 Alex Rieder.
Replacements: 16 Ali Birch, 17 Toby Williams, 18 Lewis Thiede, 19 Perry Parker, 20 Ben Morris, 21 James Mitchell, 22 James McKinney. 


Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019