Friday, November 13, 2015

Preview : Leinster v Wasps



Isa's late withdrawal gives the Leinster backline an altogether different look.  Would it have been better to move Kirchner to FB and promote Ringrose from bench to wing?  Perhaps.  But then again it was a bit weird overlooking Madigan from the starting lineup in the first place so I guess that explains why they have gone with himself.  

I assume what I propose above it what will happe should Sexton be forced from the field of play - let's not forget there were a few question marks over his fitness from last week.

While I'd love to say I feel this change makes no difference to our chances, Madigan's weak point has always been kicking in open play and this will no doubt be severely tested today, probably by design from Wasps' standpoint.

I'm still going for a Leinster win but now by just 3-5 points.


HoR pro logo blueApparently Ospreys coach Steve Tandy is calling his Rugby Champions Cup Pool 2, which includes Clermont, Bordeaux and Exeter, a “Pool of Death”.  And no sign anywhere in the article of the words “tongue”, “in” or “cheek”.
Has the Citing Commissioner been notified?  I reckon a hearing should be held immediately, with perhaps a forgiving low-end sanction of, say, three to four weeks’ ban from describing stuff.  Because everyone that’s anyone knows which of this season’s groupings deserves that moniker, and Leinster are right there in amongst it in Pool 5.
And while we’re at it investigating people’s perceptions, we could have a look at BT Sport, aka PremiershipTV.  They seem to be promoting their coverage of the RCC by suggesting that it’s a perfect way for English fans to forget the nightmare of a World Cup just gone.   So a competition that an English team hasn’t won since 2007 is going to help ease that pain, is it?

It’s that last English team to be crowned Champions of Europe that is arriving in Dublin to play Leinster in that pesky Sunday lunchtime kickoff.  And of the two Wasps players involved in that 25-9 victory over Leicester still active today, one is fit to play at the RDS - Eoin Reddan, clad in blue these days of course.

Also involved that day at Twickenham was Leo Cullen - he was on the bench for the Tigers.  As that European campaign ended for him, even in his wildest dreams he couldn’t have imagined that eight years later he’d be starting one as Leinster coach having lifted the trophy himself three times!

OK - that’s enough time travel for now.  Suffice it to say today’s Wasps are very different to those championship winning sides, and despite the returning heroes for Leinster, the same could be said about us what with all the water having gone under Ball’s bridge in recent years.

Hopefully it’s just a coincidence that on Friday 13th we name our first European side of the new campaign with both of our best options for that 13 jumper unavailable.   Perhaps we’ll never know if Ben or Luke  would have gotten the nod.  (hang on - Ben or Luke? Many references and pun opportunities around the time of the Star Wars premiere, do I see!)

Instead the duty falls to Fergus McFadden...he has certainly played there before but from an attacking standpoint we won’t have the levels of line-breaking we might have had.

But the confidence I have for a Leinster triumph this weekend stems mostly from our defence.  We have one of the best records in the Pro12 and Kurt McQuilkin certainly hasn’t taken long to work his magic.  This Reid-Ferg axis might not be that familiar, but I for one would be happy not to see either personally cross the whitewash once their own channels are kept solid.

From what I have seen of Wasps so far this season, while they have many attacking options not least of which is Christian Wade (he certainly knows how to find the try line against us), their success with the ball seems to stem mainly from having opportunities presented to them.  When it comes to creating them, not so much.

This was evident just last weekend when in 35 second half minutes with an extra man and one try already scored, they only managed a second and that was a penalty try, and all this against a shambolic Gloucester outfit.

So once Leinster can keep things tidy on our side of the equation, I’d like to think we’re organised enough to keep them at bay more often than not.

Having said that, there is another way they can get the scoreboard moving at a steady pace.   Mathieu Raynal from France is the referee, and should we get the wrong side of him at any stage, Elliot Daly has a boot that could kick a penalty goal at the RDS all the way from the back pitch at the Aviva Stadium.

And when it comes to arguably Wasps’ most potent combination on the park, while their back row is still a formidable one without James Haskell (also involved in that 2007 final btw), Leinster happen to be almost embarrassingly deep in talent in that area, though we will need Messrs Murphy, O’Brien and Heaslip to each bring their A game on the day.  Plus for all the strength in our pack, there’s yet more on the bench.

No mention of Sexton yet?  Well, of course we will be looking to him to shine on his first start back at the RDS, but like I said earlier, I reckon once we can keep the Wasps at bay, the scores should come.  I’m just hoping he doesn’t go for patterns that are too complicated when they aren’t required, but he should be fine.

Finally right at the bottom of the team sheet I am delighted to see the name G Ringrose.  OK, fine...maybe he is only involved because of our 13 issues, but in the past even in those circumstances provincial selectors have gone to great lengths to “protect” youth from big occasions...for example, who knows how Johnny Sexton’s CV would read right now had Dr Phil not been injured at Croke Park on that fateful day in 2009.

There are other ways we could have gone with this squad so I’m always happy to see coaches willing to go with the young talent.  Maybe he could even have started at 13?

Anyways...time for predictions.  The bookies have us at 9 points - wow.  I want to say we’ll deny them the losing bonus, I really do.  I want to say we’ll actually blow them off the park because I think we have the ability to do that, and in this real Pool of Death, we probably should entertain some thoughts of going for a maximum five pool points.

But the constant chopping and changing in our centre worries me just a bit.  Not enough that I reckon we’ll lose though - I’m going for a Leinster win by 5-7 points though we could well come off the park feeling we’d left a try or two behind.

Maybe a bumper RDS crowd making a ton o’ noise will help us get those scores?  Hopefully I’ll not only see you there but also hear you!  Let’s do this!

And of course lest I forget…best of luck to the A team over in Rotherham on Saturday, here’s to yet another successful B&I Cup campaign.


Wasps team

Rugby Champions Cup 2015/16 Pool 5 Round 1

Sunday, November 15, 2015

At RDS Arena, 1pm. Live on BT Sport Europe

Referee Mathieu Raynal (France)

Touch Judge 1 Cyril Lafon (France)

Touch Judge 2 Thomas Dejean (France)

Fourth Official Paul Haycock(Ireland)

TMO Philippe Bonhoure (France)

Citing Commissioner Jeff Mark (Wales)


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