Friday, December 15, 2017

Preview : Leinster v Exeter Chiefs

So it had been a really good week here at Harpin Manor - the writeup for the win in Exeter got good reviews, we have the return at the Aviva to look forward to, and what's more Canterbury sent us some nice gear for a competition.  Then it came time to announce the Leinster team...

Every week. if I can make the time to be at the laptop. I try to get the squads for Leinster or Ireland plus their opposition on the Facebook page asap.  This time around I was in a bit of a hurry and got totally fooled by the headline 'Leo Cullen makes one change' - this led me to make the criminal error of scanning for replacements for the flanker, inserting Dan Leavy in last week's team, moving Josh in to replace the injured Ruddock, copy/pasting the lot and putting it up on the page.

Of course I should have copped that Josh would move to seven and also I never realised that the 'one change' was meant to mean the starting lineup not the bench, so I missed that Porter was in for Bent.  Blech.  I tried to save a bit of face by coming up with the apology 'sorry folks I was at sixes at sevens' but the damage was already done 🤣

Anyway the reason you're being bored by blogging banality is that it represents the kind of complacency Leinster can ill afford at the Aviva this weekend.  We totally '#pwned' the Premiership champions and leaders on their own patch, but we've been down a similar road before, winning in England one week before being mediocre against the same bunch at Lansdowne Road days later.

You can bet your bottom Euro that Rob Baxter will have his charges fired up to come back at us on Saturday.  If anything they'll know they could have lost by more on Sunday and you don't rise as high as they have over recent seasons without building up large stocks of pride.  So anyone who thinks this will be a 'doddle' for the home side is kidding themselves.

I have no doubt that they will have a specific plan in place, probably one designed to knock us off our own one, which means it will be important that we take control as early as possible.  As bad a loss as Rhys Ruddock is for us, Josh certainly isn't a bad replacement and he'll be keen to get involved at the breakdown from the get go.

This time the Chiefs have chosen not to rest Jack Nowell and Sam Simmonds, two names you'd expect to see starting every week once fit.  Both are well capable of breaking a match wide open so we'll need to be on our guard...there was just the one slip in our defence at Sandy Park and it was soundly punished - hopefully the 'Henrose' pairing will keep the door firmly shut throughout.

Naturally Johnny Sexton will be instrumental to our fortunes, though this is another opportunity for his fellow halfback Luke McGrath to show how comfortable he is at the highest level - he has been in top form this season especially in the key area of game management.

The bookmakers have us winning by nine...another four-zero split in the match points would definitely put us on the brink of the quarterfinals, though of course simply reaching the last eight won't be enough of a target for Leinster.  I think we'll be good enough for a margin similar to last week's, though perhaps with a slightly higher scores for both teams, if not quite enough for a try bonus point.

Here's to a great day at the Aviva - and don't forget tonight's appetiser in Donnybrook as a strong A team takes on Bristol.  See you at both I hope!  JLP

Exeter : 15 Lachie Turner 14 Jack Nowell 13 Henry Slade 12 Ian Whitten 11 Olly Woodburn 10 Gareth Steenson (capt) 9 Nic White
1 Ben Moon 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie 3 Tomas Francis 4 Mitch Lees 5 Sam Skinner 6 Don Armand
7 Matt Kvesic 8 Sam Simmonds
16 Jack Yeandle 17 Alec Hepburn 18 Harry Williams 19 Jonny Hill 20 Thomas Waldrom 21 Will Chudley 22 Sam Hill 23 James Short.

Rugby Champions Cup 2017/18 - Round 4
Saturday, December 16, 2017
KO 3:15pm
Aviva Stadium.

Referee - Pascal Gauzère (Fra)
AR1 - Maxime Chalon (Fra)
AR2 - Jean-Luc Rebollal (Fra)
TMO - Eric Gauzins (Fra)

Leinster ‘A’ v Bristol : 15. Ciarán Frawley 14. Hugo Keenan 13. Gavin Mullin 12. Conor O'Brien 11. Tommy O'Brien 10. Cathal Marsh 9. Nick McCarthy
1. Ed Byrne 2. Bryan Byrne CAPTAIN 3. Michael Bent 4. Ross Molony 5. Ian Nagle 6. Josh Murphy 7. Will Connors 8. Peadar Timmins
Replacements 16. Ronan Kelleher 17. Peter Dooley 18. Jack Aungier 19. Óisín Dowling 20. Caelan Doris 21. Charlie Rock 22. Jack Kelly

[PS : The Bristol side does not include Ian Madigan - it is officially their own A squad which is known as ‘Bristol United’]

British & Irish Cup 2017/18 Round 4
Friday, December 15, 2017
Donnybrook Stadium
Kickoff 7:30pm


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