Friday, February 09, 2018

Preview : Edinburgh v Leinster by Ciarán Duffy

It’s that time of year, Jeffs busy with Ireland mens, womens, and u20s duty, and whatever else he does in his spare time (Spelunking?).  Because of this, the Leinster write-up has to be off-loaded.  And when there’s nobody else to do the job, @TheVoiceDepth steps up to dropkick this preview over from 40 yards out.  I present to you, Harpin’ on reader, a soy-based imitation preview.  

Leinster take on Edinburgh this Friday in the Pro14.  The game will be played at Myreside.  This is the first time Leinster will play at Myreside since 2000, that was in the Heineken Cup, Edinburgh won 29 – 21.  

Form-wise, Leinster have won their last 5 in the league and in Europe:

Munster 24 – 34 Leinster
Leinster 21 – 18 Connacht
Leinster 38 – 7 Ulster
Leinster 55 – 19 Glasgow
Montpellier 14 – 23 Leinster

It hasn’t all been easy for Leinster, the games against Connacht and Montpellier were tight.  However, Leinster have only lost twice this season, that last one came against Glasgow back in early November.  

Edinburgh on the other hand are on a mixed run of form, their latest results in the league and Europe are as follows:

Edinburgh 18 – 17 Glasgow
Glasgow 17 -  0 Edinburgh
Edinburgh 37 – 7 Southern Kings
Edinburgh 34 – 33 Stade Francais
Stade Francais 17 – 10 Edinburgh

Edinburgh handed Glasgow their first defeat of the league campaign, before being blanked by them a week later.  A comfortable win against Southern Kings set them up nicely for two crunch games against Stade Francais in the Challenge Cup.  They edged out Stade in the first game before picking up a losing bonus point in the second.  They did enough to secure a home quarter final in the Challenge Cup, they’ll play Cardiff Blues.  

The two sides met for the first time this season back in round 6 in September.  Leinster were the victors on that occasion, winning 21 – 13.  That game came a week after Leinsters first loss of the season against Toyota Cheetahs.  It was a tight game, Leinster led 14 – 13 at the break, having been down 0 – 6, and 7 – 13.  It took a late try from Gibson-Park to secure the victory.  

As always at this time of the season, several Leinster players are away on Ireland duty.  Rob Kearney, Robbie Henshaw, Jonathan Sexton, Jack Conan Dan Leavy, Devin Toner, Tadhg Furlong, and Jack McGrath start, while Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Anrew Porter, Joey Carbery, and Jordan Larmour are on the bench.  Leinster are missing their first-choice front row, some key pack players, their playmaker, and two massive backs.  They’ll also Miss Larmours pace and his quality under the high ball.  Ross Byrne has proven capable at goal kicking, as has Fergus McFadden.

Edinburgh don’t suffer to the same extent, but still miss a few key names.  Stuart McInally, Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist, and Hamish Watson all start, Ben Toolis, and Blair Kinghorn are named as replacements.  

Head to head, Leinster have won 29 times to Edinburghs 10, there have been no draws.  Edinburgh have scored 37 tries while Leinster have scored 54.  Edinburgh have a poor record against Irish sides.  They’ve only won one of their last fifteen, that was back in November 2016, 28 – 17 against Ulster in Murrayfield.  

The team news, Michael Bent will earn his 100th cap for Leinster.  Will Connors makes his debut at openside flanker.  Dave Kearney is at fullback, the first time he has started there since February 2015.  Adam Byrne could make his first appearance for Leinster since the defeat to Glasgow back in November.  Ciarán Frawley could make his debut, having played all 6 of Leinster ‘A’s British & Irish Cup pool matches.  Jamison Gibson-Park will start ahead of Luke McGrath who is on the bench.  Richardt Strauss captains the side.  

For Edinburgh, Murray McCallum comes in having made his Scottish debut last weekend.  Jordan Lay, Luke Crosbie, Bill Mata, Dougie Fiife, and Chris Dean all come in to the side.  

This is a big game for both sides, and for Ulster, who sit just three points ahead of Edinburgh in Conference B.  Edinburgh play Ulster next, a home win here would be massive.  For Leinster, it’s important they keep the pressure on Scarlets ahead of two games against them in the next three.  I’ve said for a while that playing Scarlets twice during the Six Nations is good because Scarlets don’t have the same squad depth as Leinster.  Slipping up here would be a big missed opportunity.  

The game will be refed by Paul Williams of New Zealand.  The touch judges are Mike Adamson and Lloyd Linton, both of Scotland.  The TMO is Neil Paterson, also of Scotland.  

Predictions, I’d say a Leinster win, not sure about the BP.  It’s a strong enough team to come away with 4 points.  Kick-off is at 19:35, the game is live on TG4


Leinster matchday squad:
15. Dave Kearney 14. Fergus McFadden 13. Rory O’Loughlin 12. Noel Reid 11. Barry Daly 10. Ross Byrne 9. Jamison Gibson-Park
1. Peter Dooley 2. Richardt Strauss (C) 3. Michael Bent 4. Ross Molony 5. Scott Fardy 6. Josh Murphy 7. Will Connors 8. Max Deegan
Replacements 16. Bryan Byrne 17. Ed Byrne 18. Óisín Heffernan 19. Mick Kearney 20. Peadar Timmins 21. Luke McGrath 22. Ciarán Frawley 23. Adam Byrne

Edinburgh Matchday Squad
15. Dougie Fife 14. Darcy Graham 13. Mark Bennett 12. Chris Dean 11. Duhan van der Merwe 10. Jaco van der Walt 9. Nathan Fowles
8. Jordan Lay 7. Cameron Fenton 6. Murray McCallum 5. Fraser McKenzie 4. Lewis Carmichael 3. Luke Crosbie 2. Jamie Ritchie 1. Bill Mata

Replacements: 16. Neil Cochrane 17. Rory Sutherland 18. Matt Shields 19. Magnus Bradbury 20. John Hardie 21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne 22. Junior Rasolea 23. Glenn Bryce

Guinness Pro14 2017/18 - Round 14 Friday, February 9, 2018 KO 7:35pm Aviva Stadium Referee: Paul Williams (NZRFU, 1st competition game) AR1: Mike Adamson (SRU). AR2: Lloyd Linton (SRU) TMO: Neil Paterson (SRU) BBC ALBA: 19:25 TG4: 19:30
Ciarán Duffy (@TheVoiceDepth) is a Leinster supporter and self-proclaimed ‘big cheese’ of Post To Post (@PostToPostSport).   He’ll write about anything rugby under the condition he gets to take it too seriously.

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