Friday, September 14, 2018

Preview : Leinster v Dragons

Wow.  I mean, just WOW.  What a Leinster selection!

I'm not sure if that makes this preview really easy or really risky...

Normally I try to be a tad conservative with these previews, no matter how heavily favoured the boys in blue might be, for fear of tempting the wrath of the rugby gods.  But I really can't justify holding back for this one.

Before we even look at the Leinster team, we have our Saturday guests the Dragons, and I had the 'pleasure' of watching both of their matches so far this season against Treviso and Southern Kings respectively.  Let's just say they weren't games Bernard Jackman will be keen on viewing again, even though they won the latter one.

It wasn't ALL bad...their fullback Jordan Williams looks just as dangerous running from deep as our own Jordan Larmour, but then again that was against the Kings...when you come at them, it's hard NOT to miss.  Another reasonably bright spot in their lineup was hooker Elliot Dee who keeps Richard Hibbard on the bench for the second week running and having seen the former Lion in Week 1, I can see why.

But when you look across the teamsheet at Leo Cullen's selection, you see Sexton. Cronin. Henshaw. Ringrose.  Kearney squared.  Ryan.  Fardy.  Conan.  A returning Van Der Fier.  And also Furlong...who's ON THE BENCH no less.

I think I'm going to have to re-evaluate my prediction policy for this one.  Rugby gods bedamned...this is set up for Leinster to win big.. VERY big.  And that might be just what we need to get us focused on the challenge that lies ahead...somehow matching (or if possible bettering?) last season.

Just the 10/12/13 combo alone would be expected to do the job.  Even if you leave out the attacking options, basically whatever space the Dragons eventually found against their South African opposition at Rodney Parade will not have followed them to Ballsbridge, that's for sure.

And while of course the majority of fans will be rightly expecting a tryfest, after shipping over 50 points in the first two weeks, I'm sure the focus of the coaching staff will be just as strong on keeping the opposition side of the scoreboard down.

Max Deegan has a good opportunity to show his back row versatility at bilndside flanker, while at scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park has another opportunity to prove my theory, that he is of best use to the province from the bench, very wrong.  

When it comes to my prediction, the bookies have made mine easy, though it's more of a challenge.  They have Leinster to win by a whopping THIRTY-SIX points.  I say we aim to beat that and it's very possible that we can.

A possible flaw in my forecast could be our extremely untried halfback pairing on the bench...young Hugh O'Sullivan and Noel Reid.  Should we have a decent lead around the 50 minute mark, I have to assume the likes of Sexton will be hauled ashore so keeping or improving on the margin might not be so straightforward.

But we have to expect the standards to be maintained throughout the squad and as always it's about how the players knit together no matter who's on the park so we'll see if they can make this a home opener to remember that will put the disappointment in Llanelli behind us.

So hopefully I'll see you there, don't forget to go a tad earlier to collect your season ticket pack, and if you can come even earlier than that and/or can stay later, head over the Energia Park Donnybrook where the A team face Cardiff in the Celtic Cup while the Leinster Women have a shot at the Interprovincial title against Munster at 7:30.

Would that I had time to go to all three matches myself, sadly I'll have to miss the women's match but I do aim to do a 'liveblog' of the A match so stay tuned for that.  JLP

#COYB(and G!)IB

Dragons : 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Dafydd Howells, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Josh Lewis, 9 Rhodri Williams
1 Brok Harris, 2 Elliot Dee, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 4 Matthew Screech, 5 Cory Hill (c), 6 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Nic Cudd, 8 Ross Moriarty
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Brandon Nansen, 20 Ollie Griffiths, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Arwel Robson, 23 Jarryd Sage

Guinness Pro14 2018/19 Round 3
Saturday, September 15, 2018
KO 5:15pm
RDS Arena

Referee: Quinton Immelman (SARU)
AR1: Joy Neville (IRFU)
AR2: Mark Patton (IRFU)
TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)

Live on Premier Sports 2,  eir sport 1, TG4  

Leinster Women v Munster: 15. Hannah Tyrrell 14. Gemma Matthews 13. Michelle Claffey 12. Sene Naoupu > CAPTAIN 11. Elise O’Byrne White 10. Nikki Caughey 9. Ellen Murphy
1. Lindsay Peat 2. Emma Hooban 3. Katie O’Dwyer 4. Aoife McDermott 5. Meg Kendall 6. Jeamie Deacon 7. Juliet Short 8. Hannah O’Connor
16. Chloe Blackmore 17. Christy Haney 18. Linda Djougang 19. Rachel Horan 20. Nicole Purdom 21. Niamh Griffin 22. Susan Vaughan 23. Lauren Farrell McCabe

IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship - Round 3
Saturday, September 15, 2018
Energia Park, Donnybrook
KO : 7:30pm

Leinster ‘A’ v Cardiff Blues ‘A’ : Leinster ‘A’ v Cardiff Blues ‘A’ : 15. Jack Kelly CAPTAIN 14. Adam Byrne 13. Hugo Keenan 12. Conor O'Brien 11. Michael Silvester 10. Harry Byrne 9. Patrick Patterson
1. Michael Milne 2. Ronan Kelleher 3. Vakh Abdaladze 4. Mick Kearney 5. Ian Nagle 6. Oisín Dowling 7. Scott Penny 8. Ronan Foley
16. Dan Sheehan 17. Giuseppe Coyne 18. Jack Aungier 19. Jack Dunne 20. Josh Murphy 21. Cormac Foley 22. David Hawkshaw 23. Peter Maher

Celtic Cup 2018 - Round 2
Saturday September 15, 2018
Energia Park, Donnybrook
Kickoff 1pm 


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