Friday, September 21, 2018

Preview : Leinster v Edinburgh

It was in round 5 not 4 that we hosted Richard Cockerill's Edinburgh at the RDS last season, and going into it we were expecting a comfortable win yet coming out of it we felt lucky to be escaping with four match points.

We needed one of our trademark tries at the end of the first half (we got another one just last weekend) to inch us in front and despite a 51st minute yellow card for James Ritchie we didn't manage to pull away from our guests until the closing stages, when a converted try by Jamison Gibson-Park denied them the losing bonus point.

There was, shall we say, something of a debate going on after the match surrounding the performance of referee Ian Davies.

Here's how the excellent Scottish Rugby Blog put it :

"...if you believe in an anti-Edinburgh refereeing conspiracy, some of the calls in this game might add fuel to your fire."

And here's how Harpin On Rugby put it : 

"...if you choose to play with that level of physicality and that close to the edge of the Laws, that's fine but don't complain if the ref in turn chooses to look for it"

I won't insult your intelligence by telling you which side Embra coach Richard Cockerill was on!  Never short of a word about perceived forces working against him is ol' Cockers, and as chance would have it, he was at it again after their win over Connacht just last weekend.

Now to be fair, having seen the match I actually do think he had a case to make about Connacht having shipped a ton of penalties without further sanction (thus potentially denying him a bonus point) but the problem with playing that "we was wronged" card is that it only works so many times.

He'll probably need more than that to overcome Leinster's second top heavy home lineup in as many weeks, though considering the lads from the Scottish capital went on from last year's defeat all the way to the playoffs, they have every right to demand more respect from previews this time around, yes?  Well, not according to the bookies...they're still going for a winning margin of over twenty points; maybe that's because we went on to have a decent enough campaign ourselves.

Johnny Sexton leads out the side again and this time it's for his 150th cap, and after JGP's man-of-the-match display last week, Luke McGrath returns to the starting lineup to remind us of what he can do.  Once more outside the halfbacks is the dream 'Henrose' pair of centres...they did well against the Dragons although Garry could well be watching his missed tackle count on Saturday.

Then we have this week's "ANZAC dilemma" seeing Scott Fardy sit out so that James Lowe can entertain the RDS crowd for the first time this season.  Having Larmour and McFadden alongside him in the back three gives us plenty of try-finishing capability so the expectations will be high once again.

In the pack there has been some chopping and changing but the same back row as last week while Devin Toner and James Ryan are reunited in the second row.  James Tracy has the job of keeping the lineout darts accurate after some wobbles last time out, here's hoping the wind has died down from during the week...

It promises to be another good week for the Leinster bench and after Josh van der Flier's return it will be great to see Dan Leavy back in action as well.  Also we have a replacement front row many top clubs in Europe would happily start, that includes Peter Dooley who impresses for the boys in blue every time I see him.

On the visitors' side, I expect very similar tactics to those they employed last year - though they would do well to take note from Ross Moriarty's efforts and try to sell their treachery a lot better.

Last week I was challenging us to beat the big winning margin laid down by the bookies...this time I'll be happy if we stay on the other side of it.  Four tries might be hard to come by although I'm expecting our defence to keep their side of the scoreboard down and if Embra bring the physicality Sexton could get to kick a few penalties so I'm going for a home win of around 12-15 points.

Best of luck to the A team as well who travel to play their Scarlet counterparts in an effort to maintain their perfect Celtic Cup record so far.  Hopefully we'll be celebrating two Leinster wins come Saturday night.  See you at the RDS!  JLP


Edinburgh :  15. Dougie Fife 14. Jamie Farndale 13. Chris Dean 12. Juan Pablo Socino 11. Duhan van der Merwe 10. Jaco van der Walt 9. Sean Kennedy
1. Allan Dell 2. Ross Ford 3. Simon Berghan 4. Fraser McKenzie > CAPTAIN 5. Ben Toolis 6. Luke Hamilton 7. Jamie Ritchie 8. Magnus Bradbury
Replacements: 16. Dave Cherry 17. Pierre Schoeman 18. Murray McCallum 19. Callum Hunter-Hill 20. Luke Crosbie 21. Nathan Fowles 22. Simon Hickey 23. James Johnstone.

Guinness Pro14 2018/19 Round 4
Saturday, September 22, 2018
KO 7:35pm
RDS Arena

Referee: Dan Jones (WRU)
AR1: Adam Jones (WRU) 
AR2: Chris Busby (IRFU)
TMO: Simon McDowell (IRFU)
Live on Premier Sports 2, eir sport 1

Leinster ‘A’ matchday squad v Scarlets ‘A’ : 15. Hugo Keenan 14. Adam Byrne 13. Conor O'Brien 12. Jimmy O'Brien 11. Jack Kelly > CAPTAIN 10. Noel Reid 9. Hugh O'Sullivan
1. Michael Milne 2. Ronan Kelleher 3. Vakh Abdaladze 4. Oisín Dowling 5. Jack Dunne 6. Josh Murphy 7. Ronan Foley 8. Caelan Doris

16. Dan Sheehan 17. Giuseppe Coyne 18. Jack Aungier 19. Ryan Baird 20. Ronan Watters 21. Patrick Patterson 22. David Hawkshaw 23. Michael Silvester

Celtic Cup 2018 - Round 3
Saturday September 22, 2018
Parc y Scarlets
Kickoff 2:30pm


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