Friday, December 14, 2018

Preview : Leinster v Bath



Has your day to day planning become dependent on weather apps like me?  Honestly I don't know what we did before when we had to rely on some guy putting stickers on a board after 9pm the night before!  Yeah I'm that old!

Anyway the folks at both Accuweather and Google (cue a thousand comments recommending much better sources…though I do appreciate them, always looking for improvements) say rain is to be the order of the day tomorrow at the Aviva so it will be interesting if the conditions are as much of a “leveller” as they were at the Rec.

That's not to say our “close call” of a victory was all down to the weather of course; Bath's ability to use it played as much of a role if not more, and I said as much in my writeup.  All I'm saying is that another wet day could hamper our ability to improve in the areas where we struggled.

Still, I have to say I like this lineup.  For one thing it does pretty much exactly what I called for after last week. In the centre, while I thought Noel Reid had a good outing and even played a big role in our first try, overall our ability to play our game was adversely affected by persistent failure to get on the front foot and for this I believe O’Loughlin could be a better option in the 12 channel.  At least Reid's display was rewarded to an extent by not being excluded altogether and he could well have some impact wearing 23.

Then there were our problems out the back of the scrum which were easily solved by starting Jack Conan.  Of course this involved sacrificing Rhys Ruddock but these days at Leinster you're always leaving quality back rowers behind and I still think both Leavy & JVDF are needed to front up against a Bath 6/7/8 combo that can be very effective at the breakdown.

And of course when the lineup was put before us, who in their right minds didn't automatically go looking for the Leinster number ten jersey after Sexton limped off last week? Great to see his name there though we have been down this road before so I won't be entirely happy until I see him actually out on the hallowed Lansdowne Road turf wearing blue.  Were he to not make it I'd assume Reid will move to 22 as back up to Byrne with Dave Kearney joining the bench.

Speaking of Byrne, Rob's omission means Adam gets a start and I'm hoping the rain isn't so bad that Sexton's ability to hook up with him on high hanging garryowens will be hampered.  That's quite a weapon and it has worked before this year at the same venue.

When it comes to Bath, I can't help feeling they gave it everything last week…that's not to say that can't give it again this, but hopefully we'll be able to shift up a gear or two so a similar outing from them may not be enough.  As always, good discipline and solid set pieces from us will make it extremely difficult for them to find a foothold and I think we seem to have enough with the changes we've made plus the home advantage to keep them at bay.

If we're serious about winning the pool, a home quarterfinal and even a fifth star, then our target has to be a full five match points.  Going into the match, whatever the weather, anything less would be a disappointment .

And the bookies certainly agree, having us down to win by a whopping 23 points.  We definitely have the ability to put that kind of score on them…we did it before on this ground and we've been feeding our opponents plenty of fiftyburgers this season.

But given the weather and everything, while I want to see an improvement on last week (plus I have a feeling a certain Mr Lowe could be keen to be more involved in the scoring side of things) I think there might still be enough shortcomings to allow our visitors a score or two more than we'd like so I'm going for a 14-16 point win including the bonus point.

I suppose I should mention the aul flag situation…I gave my opinion on last week's fiasco in Harpin Points on Wednesday, but when it comes to this weekend, all I can say is let's wave ours as much as we can as well as having plenty of online craic with it in the process!

Looking forward to seeing you there, let's make it another great day for the boys in blue! JLP


Bath : 15. Ruaridh McConnochie 14. Semesa Rokoduguni 13. Jackson Willison 12. Jamie Roberts 11. Cooper Vuna 10. James Wilson 9. Will Chudley
1. Jacques van Rooyen 2. Tom Dunn 3. Henry Thomas 4. Dave Attwood 5. Charlie Ewels © 6. Tom Ellis 7. Sam Underhill 8. Francois Louw
Replacements 16. Jack Walker 17. Nathan Catt 18. Max Lahiff 19. Elliott Stooke 20. Matt Garvey 21. Kahn Fotuali’i 22. Alex Davies 23. Darren Atkins 

Heineken Champions Cup 2018/19 Round 4
Saturday, December 15, 2018
KO : 5:30pm
Aviva Stadium

Ref: Pascal Gauzère (France) 
Assis Ref 1: Maxime Chalon (France)  
Assis Ref 2: Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)  
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

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