Preview: Leinster v Bath

Date published: January 15 2016

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Leinster have made several changes to the forward pack ahead of their European Champions Cup fixture against Bath at the RDS Arena on Saturday.

It's a new look front-row with Peter Dooley, James Tracy and Tadhg Furlong starting for the first time in the Champions Cup. Similar to McGrath, Furlong has 39 Leinster caps to his name to date, but this will be his first European start having come off the bench in six European games up until now scoring one try against Castres last season. Furlong has also been capped three times by Ireland. 

Mike McCarthy is joined by Ross Molony in the second-row while in the back row Rhys Ruddock starts at blindside flanker, with Josh van der Flier on the openside. Jordi Murphy completes the pack from number eight.

South Africa international Zane Kirchner comes in at full-back, with Isa Nacewa captaining from the right wing and Dave Kearney, who scored two tries last weekend against the Ospreys, on the left.

In the centre Ben Te'o and Garry Ringrose are once again selected having performed well together in the recent victory over Connacht, while in the half-backs Luke McGrath makes his first European start in what will be his 38th cap for the province, alongside Ian Madigan.

Bath have named an unchanged starting line-up ahead of this weekend's fixture.

In the backs, Anthony Watson provides the threat from full-back, as Matt Banahan and Semesa Rokoduguni once again start out wide on the wings.

Chris Cook and George Ford, so effective last Sunday, continue their half-back partnership. Fresh from thriving against the challenge of Mathieu Bastareaud and Ma'a Nonu in the south of France are centres Kyle Eastmond and Jonathan Joseph.

Up front, Max Lahiff, Rob Webber and David Wilson are named in the front-row following their powerful performance in Toulon last weekend.

Captain Stuart Hooper partners Dominic Day in the second-row, whilst the back-row once again consists of Matt Garvey, Francois Louw and Leroy Houston.

Form: Including last year's semi-final defeat to Toulon, Leinster have now lost five Champions Cup games on the bounce, their worst ever run of form in the competition. If Leinster lose this game it will be the first time they have lost three home games in a row in the competition. Bath have lost six of seven away games against Irish opposition in this competition, three of those defeats have come at the hands of Leinster. This will be the ninth time these two teams have faced off, the Irish province have won six of the previous eight encounters (L2).

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Isa Nacewa (c), 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Ben Te'o, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 James Tracy, 1 Peter Dooley
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Tom Denton, 20 Sean O'Brien, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Johnny Sexton, 23 Noel Reid 

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Max Lahiff
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 David Denton, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Tom Homer

Date: Saturday, January 16
Venue: RDS
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant Referees: Maxime Chalon (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)
TMO: Eric Gonthier (France)

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