Preview: Leinster v Connacht

Date published: October 7 2011

Leinster will be looking to make it three wins on the trot win they face Connacht in Dublin on Saturday.

Leinster will be looking to make it three wins on the trot win they face Connacht in Dublin on Saturday.

Having endured a poor start to the season in which they lost two of their first three games, Leinster have begun clawing their way back to the upper echelons of the table with two victories in as many weeks.

A win against local rivals Connacht would further add to the club's upward momentum and with the two teams level on fourteen points, Leinster boss Joe Schmidt knows it's going to be a tough contest.

“It's a huge local derby with them being just down the road in Galway,” said Schmidt.

“A lot of our players have played there and a lot of their players have played a bit here and the players know each other pretty well. They're like brothers. They're best of buddies except on the field.

“We certainly need to start better than we did on Saturday. We can't afford to give Connacht so much latitude and not expect to get a loss on the board.

“I think we were a little bit unlucky that Isa (Nacewa) had an off day with the boot but you've just got to go back and get another few tries and thankfully that's what we did in the second half.

“They'll come here with confidence, they got a bonus point at Ospreys which is a lot better than we did, and they've really been very difficult to beat so far this season

“It's winner takes all, winner stays in the top four and the other one will probably drop out.”

Schmidt has made two changes to the team that beat Arioni, with Ian Madigan coming in at fly-half and Kevin McLaughlin at flank.

Connacht boss Eric Elwood has made just three changes to the starting XV from last week's bonus point loss to the Ospreys.

In the backs, Mark McCrea comes in on the wing, replacing the injured Tiernan O'Halloran.

There are two changes in the forward pack with Adrian Flavin coming in for Ethienne Reynecke at hooker while Ray Ofisa returns at the back of the scrum.

Form: Leinster have won three of their last four games in the RaboDirect PRO12. The Leinstermen have lost just once at home to a fellow Irish province since 2005: 0-18 to Munster at the RDS in September 2008. Connacht's last four matches have all been won by the home side on the day. Connacht have won just once on the road in the tournament since September 2010: 11-9 in Treviso on 3 September. Connacht's only win in their last 15 clashes with a fellow Irish province was 27-13 over Leinster in Galway in April 2010. Connacht have beaten Leinster on four occasions in the history of this tournament, but just one was played in the city of Dublin: 26-23 at Donnybrook on 13 September 2002.

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 Fionn Carr, 13 Eoin O'Malley, 12 Luke Fitzgerald, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Cillian Willis, 8 Leo Auva'a, 7 Rhys Ruddock (c), 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jamie Hagan, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Jason Harris-Wright, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Jack O'Connell, 19 Damian Browne, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 John Cooney, 22 Brendan Macken, 23 Darren Hudson.

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (C), 14 Mark McCrea, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Henry Fa'afili, 11 Brian Tuohy, 10 Niall O'Connor, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 Ray Ofisa, 7 Johnny O'Connor, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Dylan Rogers, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke. 17 Ronan Loughney. 18 Rodney Ah You. 19 Dave Gannon. 20 TJ Anderson. 21 Paul O'Donohoe. 22 Matthew Jarvis. 23 Dave McSharry

Date: Saturday, October 8
Kick-off: 17:00 (16:00 GMT)
Venue: RDS, Dublin
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon
Assistant Referees: John Lacey, Mark Patton
TMO: Dermot Moloney