Planet Rugby

Preview: Leinster v Edinburgh

09th May 2014 12:36

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SKY_MOBILE David Denton

Starting eight: Dave Denton

Edinburgh boss Alan Solomons has made three changes to his starting lineup for Saturday's final PRO12 fixture against Leinster at the RDS.

Jack Cuthbert's selection for the Scotland 7s squad for this weekend's final leg of the Sevens World Series in London and a knee injury to Tom Brown enforces two changes to the backline.

Carl Bezuidenhout moves to full-back to take the space vacated by Cuthbert, with Harry Leonard coming in to start his last game for the club at fly-half, while Sam Beard starts in place of Brown.

At lock, 22 year-old Ben Toolis has had his increasing involvement in the squad rewarded with his second start of the season, allowing last Saturday's stand-in second-row David Denton to return to number eight in place of Cornell Du Preez.

On the bench, Ben's twin brother Alex Toolis has the opportunity to make a second appearance for the club, while centre Ben Atiga is involved in the match-day 23 for the first time since February.

"Leinster are a benchmark team in Europe. They are an outstanding side that is well balanced and play a physical game at a high tempo, complemented by some very talented individuals," said Solomons.

"They've got a huge depth of experience in their squad that's been built over a long time. They are bearing the fruits of the work that has been put in over the last 10 years.

"It is a massive challenge to play them at home. We know what to expect and we have to gear ourselves appropriately, grit our teeth and put in a good performance."

Meanwhile, Leinster back-row Sean O'Brien makes his first appearance in the PRO12 since the December fixture in the RDS against Ulster that ultimately threatened his entire season. Carried off that evening with a shoulder injury it was thought that his season would be over but his recovery has gone to plan and is actually ahead of schedule so much so that Matt O'Connor has recalled him to the starting XV at a most crucial point in the year.

Jordi Murphy and Jamie Heaslip complete the back-row, Murphy coming in for one of last week's try scorers Shane Jennings. The other changes in the pack sees a completely new front row as recently crowned Leinster Rugby Players' Player of the Year Jack McGrath, lines out with Richardt Strauss and Mike Ross.

Leo Cullen captains the side from the second-row in place of Devin Toner with Mike McCarthy beside him.

There are two changes to the backs with Rob Kearney making way for the returning Fergus McFadden who takes his place on the right wing, with Zane Kirchner taking over the number 15 jersey. McFadden's return is another timely boost as there had been doubts about whether or not he could return in time for the end of season run in having picked up a knee injury in the away loss to Toulon.

Dave Kearney is once again selected on the left wing, as are Gordon D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll in the centre.

The final change is a straight swap at fly-half with Jimmy Gopperth coming in for his 27th Leinster cap, with 212 points to his name this year and Ian Madigan reverting to the bench.

Form: Leinster need just one match point to guarantee a home playoff and two to guarantee that they will be top seed.

The defending PRO12 champions have lost just one of their last eleven contests in the competition: 19-25 at Ospreys in round 19.

The Leinstermen have not been defeated at the RDS in any competition since Ulster were the visitors for a PRO12 encounter in March 2013.

Edinburgh have slipped to four straight defeats in the PRO12 since their 23-19 victory against Dragons at Rodney Parade in Round 13.

Edinburgh have been defeated on all four visits to Irish provinces in all tournaments in 2014.

Edinburgh won 11-6 when the two sides met at Murrayfield in round 10, whilst the Scotsmen are going for a first season's double over Leinster since 2003/04.

Edinburgh have not won in Dublin since a trip to Donnybrook in November 2005.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Leo Cullen, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Rhys Ruddock, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Rob Kearney

Edinburgh: 15 Carl Bezuidenhout, 14 Sam Beard, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Dave Denton, 7 Tomas Leonardi, 6 Mike Coman, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Al Dickinson
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Alex Toolis, 20 Dimitri Basilaia, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Piers Francis, 23 Ben Atiga

Date: Saturday 10th May
Venue: RDS
Kick-off: 1830 BST
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wal)
Assistant referees: Kieran Barry, Peter Fitzgibbon (both Ire)
TMO: Seamus Flannery (Ire)

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