Planet Rugby

Preview: Leinster v Connacht

28th December 2012 13:38

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Shane Jennings leinster

Captain: Shane Jennings

Shane Jennings leads a young Leinster team for the visit of Connacht with six Ireland internationals in the starting line up.

Amongst them is Fergus McFadden who starts on the right wing in a back three alongside Fionn Carr and full-back Andrew Conway.

Ian Madigan lies in third place in the league's accumulators list with 74 points in 11 PRO12 games so far and he will pair up with Isaac Boss at half back.

In the pack, Heinke van der Merwe is named in the front row alongside Aaron Dundon and Ireland prop Michael Bent, with Devin Toner partnering Ben Marshall at second row. Marshall will make his fifth appearance for the province and is one of four current Academy players or recent Academy graduates in the pack.

Meanwhile, Head Coach Eric Elwood has made four personnel changes to the starting XV as Connacht pursue a season double over the European champions after defeating them 34-6 at the Sportsground in September.

Tomorrow's line-up sees winger Matt Healy earn his first start and cap for the province. The 23-year-old joined Connacht this season and has made a notable impression with the Connacht Eagles whilst competing in the British & Irish cup.

Danie Poolman moves to the right wing and makes way for Eoin Griffin who resumes his centre partnership with Dave McSharry.

In the pack, Denis Buckley is named in the front row alongside Jason Harris-Wright and Nathan White, who captains the side tomorrow. Michael Swift, who returned from injury last week and came off the bench against Munster, will partner George Naoupu in the second row.

Form: Leinster have now slipped to three straight defeats in all competitions, something that's not happened Since May 2010. The Leinstermen are one of only two sides in the RaboDirect PRO12 with a 100% home winning record this season (the other being Ulster). Connacht lost out narrowly (12-16) at home to Munster on Saturday, and have now won just one of their last six PRO12 games: 18-3 at home to Treviso on 3 November. Connacht's only away win against a fellow Irish province in the history of this competition was way back on 13 September 2002: 26-23 against Leinster at Donnybrook. Connacht have already beaten Leinster in the RaboDirect PRO12 this season (34-6 in Galway on 28 September), but have won just once in Dublin since 1985.

Leinster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Andrew Goodman, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Issac Boss, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Shane Jennings (c), 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Ben Marshall, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Aaron Dundon, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Leo Cullen, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 John Cooney, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Adam Byrne.

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Johnny O'Connor, 6 Andrew Browne, 5 George Naoupu, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Nathan White (c), 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Brett Wilkinson, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Eoghan Grace, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Tiernan O'Halloran.

Date: Saturday, December 29
Kick-off: 19:45
Venue: Ravenhill
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan, Mark Patton
Television match official: Jude Quinn (Ireland)

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