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Preview: Leinster v Ospreys

15th April 2010 12:18

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Leo Cullen Leinster hugger

Leo Cullen: Leading experienced team

Leo Cullen leads an experienced Leinster side for the visit of the Ospreys to the RDS on Friday.

Cian Healy and Mike Ross come into the starting front-row alongside John Fogarty, with Shane Jennings continuing in the back-row alongside fellow Ireland internationals Kevin McLaughlin and Jamie Heaslip.

Shaun Berne partners Eoin Reddan at half-back, while Gordon D'Arcy partners Player of the Month Fergus McFadden who will make his 15th appearance of the season.

Girvan Dempsey starts at full-back in a back three which also includes Shane Horgan and Isa Nacewa, while the replacements bench will only be confirmed on Friday.

Meanwhile, the tired Ospreys need to pull one more special performance out of the bag after their triumph at Ulster on Tuesday, if they are to maintain their race for a Magners League play-off spot.

"We showed plenty of character to do what we did on Tuesday night. A three day turnaround after losing by a point in San Sebastian on Saturday, with flights back from Spain and then out to Belfast was always going to provide a challenge," said coach Jonathan Humphreys.

"The boys are a bit battered and bruised, but I think the response was outstanding and you could see the unity in the group, the way they dug in when it was backs against the wall.

"There's a need to freshen up the 22 again, we feel that we have utilised the squad well over the last couple of weeks and we worked the bench well on Tuesday night, and we are going to have to do the same thing again on Friday.

"It's a top of the table clash, our win against Ulster has put us where we want to be in the table. I'd expect that it's going to be a tight, close game.

"Leinster will be buoyed by their narrow win over Clermont Auvergne last weekend and they will be harbouring ambitions on two fronts. Our focus now is solely on the Magners League, so we'll be looking to get something out of the game to help us towards a top four finish."

Form: Leinster are unbeaten in their last dozen encounters in all competitions, since Newport Gwent Dragons won 30-14 at Rodney Parade in the Magners League on 6 December. Leinster have won their last 13 home games at the RDS in the Magners League since Munster won there, 19-0, on 28 September 2008. Ospreys beat Ulster on Tuesday evening. Leinster have won their last five games against Ospreys, whilst the Welshmen's only previous win on Leinster turf was 16-12 at Donnybrook on 6 March 2005.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Girvan Dempsey, 14 Shane Horgan, 13 Fergus McFadden, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Shaun Berne, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Leo Cullen (c), 3 Mike Ross, 2 John Fogarty, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements from: Richardt Strauss, Stan Wright, Malcolm O'Kelly, Stephen Keogh, Paul O'Donohoe, Eoin O'Malley, Andrew Conway, Simon Keogh.

Ospreys: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Nikki Walker, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Andrew Bishop, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Jamie Nutbrown, 8 Filo Tiatia, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Jerry Collins (c), 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Paul James.
Repla:cements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Craig Mitchell, 18 Ian Evans, 19 Ryan Jones, 20 Mike Phillips, 21 James Hook, 22 Gareth Owen.

Date: Friday, April 16
Venue: RDS, Dublin
Kick-off: 19.05 BST
Referee: Peter Allan (SRU).

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