Planet Rugby

Preview: Leinster v Clermont

14th December 2012 11:58

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Jonathan Sexton tackles Lee Byrne Leinster v Clermont Auvergne Heineken Cup Pool 5 Stade Marcel Michelin

Possible Lions: Johnny Sexton and Lee Byrne

Heinke Van Der Merwe and Richardt Strauss will both start in the front row for Leinster's rematch with Clermont in the Heineken Cup.

The champions must win at home to remain in touch with Clermont, as they look for a third successive Heineken Cup title in three years.

Heinke van der Merwe has recovered from injury and the Springbok prop is one of two changes to the front row alongside Ireland international hooker Richardt Strauss. They line up alongside Mike Ross, with skipper Leo Cullen continuing his second row partnership with Damian Browne.

Shane Jennings, a second half replacement in Clermont last weekend, starts in the back-row alongside fellow Ireland internationals Sean O'Brien and number eight Jamie Heaslip.

Eoin Reddan partners Jonathan Sexton in the only change to the backline which started last weekend's game, which means that Andrew Goodman will continue his midfield partnership with Gordon D'Arcy.

David Kearney has recovered from injury to take his place amongst a replacements bench which features several Ireland internationals.

Meanwhile, Clermont fly-half Brock James faces a late fitness test before the re-match with champions Leinster in the Heineken Cup at the Aviva Stadium.

A win for Clermont - who are now favourites to win Heineken Cup Pool 5 - would put them in pole position for a home quarter-final place, whilst also taking out one of their nearest rivals for the title in the process.

David Skrela will replace James if he is unable to play, with Benson Stanley then set to provide cover from the bench.

Julien Bardy and Raphael Chaume both start in the pack replacing Alexandre Lapandry and Vincent Debaty.

Aurélien Rougerie continues to captain the side, the player with the most offloads so far in the Heineken Cup this season.

Odds on Paddy Power: Leinster at 1/3; Clermont at 5/2

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Ian Madigan, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Gordon D'Arcy, 12 Andrew Goodman, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Damien Browne, 4 Leo Cullen (capt), 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Heinke Van Der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Kevin McLaughlin, 21 Issac Boss, 22 Andrew Conway, 23 David Kearney.

Clermont: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Aurélien Rougerie (c), 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Naipolioni Nalaga, 10 Brock James/David Skrela, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Julien Bardy, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Raphael Chaume.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Daniel Kotze, 19 Loïc Jacquet, 20 Alexandre Lapandry, 21 Ludo Radosavljevic, 22 David Skrela/Benson Stanley, 23 Regan King.

Date: Saturday, December 15
Kick-off: 15:40
Venue: Aviva Stadium
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Martin Fox (England), Paul Dix (England)
Television match official: Geoff Warren (England)

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