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Preview: Leinster v Ulster

29th March 2013 11:42

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Rob Kearney injury story

Back in blue: Rob Kearney

Rob Kearney is one of seven internationals to return to the Leinster starting line-up for Saturday's derby with Ulster at the RDS.

The Louth man joins his brother Dave and Isa Nacewa in the back three, while Dubliner Brendan Macken, on his 24th senior appearance, gets the chance to form a midfield partnership with Leinster's most capped player Gordon D'Arcy, who will line out for the 219th occasion on Saturday.

Hooker Richardt Strauss will make his 75th Leinster appearance after recovering from injury and takes his place in the front-row alongside fellow internationals Cian Healy and Mike Ross. Devin Toner, a second-half replacement last weekend, partners Quinn Roux at lock.

Jamie Heaslip, meanwhile, leads the team and features in an experienced back-row alongside Shane Jennings and Kevin McLaughlin.

Ireland trio Sean Cronin, Leo Cullen and Rhys Ruddock are named amongst the replacements.

Saturday's game will mark Leinster's 100th capped inter-provincial fixture of the professional era.

Meanwhile, Ulster head coach Mark Anscombe has made six changes to the side that lost to Edinburgh last week.

Ruan Pienaar and Chris Henry return to the side having recovered from injury. Number eight Nick Williams, who played the second-half at Murrayfield last weekend, starts his first game since suffering a knee injury in January.

Ireland internationals, Rory Best and Craig Gilroy return to the Ulster side following the Six Nations.

With John Afoa in New Zealand for the birth of his third child, there is a first Ulster start for tighthead Ricky Lutton. The 27 year-old, who was named club player of the year last term signed a development contract with the Province at the start of this season.

Robbie Diack who started at number eight against Edinburgh switches to blindside flanker for the game, while Dan Tuohy reverts to his usual position in the second-row.

Rob Herring, Lewis Stevenson and Paul Marshall drop to the bench. They are joined by back-row forwards Roger Wilson and Iain Henderson who have both recovered from injury.

Academy prop Kyle McCall, who has represented Ireland at U20 level, is in line to make his first appearance for Ulster.

Form: Leinster are the best side in the RaboDirect Pro12 on current form having won their last seven matches since Ulster beat them in Belfast in December. The Leinstermen moved to the top of the RaboDirect Pro12 table for the first time this season following their 22-17 win against the then top of the table Glasgow Warriors last weekend. Leinster's only home defeat to a fellow Irish province since 2003 in the RaboDirect Pro12 was to Munster at the RDS in September 2008. Ulster are winless in their last three Pro12 matches and have picked up just four league points along the way. The Ulstermen have lost their last three away games in the competition since beating Scarlets in Llanelli in early December. The Ulstermen have not beaten a fellow Irish province on their own soil in the Pro12 since a trip to Connacht in September 2009. Ulster's 27-19 victory over Leinster in Belfast in round 11 ended a run of seven straight defeats to the Leinstermen in all competitions, however Ulster have not beaten Leinster in Dublin since August 1999, in the Interprovincial Championship at Donnybrook.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Leo Cullen, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 John Cooney, 22 Andrew Goodman, 23 Andrew Conway.

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Nick Williams 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (c), 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Calum Black, 18 Kyle McCall, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Iain Henderson, 21 Roger Wilson , 22 Paul Marshall, 23 Peter Nelson.

Date: Saturday, 30 March
Venue: Royal Dublin Society
Kick-off: 18:15
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan, David Connolly (both IRFU)
TMO: Jude Quinn (IRFU)

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