Planet Rugby

Preview: Leinster v Connacht

25th October 2013 13:07

Share:

SKY_MOBILE Luke Fitzgerald

Luke Fitzgerald: At 13 for Leinster

Leinster boss Matt O'Connor has made several changes to the team to face Connacht in Saturday's PRO12 clash at the RDS Arena.

The management have opted to freshen things up for the visit of Connacht following the squad's exertions over the last fortnight.

Luke Fitzgerald starts at outside centre in a new midfield partnership alongside Noel Reid for the inter-provincial clash. Fitzgerald will make his 113th appearance for the province and he is joined in the backline by fellow Ireland internationals Ian Madigan and Eoin Reddan who form a new half-back partnership this weekend.

Michael Bent will make his first start this season in a front row which includes Sean Cronin and Jack McGrath, who was called up to the Ireland squad for the November series earlier this week. McGrath is one of two uncapped players in the pack alongside Quinn Roux and the team will again be led by Jamie Heaslip who continues in the back-row alongside Kevin McLaughlin and the in-form Sean O'Brien.

Shane Jennings has recovered from injury to take his place on a strong-looking replacements bench which includes the likes of Isaac Boss, Jimmy Gopperth, Mike McCarthy and South African international Zane Kirchner for the first time since his recent arrival.

There are three changes to the team that defeated Zebre 33 - 6 in last week's Heineken Cup encounter.

Danie Poolman, who was forced to withdraw late this week due to a tight hamstring, is replaced on the right wing by Tiernan O'Halloran. Mayo-man Gavin Duffy returns to full-back, replacing the injured James So'oialo.

Up front, Andrew Browne moves to the bench and makes way for last week's try scorer Mata Fifita at blindside flanker.

On the bench, hooker Dave Heffernan is in line to make his first senior appearance in the number 2 jersey. Utility back Daragh Leader is another addition to the match day squad. The 20-year-old from Galway made his first senior appearance away to Ospreys this time last year.

"Coming up against Leinster at the RDS - it doesn't get much bigger than that. The current Rabo champions, they've been consistently the best team in Europe for the last number of years," coach Pat Lam told the Connacht website.

"They are full of internationals; we know their players will be out to stake a claim ahead of the November series. We know what we're up against.

"But these are the type of games you relish and we can't wait for the challenge. We have trained well on the back of a good win in the Heineken Cup and of course we have a plan to execute in order to give us the best opportunity to beat this team."

Form: Leinster have won three of their last four matches in all competitions, and are unbeaten at the RDS since Ulster were the visitors in March. The Leinstermen were defeated in their only fixture so far with a fellow Irish province this season: 15-19 away to Munster in round 5. Connacht's five game losing run in all tournaments ended with their 33-6 victory against Zebre in Parma in the European Cup. Connacht's most recent away victory in the RaboDirect PRO12 was 32-24 at Edinburgh in April. Connacht have been defeated in their last six contests with fellow Irish provinces and have not beaten an Irish side on their own soil since winning 26-23 against Leinster at Donnybrook in September 2002.

Connacht's only victory in their last six fixtures with Leinster was 34-6 in Galway last September.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Luke Fitzgerald, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (capt), 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Jack O'Connell, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Zane Kirchner

Connacht:15 Gavin Duffy, 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Mata Fifita, 5 Craig Clarke, 4 Michael Swift (capt), 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Sean Henry, 1 Brett Wilkinson
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 JP Cooney, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Andrew Browne, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Darragh Leader, 23 Fionn Carr

Date: Saturday 26th October
Venue: RDS Arena
Kick-off: 18:45 (17:45 GMT)
Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Mark Patton, Barrie O'Connell (both IRFU)
TMO: Alan Rogan (IRFU)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs Toulon13:00
Scarlets vs Leicester19:45
Bath vs Toulouse15:15
Montpellier vs Glasgow17:15
Northampton vs Ospreys17:15
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale15:15
Castres vs Leinster13:00
Wasps vs Harlequins17:15
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 9217:15
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles19:45
Friday , October 24
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs London Irish18:30
Brive vs Zebre18:30
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle19:30
Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby19:45
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade Francais14:00
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs Connacht15:00
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Western Province 31 - 23 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 49 - 30 AucklandTaranaki vs Auckland Report
Manawatu 23 - 18 Southland
Tasman 26 - 6 CanterburyTasman vs Canterbury Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Bordeaux-Begles 13 - 15 EdinburghBordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh Report
Newcastle 43 - 19 Bucuresti
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615