Planet Rugby

Preview: Leinster v Northampton Saints

11th December 2013 09:30

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Luke Fitzgerald of Leinster v Saints

Leading try scorer: Luke Fitzgerald

Leinster coach Matt O'Connor has selected an unchanged line-up from the one that started last weekend's win at Franklin's Gardens.

Jamie Heaslip leads an all-Ireland team for the return visit of Northampton.

Mike McCarthy continues his second row partnership with Devin Toner and the Moynalvey man is set to make his 31st Heineken Cup appearance.

The second half try scored by Brian O'Driscoll, who picked up the man of the match award in Round 3, took him to 33 on the all-time European top try-scorers list and is now just two behind Toulouse's Vincent Clerc.

O'Driscoll continues his centre partnership with Gordon D'Arcy, with Luke Fitzgerald (whose hat-trick of tries last weekend pushed him to the top of this year's competition tally) continuing in the back three alongside Dundalk duo Dave and Rob Kearney.

Eoin Reddan partners Ian Madigan, who makes his 90th Leinster appearance, at half back.

Leo Cullen, Shane Jennings and Zane Kirchner are named on an experienced looking bench.

Meanwhile, the Northampton Saints team that heads to Leinster this weekend shows three changes from that which started last Saturday.

Saints will play at the Aviva Stadium for the first time on Saturday evening, with Salesi Ma'afu, Christian Day and Calum Clark all returning to the starting XV for the clash with the three-time Heineken Cup champions.

Ma'afu has recovered from the foot injury which kept him out of last weekend's game, while Day and Clark come in for Sam Dickinson and Phil Dowson, who drop to the bench.

They will be joined by Kahn Fotuali'i, who comes into the match day squad in place of Ryan Glynn.

The 40-7 hammering Northampton received last weekend was their joint-biggest defeat in the competition - equalling their 33-point loss against Montferrand in 2001.

The Aviva Premiership finalists have to win to have any hope of qualification from Pool 1.

Leinster however have won 15 of their last 16 home games in the Heineken Cup, with Clermont upsetting the trend in Dublin last season.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Michael Bent, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Leo Cullen, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 John Cooney, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Zane Kirchner.

Northampton Saints: 15 Ken Pisi, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 Dom Waldouck, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Diickson, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Dylan Hartley (capt), 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Phil Dowson, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 Glenn Dickson, 23 Tom Collins.

Date: Saturday 14th December
Venue: Aviva Stadium
Kick-off: 18:00 (local & GMT)
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant referees: Sebastien Cloute, Thomas Charabas (both France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

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