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Leinster Rugby vs Edinburgh Rugby
Royal Dublin Showgrounds
Friday, 8 December 2007, 20:00

Season Ticket: Heineken Cup 2
Television: Live - Sky Sports 1, Highlights RTE 2, 23:15

The Heineken Cup resumes tomorrow night as Leinster take on Edinburgh in the RDS.  Leinster go into this match on a high after last week's historic victory over Munster in Cork.  It was a special night for Leinster as the pack fronted up and beat Munster at their own game in a match played in horrendous conditions.  After the great performance against Leicester, the pack took a step back against Toulouse, but they've stepped up to the mark again.  This type of performance has to become the standard from which they don't waver.

This starts against Edinburgh tomorrow.  Mentally the pack need to approach the match as if they're taking on Leicester or Munster.  Once again Edinburgh have named a team without a lot of star names, especially in the pack.  On paper Leinster should win easily, but how many times have we said this before and gotten burnt?  Well in Europe alone, the answer is three times out of four meetings.

Former Leinster player Emmett Byrne played in some of those games and he has commented on how the lack of fear of the opposition undermined the "physical preparation" for the matches.  He also put Edinburgh's good record down to their style of play.  "They wouldn't have had the biggest pack, but they were extremely fit, very competitive in all facets of the game and they defended well.  They'd last the pace and be strong at the finish of matches."

Leinster need to learn from these previous failures.  To paraphrase a certain Corkman: "fail to take Edinburgh seriously and prepare to fail".  The pack need to play with the same aggression, the same urgency and intensity that they played with last week.  With the weather predicted to be wet and windy, running rugby could be difficult so Leinster may well need to attack through the pack to score the four tries they need for a vital bonus point.

There is only one change to the Leinster pack after last week's heroics.  Keith Gleeson's hugely impressive cameo gets him the nod over Shane Jennngs who drops to the bench.  Captain Brian O'Driscoll has been declared fit, but Girvan Dempsey has not been risked so the backline is unchanged.  Jonny Sexton did well when he came on last week and is rewarded by keeping his place on the bench ahead of Christian Warner.  He will be looking forward to his first taste of Heineken Cup rugby.  The other change on the bench sees prop Stephen Knoop return in place of Cian Healy.

Edinburgh approach the match in good form after winning their last two Magner's league matches against the Scarlets and Ulster.  New coach Andy Robinson seems to have brought some organisation and motivation to a team that Leinster beat handily on the first day of the season.

Edinburgh make only one change to the team that beat Ulster with John Houston coming in on the wing for Andy Maxwell.  Andrew Turnbull and full-back Ben Cairns, a try-scorer against Ulster, complete the back three while Nick De Luca and Matt Dey form the midfield.  They have an all-international half-back pairing of Phil Godman and captain Mike Blair.  Leinster coach Michael Chieka has already indentified Blair as a serious danger man.

In the pack they have an experienced front five.  Allan Jacobson and Gavin Kerr are both international props and hooker Ross Ford is quite lively.  Both locks Matt Mustchin and Ben Gissing have played their rugby in Ireland before and will know what to expect.  The backrow is also decent.  Ross Rennie is a typically awkward Scottish openside who's caused Leinster problems in the past and Roland Reid and David Callam are both strong ball carriers.

So, it's a reasonable Edinburgh side, but still one that Leinster should be able to beat well.  However Leinster will need to put all thoughts of any easy win out of their minds and come out firing. 

To this end, the fans have their part to play too.  We need to get in early and get the singing, chanting and the atmosphere going.  We need to recreate the atmosphere that was there for the Tigers match.  So forgo that extra sneaky pint, grab the flags and get in good and early.

Team Lineups
  Leinster Rugby   Edinburgh Rugby
Teams Robert Kearney 15 Ben Cairns
Shane Horgan 14 Andrew Turnbull
Brian O'Driscoll (C) 13 Nick De Luca
Gordon D'Arcy 12 Matt Dey
Luke Fitzgerald 11 John Houston
Felipe Contepomi 10 Phil Godman
Cillian Willis 9 Mike Blair (C)
Ollie Le Roux 1 Allan Jacobson
Bernard Jackman 2 Ross Ford
Stan Wright 3 Gavin Kerr
Leo Cullen 4 Matt Mustchin
Malcolm O'Kelly 5 Ben Gissing
Stephen Keogh 6 Roland Reid
Keith Gleeson 7 Ross Rennie
Jamie Heaslip 8 David Callam
Replacements Brian Blaney 16 Andrew Kelly
Stephen Knoop 17 Augusto Allori
Cameron Jowitt 18 Craig Hamilton
Shane jennings 19 Simon Cross
Chris Keane 20 Ben Meyer
Jonathan Sexton 21 David Blair
Gary Brown 22 Calum MacRae
Not Considered
due to Injury
Girvan Dempsey
Trevor Hogan
Ronnie McCormack
Fergus McFadden
Chris Whitaker
Officials Referee: Roman Poite (FFR)
Sub Referee: Cedric Marchat (FFR)
Touch Judge: Bernard Dal Maso (FFR)
4th Official: Ken Henley-Willis (ARLB)
5th Official: Brian Montayne (ARLB)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2007-12-06