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Leinster Rugby vs London Wasps
Royal Dublin Showground
Saturday, 18th October 2008, 17:30

Television: Live Sky Sports 2 - Highlights RTE 2 11.15
Season Ticket: Heineken Cup 1 - Picture of Reggie Corrigan

Last week's match was all about winning (you might just have picked that up from the preview) and win Leinster did! In fact they essentially won the match and even had a bonus point secured before half-time. Shane Horan's try, which secured the bonus point, was scored in an eerie silence. The home fans were stunned into unheard levels of quietness (even by their standards) by their sides' apparent conversion to some sort of rugby Buddhism that required strictly no form of tackling on another player. The away fans were similarly stunned, wondering if this was some sort of wonderful dream that was soon to be punctured by the ringing of a travel alarm clock. This surely wasn't Murrayfield! Murrayfield was the place of frustration, bitterness and despair for Leinster folk. Not a place where back-rows run free like they're playing a sevens match and the backline turn back the years with length of the field tries.

Of course the normal 'fear and loathing' resumed in the second half as Leinster nervously defended their lead. There was several moments that made the travelling supporter's sweat, not least Bernard Jackman's audition to be Leinster's latest full-back, but they hung on comfortably enough in the end. So part one was done, they finally broke the Edinburgh curse. However, all their good work will be undone if they don't follow it up by beating Wasps at home tomorrow as rule number one in the Heineken Cup group stages is you've got to win your home games if you want to qualify.

Wasps arrive on the back of a much needed win against Castres, after their early season struggles in the Guinness Premiership. Much has been made of the loss of iconic skipper Lawrence Dallaglio and his Lieutenant Fraser Waters. However the team that starts tomorrow still contains 14 internationals. Their only non-international, Riki Flutey, was arguably their best player last season. He forms an impressive midfield partnership with Josh Lewsey who is playing in the centre as cover for the injured Dominic Waldouck. Lewsey is a tough customer as young Danny Cipriani found out recently in training when he decided to give Lewsey some lip and ended up with a cut one! Cirpriani is only back from a long-term injury and has yet to reach the heights of his pre-injury form. However even a 50% Cipriani is dangerous and he forms one of the paciest half-back pairings around with Ireland's Eoin Reddan.

The wingers Paul Sackey and Tom Voyce are both big, quick, proven finishers and there's another Irishman at full-back in Jeremy Staunton. Staunton has had something of a nomadic existence since leaving Munster with spells at Harlequins, Wasps and London Irish before returning to Wasps midway through last season. Some Leinster fans might see him as a weak link at full-back, but it's worth remembering that some of his best Munster performances came in that position.

There's a very familiar look to the Wasps pack, a mixture of hardened veterans and home ground youngsters. Simon Shaw, Phil Vickery and captain Raphael Ibanez have all had career revivals since joining Wasps and England internationals Tim Payne and Tom Palmer complete an excellent front five. In the backrow James Haskell and Tom Rees provide serious pace and skill and while Joe Worsley isn't as flashy, he's a defensive giant for them who lives to make bone-crushing tackles. They have some real experience on the bench too in Serge Betsen, Mark Robinson and Mark Van Gisbergen.

So all in all, it's a pretty tough task for Leinster. Predictably, the only change in the Leinster side is the return of Malcolm O'Kelly in place of Devin Toner who drops to the bench, despite playing very well in Edinburgh. O'Kelly gets the nod for his experience in going up against the massive Shaw.

Despite the win last week, Leinster know full well that they'll need to improve massively on their performance if they are to beat Wasps. The lineout will have to be a lot better as will the tactical kicking and subsequent chasing. Most of this Leinster team were playing two seasons ago in the Heineken Cup semi-final when Wasps physically bullied them off the park. You get the sense from Wasps that they feel they can come to the RDS and do the exact same thing again.

The pain of that defeat should be enough to motivate Leinster to earn a hard-fought win and a commanding lead in pool 2.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
London Wasps
Teams Girvan Dempsey 15 Jeremy Staunton
Shane Horgan
14 Paul Sackey
Luke Fitzgerald
13 Josh Lewsey
Brian O'Driscoll 12 Riki Flutey
Robert Kearney
11 Tom Voyce
Felipe Contepomi
10 Danny Cipriani
Chris Whitaker
9 Eoin Reddan

Stan Wright
1 Tim Payne
Bernard Jackman 2 Raphael Ibanez (C)
CJ van der Linde
3 Phil Vickery
Leo Cullen (C)
4 Simon Shaw
Malcolm O'Kelly
5 Tom Palmer
Rocky Elsom
6 James Haskell
Shane Jennings
7 Tom Rees
Jamie Heaslip 8 Joe Worsley

Replacements John Fogarty
16 Rob Webber
Cian Healy
17 Pat Barnard
Devin Toner
18 Richard Birkitt
Stephen Keogh
19 Serge Betsen
Chris Keane
20 Mark Robinson
Jonathan Sexton
21 Mark Van Gisbergen
Gary Brown
22 John Hart

Not considered
due to injury
Gordon D'Arcy (arm)
Isa Nacewa (arm)
Sean O'Brien


Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Neill Ballard (WRU), John Mason (WRU)
4th Official: John Carvill (ARLB)
5th Official: Barry O'Keeffe (ARLB)
TMO: Derek Bevan (WRU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2011-08-23