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Benetton Treviso vs Leinster Rugby
Rabodirect Pro12 Round 8
Stadio Monigo, Treviso,
Sunday, 24th November 2013, 15:00 (14:00 Irish Time)

Television: Live: Mediaset (Italy), Delayed coverage on TG4, Starting 17:00

After a three-week break, Leinster return to action this week with a tough trip to Treviso. Of course the two o'clock Sunday kick-off means it will clash fully with Ireland's match against New Zealand in Dublin. Great planning from the organisers there! At least TG4 are showing the full match in delayed coverage afterwards so there will be something to distract Irish fans from the post-mortem on the latest shambolic performance from the national team.

Leinster moved up to fourth place after their win over the Dragons and Ulster's defeat away to the Scarlets in the last round. It was their fourth win in a row but in truth it was another putrid performance, full of basic errors and poor decision-making. As with the previous game against Connacht, Leinster rode their luck hard to win and eventually that luck will run out.

Leinster had to rely on a fair bit of luck too when they visited the Stade Monigo last season and only won due to a very late Jonny Sexton drop goal. Despite the disappointment of that result, Treviso went on to a pretty good season finishing in seventh place in the league and recording wins over Munster, Scarlets, Ospreys and Cardiff as well as a draw away to Ulster. This season they beat Munster again in round three; however since then they've been on a bad run with their only other victory coming at home to Connacht. This leaves them in tenth place in the table at the moment and they'll be targeting a weakened Leinster team this weekend to start moving up.

With Italy playing Argentina on Saturday, Treviso are also missing players like Robert Barbieri, Alessandro Zanni and Edoardo Gori but they've still be able to name a pretty useful team. Former Leinster player Mat Berquist is named at out-half. Berquist actually looked a useful player but his only season in Dublin was basically destroyed by an early season knee injury. Other familiar names are Australian full back, Brendan Williams (who seems to have been there since the dawn of time), Tongan-born Japanese international centre Christian Loamanu and Fijian-born Italian international Manoa Vosawai in the back row. As ever with an Italian team, they've a good scrum and they'll come after Leinster in that area.

For Leinster it's another case of scrambling together a side with so many players missing either to injury or international duty. After making a fine first start against the Dragons, it's pretty irritating not to have fullback Zane Kirchner available as he's currently only holding tackle-bags for the Springboks, not having played a minute of rugby since being called up to their tour.

Darren Hudson returns from injury to take his place at full back in one of four changes to the line-up that started against Dragons. The other change in the backline is the return of Brendan Macken at outside centre in place of Luke Fitzgerald. In the pack the front five is the same but in the back row Rhys Ruddock moves to blind-side to allow Leo Auva'a come in at number eight. Shane Jennings was released from the Ireland camp to captain the side.

It's a tough assignment and Treviso will be favourites but perhaps this Leinster side can pull something out of the fire.

Team Lineups

Benetton Treviso

Leinster Rugby
Teams Brendan Williams
15 Darren Hudson
Ludovico Nitoglia
14 Lote Tuqiri
Andrea Pratichetti
13 Brendan Macken
Christian Loamanu
12 Noel Reid
Angelo Esposito
11 Darragh Fanning
Mat Berquist
10 Jimmy Gopperth
Fabio Semenzato
9 John Cooney

Alberto De Marchi
1 Michael Bent
Franco Sbaraglini
2 Aaron Dundon
Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet
3 Martin Moore
Marco Fuser
4 Tom Denton
Corniel Van Zyl (C)
5 Quinn Roux
Manoa Vosawai
6 Rhys Ruddock
Dean Budd
7 Shane Jennings(C)
Marco Filippucci
8 Leo Auva'a

Replacements Enrico Ceccato
16 James Tracy
Matteo Muccignat
17 Jack O'Connell
Pedro Di Santo
18 Tadhg Furlong
Antonio Pavanello
19 Ben Marshall
Filippo Giusti
Dominic Ryan
Alberto Sgarbi
21 Luke McGrath
James Ambrosini
22 Cathal Marsh
Alberto Di Bernardo
23 Collie O'Shea

Not Considered
due to Injury

Edward Byrne,
Adam Byrne,
Andrew Goodman,
Leo Cullen,
Jordi Murphy,
Richardt Strauss
Officials Referee: Neil Paterson (SRU),
Assistant Referees: Elia Rizzo, Giorgio Sgardiolo (both FIR),
TMO: Mauro Dordolo (FIR)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2013-11-22