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Leinster Rugby vs Leicester Tigers
Royal Dublin Showgrounds, Dublin
Saturday, 10 November 2007, 13:30

Season Ticket: Heineken Cup Ticket 1

Leinster and Leicester have a rich Heineken Cup history having met eight times in total. In the first five years of the competition they were drawn in the same pool a remarkable three times. Those six meetings were split three wins apiece, including two famous wins at Donnybrook in '97 & '99. Since then they have met twice in the quarter-finals but Leicester won handily both times. Leicester won 29-18 at Welford Road in 2002 but it's the 2005 defeat at home that will be freshest in Leinster fans minds. On this occasion Leinster were playing in front of a full house in Lansdowne Road. However Leinster never showed up and Leicester steamrollered over them in Declan Kidney's last game in charge. If anything, the 29-13 score flattered Leinster.

Since that day two and a half years ago Leicester have strengthened their squad extensively. Their recruitment reaped a considerable harvest last season when the won the league and cup double and came within a whisker of the treble, losing to Wasps in the Heineken Cup final. Leicester traditionally made their name on rather conservative ten-man rugby in the heyday of Dean Richards and Martin Johnson. But this side is able to win through either grinding a team down or ripping them apart with the power and pace of the outside backs.

Leicester have named a very strong team for tomorrow. Fijian World Cup star Seru Rabeni moves from midfield to the right wing to form an exciting back-three with Alesana Tuilagi and the wily Geordan Murphy. England internationals Dan Hipkiss and Ollie Smith form a dangerous midfield partnership. Andy Goode has recovered from a knock to take his place at out-half partnering Cork man Frank Murphy.

The pack is the same that started the last day against Cardiff in the EDF. Young number eight Jordan Crane keeps place after his impressive start to the season with captain Martin Corry at blindside and the abrasive Lewis Moody at open-side. Ben Kay and Louis Deacon offer a nice mix of youth and experience in the second row. With George Chuter still injured, Frenchman Benjamin Kayser continues at hooker where he'll be flanked by Julian White and Marcus Ayersa. It's a formidable front row and Italian international Martin Castrogiovanni is a hell of a weapon to have on the bench. Naas man Johnny Murphy is also on the bench after scoring two tries as a replacement last weekend.

The big news for Leinster is the seasonal debut of Felipe Contepomi after his heroics for Argentina in the World Cup. He replaces Christian Warner who drops to the bench. The only other change to the backline sees Rob Kearney getting the nod over Luke Fitzgerald on the left wing. In the pack an injury to Stephen Keogh means Keith Gleeson moving over to blindside and Shane Jennings taking the number seven jersey. Ignore the jerseys though as they'll alternative between the roles as it suits.

For Jennings and Leo Cullen, it's a massive game against the club where they spent the last two years. Both were hugely respected over there, to the point where they jointly lifted the Premiership trophy instead of captain Martin Corry. They'll be busting a gut to show their former teammates they made the right decision to return home.

There's no getting away from the fact that it's going to be a major ask for Leinster to win this match. Leicester have few fears about travelling to Ireland, especially after last season's famous win in Thomond Park. They're massively experienced and have a ruthless winning mentality.

For Leinster to win, they'll have to produce a massive performance, better than anything they've produced to date this season. The pack will need to go hell for leather and take the game to the Tigers eight. The rucks will need to cleared more efficiently and the ball delivered far quicker to the backs. And the backs need to stop crabbing and run straight hard lines.

From a fans point of view, we also need to up our work-rate and really make the RDS a cauldron of noise tomorrow. For various reasons the atmosphere hasn't been great since we've returned to the R.D.S. this season. One of the more painful memories of the quarter-final two years ago was how a couple of thousand Leicester fans made more noise than forty odd thousand Leinster fans. We can't allow that to happen again. Every Leinster fan should take it on themselves to create as much noise as possible, regardless of where they're sitting or if others join in. It's going to take a massive effort to win tomorrow and the lads will need everyone full square behind them.

Allez les Bleus!!!

Team Lineups
  Leinster Rugby   Leicester Tigers
Teams Girvan Dempsey 15 Geordan Murphy
Shane Horgan 14 Seru Rabeni
Brian O'Driscoll (C) 13 Ollie Smith
Gordon D'Arcy 12 Dan Hipkiss
Rob Kearney 11 Alesana Tuilagi
Felipe Contepomi 10 Andy Goode
Chris Whitaker 9 Frank Murphy
Ollie Le Roux 1 Marcus Ayersa
Bernard Jackman 2 Benjamin Kayser
Stan Wright 3 Julian White
Leo Cullen 4 Louis Deacon
Malcolm O'Kelly 5 Ben Kay
Keith Gleeson 6 Martin Corry (C)
Shane Jennings 7 Lewis Moody
Jamie Heaslip 8 Jordan Crane
Replacements Brian Blaney 16 Mefin Davies
Juan Francisco Gomez 17 Martin Castrogiovanni
Cameron Jowitt 18 James Hamilton
Kevin McLaughlin 19 Luke Abraham
Cillian Willis 20 Christoph Laussucq
Christian Warner 21 Paul Burke
Luke Fitzgerald 22 Johnny Murphy
Not Considered
due to Injury
Trevor Hogan
Chris Keane
Stephen Keogh
Stephen Knoop
Ronnie McCormack
Fergus McFadden
Officials Referee: Christophe Berdos (FR)
Sub Referee: Eric Gauzins (FR)
Touch Judge: Jean Marie Schutz (FR)
4th Official: Wayne Sheridan (ARLB)
5th Official: Tom Tuohy (ARLB)
TMO: Daniel Gillet

by Jim O'Connor, © 2007-11-12