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Leinster Rugby vs Edinburgh Rugby
RDS Showground
Sunday, 25 January 2009, 13:00

Television: Live Sky Sports 2 - Highlights RTE 2 20:00
Season Ticket: Heineken Cup 3 - Picture of Denis Hickie

It's now or never!

By the time Leinster kick off against Edinburgh at one o'clock on Sunday afternoon, they should know what they have to do. Depending on how the weekend's results have gone it could be that a win on it's own will be enough for qualification. However, no matter what happens, Leinster know that a bonus point win will leave them top of the group no matter what Wasps do.

Leinster have of course got exactly that against Edinburgh twice this season already and with Edinburgh having named a weakened team, surely it will be no problem to do it again? If only it were that easy. Yes, Edinburgh will only be playing for pride but we saw last week with Glasgow, Ulster and Llanelli that pride can still be a considerable motivation certainly amongst British and Irish teams. Edinburgh coach Andy Robinson wasn't happy with what he saw as the spoiling tactics used by Leinster in the win in Murrayfield and he certainly won't want to do them any favours.

But no matter what threat Edinburgh pose, the most important thing is for Leinster to rediscover some form, especially in the backline. They've shown some grit and determination to earn a win against Cardiff and a vital bonus point last week. However, even the most biased Leinster fan can't contend that they're playing well. All the players need to step up their performance cause a failure to qualify for the quarter-finals two years in a row would be an absolute disaster for Leinster given the massive investment in the team.

Andy Robinson has made six changes to the team that started last week. At full-back Chris Paterson replaces the injured Hugo Southwell. Simon Webster and Andrew Turnbull continue on the wings and John Houston replaces the rested Ben Cairns in the centre where he's partner Nick De Luca who has recovered from a head injury to start. Scottish captain Mike Blair is rested again so young Greig Laidlaw gets another start at scrum-half where he'll partner Blair's brother David who comes in for the injured Phil Godman.

The other three changes are all in the front row where Kyle Traynor, Andrew Kelly and Geoff Cross replace Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford and Gavin Kerr respectively. The back five of the pack is the same one which started last week. Ali Hogg captains the team from number eight and Simon Cross is always a nuisance at the breakdown. It's not as strong as team as they could have named but Leinster's history is littered with defeats to Edinburgh teams they considered "inferior" so they still must be vigilant.

Leinster have made three enforced changes, all in the pack. Cian Healy replaces the injured CJ van der Linde, and Ollie Le Roux once again takes his place on the bench. Trevor Hogan and Devin Toner replace the injured Leo Cullen and the suspended Malcolm O'Kelly respectively. Stan Wright is named on the starting team but there has to be a doubt over his ability to last the full match.

Despite not scoring a try in the last two matches, coach Michael Cheika has opted to leave the backline unchanged. The continued selection of Isa Nacewa at ten will be a considerable talking point among Leinster fans before the match.  Cheika seems to be convinced that he will deliver for him, but he's running out of time to do it.

It's going to be a hugely tense occasion but hopefully the crowd will get fully the lads and they can get the job done.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Edinburgh Rugby
Teams Rob Kearney
15 Chris Paterson
Shane Horgan
14 Andrew Turnbull
Brian O'Driscoll
13 John Houston
Felipe Contepomi
12 Nick de Luca
Luke Fitzgerald
11 Simon Webster
Isa Nacewa
10 David Blair
Chris Whitaker (C)
9 Greig Laidlaw

Cian Healy
1 Kyle Traynor
Bernard Jackman
2 Andrew Kelly
Stan Wright
3 Geoff Cross
Trevor Hogan
4 Craig Hamilton
Devin Toner
5 Ben Gissing
Rocky Elsom
6 Scott Newlands
Shane Jennings
7 Scott Cross
Jamie Heaslip
8 Allister Hogg (C)

Replacements John Fogarty
16 Steve Lawrie
Ollie le Roux
17 Gavin Kerr
Stephen Keogh
18 Jim Hamilton
Sean O'Brien
19 Alan MacDonald
Chris Keane
20 Ben Meyer
Gordon D'Arcy
21 Jim Thompson
Girvan Dempsey
22 Roland Reid

Not considered
due to injury

Leo Cullen (shoulder)
Stephen Knoop (neck)
CJ van der Linde (foot)

Officials Referee: Chris White (RFU)
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank (RFU), Stuart Terheege (RFU)
4th Official: Peter Dennehy (ARLB)
5th Oficial: Barry O'Keeffe (ARLB)
TMO: Geoff Warren

by Jim O'Connor, © 2009-01-23