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Leinster Rugby vs Edinburgh Rugby
RaboDirect Pro12 Round 22
RDS Showground, Dublin
Saturday, 10th May 2014, 18:30

Television: Live - TG4

Well at least after last week's games, things are a lot simpler. Leinster need just two points to be sure of finishing top of the table ahead of Glasgow, so a draw will do them tomorrow. After losing to Leinster last week Ulster will definitely finish fourth, no matter what happens in their match against Munster. Munster for their part will be looking to win and for Glasgow to somehow drop points at home to Zebre. However more than likely we shall be looking at semi-finals of Leinster v Ulster and Glasgow v Munster next weekend.

It's been another fairly miserable season for Edinburgh, who won't compete in the top tier of European competition next term. They actually didn't have such a bad final Heineken Cup campaign and did manage to beat Munster at home. But their league form has been dire and morale seems to be at a serious low judging by the way they capitulated at home to Munster last week, losing 55-12 after leading early in the game. There has been some criticism in the media at the amount of foreign players being signed by coach Alan Solomons, especially as most of them don't seem to be much better than the Scottish players who are leaving in droves.

The line-up named by Solomons won't inspire a great deal of confidence. It is perhaps indicative of how seriously they're taking the game that their excellent fullback Jack Cuthbert has been allowed to join the Scotland sevens squad in London. This means Carl Bezuidenhout moves from out-half to full back alongside Sam Beard who replaces the injured Tom Brown. Harry Leonard comes in for Bezuidenhout at ten and he'll partner skipper Greig Laidlaw. It is both the half-back's final game for Edinburgh as they are both joining English clubs next season. The only other change from last week is the selection of Ben Toolis in the second row, which allows David Denton to return to his more accustomed role of number eight in place of Cornell Du Preez.

For Leinster the big news is the return of flanker Sean O'Brien after shoulder surgery. It had been thought O'Brien was out for the rest of the season but he's been back training recently and his return is a huge boost to Leinster ahead of the play-offs. His selection is one of eight changes to the team which started last week. He's named at blindside in the back row alongside Jamie Heaslip with Jordi Muphy replacing Shane Jennings at openside. There are four changes to the front five as Jack McGrath, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross and Leo Cullen all come in to start, with Cullen taking over the captaincy from Heaslip.

There's more good news on the injury front with Fergus McFadden fit enough to start his first match since the Toulon game. He is named on the right wing which means Zane Kirchner moves to full back, with Rob Kearney given something of a rest, only being named on the bench. The final change to the side sees Jimmy Gopperth replace Ian Madigan at out-half.

Having learned their lessons from previous farewells that were botched by defeats in knock-out games, Leinster will hold an on-pitch official goodbye to Brian O'Driscoll and Leo Cullen after the game. At leinsterfans.com we'll wait until their final goodbye before paying tribute to these two legends of the province.

Leinster were delighted to win away to Ulster last week, but even Matt O'Connor admitted the performance was poor. They know they will need to perform a lot better to win the competition and hopefully the return of O'Brien will get them back on the right track starting tomorrow evening.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Edinburgh Rugby
Teams Zane Kirchner 15 Carl Bezuidenhout
Fergus McFadden 14 Sam Beard
Brian O'Driscoll 13 Matt Scott
Gordon D'Arcy 12 Andries Strauss
Dave Kearney 11 Tim Visser
Jimmy Gopperth 10 Harry Leonard
Isaac Boss 9 Greig Laidlaw (C)

Jack McGrath 1 Alasdair Dickinson
Richardt Strauss 2 Ross Ford
Mike Ross 3 Willem Nel
Leo Cullen (C)
4 Grant Gilchrist
Mike McCarthy 5 Ben Toolis
Sean O'Brien6 Mike Coman
Jordi Murphy 7 Tomas Leonardi
Jamie Heaslip 8 David Denton

Replacements Sean Cronin 16 James Hilterbrand
Cian Healy 17 Wicus Blaauw
Martin Moore
18 Simon Berghan
Rhys Ruddock 19 Alex Toolis
Dominic Ryan 20
Dimitri Basilaia
Luke McGrath 21 Grayson Hart
Ian Madigan 22 Piers Francis
Rob Kearney 23 Ben Atiga

Not Considered
due to Injury
Andrew Goodman,
Eoin Reddan,
Darragh Fanning,
Luke Fitzgerald

Tom Brown
Officials Referee: Leighton Hodges (WRU),
Assistant Referees: Peter Fitzgibbon, Kieran Barry (both IRFU),
Citing Commissioner: Peter Ferguson (IRFU),
TMO: Seamus Flannery (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2014-05-09

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