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Leinster Rugby vs Cardiff Blues
Guinness Pro12 Round 4
RDS Showground,
Friday, 26th September 2014, 19:35

Television: Live - TG4

Leinster suffered another one of those annoying defeats in Galway last week. After a pretty handy win over the Scarlets, they actually started the game extremely well and looked set to steamroller Connacht through the pack. However the early momentum was lost through a series of mistakes from the half-backs and Connacht showed immense guts to hang on in there.

In the second half though, Leinster were just straight-out poor and Connacht earned their win through a moment of magic from Kieran Marmion backed up with some excellent defence. So they sit in third place in the table with three wins from three, while Leinster are down in seventh place, not a position they are accustomed to. They're just two points ahead of their opponents tomorrow evening, the Cardiff Blues.

The Blues, of course, have largely been a shambles for years on and off the pitch. It finally caught up with them this season as they have to compete outside the top tier European competition for the first time. This seemed to alarm them enough to do some decent recruitment over the summer and Welsh internationals Craig Mitchell, Tavis Knoyle, Josh Turnbull and Adam Jones were brought in, along with Chiefs goal-kicker Gareth Anscombe, who will arrive in October.

So far, it hasn't resulted in any great change on the pitch though. After a handy week one run-out against Zebre, they've since gone down to two heavy defeats at home to Glasgow and Ulster. Trying to do something to arrest that decline, Director of rugby Mark Hammett has named a team showing seven changes to the team that lost to Ulster last week.

Wales international prop Gethin Jenkins will make his first league appearance of the season alongside his fellow Lions prop Adam Jones, and hooker Kristian Dacey who comes in to make his 50th appearance for the club. Chris Dicomidis  makes his first start of the season in the second row alongside Jarrad Hoeata. Sam Warburton, the first official "dual contract" player in Wales, returns to the back row at openside which means skipper Josh Navidi moves to number eight with Josh Turnbull on the blindside.

In the backs, there are new centres in Cory Allen and Dafydd Hewitt while winger George Watkins comes in to start on the wing. There are some notable names on the bench including hooker Matthew Rees, back row Manoa Vosawai and scrum half Tavis Knoyle.

For Leinster the injuries just keep coming with Shane Jennings the latest to be added to the list amid disturbing rumours over Cian Healy and Sean O'Brien. Matt O'Connor has made four changes to his starting line-up. The big news for Leinster is the first appearance of Australian second row Kane Douglas. He comes in for Mike McCarthy in the second row to partner Devin Toner. In the front row, props Michael Bent and Martin Moore both make their first appearance of the season. They are named either side of hooker Sean Cronin who makes his fourth consecutive start. The back row of Rhys Ruddock, Dominic Ryan and Jamie Heaslip remains the same from the last day.

The same applies to the half-backs Eoin Reddan and Jimmy Gopperth, who need to put on a better show this week. The only change to the backline sees Gordon D'Arcy named at outside centre instead of Brendan Macken. He partners Ian Madigan and it will be interesting to see what positions both take up in defence and attack. The back three of Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden and Darragh Fanning are retained.

Leinster are well used to Cardiff teams coming to the RDS and going through the motions. Indeed some of their biggest wins over the last few years have come against the Blues. On Cardiff's last five visits to Dublin, they have conceded 34, 59, 34, 52 and 34 points to Leinster.

Who knows, maybe this time Cardiff will surprise us and actually make some sort of game out of it?

I wouldn't put too much money on it though.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Cardiff Blues
Teams Rob Kearney 15 Rhys Patchell
Fergus McFadden 14 Alex Cuthbert
Gordon D'Arcy 13 Cory Allen
Ian Madigan 12 Dafydd Hewitt
Darragh Fanning 11 George Watkins
Jimmy Gopperth 10 Gareth Davies
Eoin Reddan 9 Lewis Jones

Michael Bent 1 Gethin Jenkins
Sean Cronin 2 Kristian Dacey
Marty Moore 3 Adam Jones
Devin Toner
4 Jarrad Hoeata
Kane Douglas 5 Chris Dicomidis
Rhys Ruddock6 Josh Turnbull
Dominic Ryan 7 Sam Warburton
Jamie Heaslip (C)
8 Josh Navidi (C)

Replacements Bryan Byrne 16 Matthew Rees
Ed Byrne
17 Sam Hobbs
Tadhg Furlong 18 Taufa'ao Filise
Mike McCarthy 19 Macauley Cook
Jack Conan
Manoa Vosawai
Luke McGrath 21 Tavis Knoyle
Steve Crosbie 22 Adam Thomas
Mick McGrath 23 Dan Fish

Not Considered
due to Injury
Luke Fitzgerald,
Aaron Dundon,
Jordi Murphy,
Richardt Strauss,
Dave Kearney,
Dan Leavy,
Noel Reid,
Zane Kirchner,
Shane Jennings,
Sean O'Brien,
Cian Healy

Filo Paulo,
Gavin Evans
Officials Referee: Ian Davies (WRU, 19th competition game),
Assistant Referees: Mark Patton, Will O'Connor (both IRFU),
Citing Commissioner: Denis Templeton (IRFU),
TMO: John Carvill (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2014-09-25