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Leinster Rugby vs Dragons
Guinness Pro14, Round 9
RDS Showground, Dublin,
Friday, 24th November 2017, 19:35

TV: Live on TG4

Leinster are back after a three week break. Their last game saw them defeated away to Glasgow. On paper it looks a tough task to win away to Glasgow, but Leinster actually started the game really well. They were left to rue a disastrous ten minute spell in the first half though when weak defending allowed Glasgow to run in three tries. Leinster had the advantage up front and they dominated possession in the second half but a lack of leadership and some desperate decision making meant they went home with nothing. The defeat meant they dropped back behind Ulster into third place in Conference B.

They take on Bernard Jackman's Dragons team tomorrow evening. It's been a predictably tough start as Dragons coach for Birch as he's only won two from eight in the league with his young team. They did get a notable win over Connacht though and they're coming into this game off a back of a win over the Scarlets in the Anglo-Welsh cup.

Jackman has made eight changes to last weekend's line-up. The back three sees the return of wing Ashton Hewitt as he joins Jared Rosser and fullback Angus O'Brien. The centre partnership also has a change as Jack Dixon links up with Adam Warren, whilst the half-backs see the return of Gavin Henson and South African scrum-half Sarel Pretorius.

The front row will see 20-year-old hooker Ellis Shipp make his first start, whilst prop Sam Hobbs returns from injury to also make his first start of the 2017/18 season alongside tighthead prop Lloyd Fairbrother. The second row is unchanged with Joe Davies and Matthew Screech and the back-row sees youngster Aaron Wainwright join skipper Ollie Griffiths and number eight James Benjamin.

Leinster have made four changes to the side that lined out against Glasgow. There's no Garry Ringrose and Leinster fans will need to wait another week before they see new signing James Lowe, but skipper Isa Nacewa is fit to return to the left wing. Fergus McFadden and Noel Reid are also fit again and are named in the three-quarter-line in the other changes to the backline. There is just the one personnel change in the pack as Scott Fardy moves back to the second row and Josh Murphy comes in to make his first Leinster start at blindside.

Leinster may well show signs of rust after the break but they still should be able to win comfortably.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Teams Jordan Larmour 15 Angus O'Brien
Fergus McFadden 14 Jared Rosser
Rory O'Loughlin
13 Adam Warren
Noel Reid 12 Jack Dixon
Isa Nacewa (C)
11 Ashton Hewitt
Ross Byrne 10 Gavin Henson
Jamison Gibson-Park 9 Sarel Pretorius

Ed Byrne 1 Sam Hobbs
Sean Cronin 2 Ellis Shipp
Michael Bent 3 Lloyd Fairbrother
Ross Molony 4 Joe Davies
Scott Fardy
5 Matthew Screech
Josh Murphy 6 Aaron Wainwright
Jordi Murphy 7 Ollie Griffiths (C)
Max Deegan 8 James Benjamin

Replacements Richardt Strauss 16 Gerard Ellis
Peter Dooley 17 Luke Garrett
Andrew Porter
18 Brok Harris
Ian Nagle 19 Rynard Landman
Jack Conan 20
Ben Roach
Nick McCarthy 21 Dan Babos
Cathal Marsh 22 Arwel Robson
Conor O'Brien 23 Connor Edwards

Not Considered
due to Injury
Tom Daly,
Jamie Heaslip,
Garry Ringrose,
Ian Nagle,
Barry Daly,
Josh van der Flier,
Mick Kearney,
Joey Carbery

Officials Referee: Sam Grove-White (SRU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2017-11-23