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Leinster Rugby vs Dragons
Pro 14 Conference B Round 3
RDS Showground, Dublin,
Saturday, 15th September 2018, 17:15

TV: Live on Eir Sports, TG4

If you'd offered Leinster six points from their opening two games of the season, both of which were tricky road trips to Wales, they probably would have taken it. However having been highly fortunate to snag a win over Cardiff, they were a touch unlucky not to win last week against the Scarlets. They looked in firm control at half-time but they got a little sloppy after that and let the Scarlets back into it. Even then they had a chance to snatch it at the end with a penalty or a drop goal but they made a less than wise choice to run the ball into the wide channels where it was turned over and lost. As expected the Scarlets were delighted with themselves for getting the win and the rivalry between the two sides is getting nice and spicy.

Leinster will put that in the memory bank and concentrate on their next two fixtures which are both in the home comforts of the RDS. They take on the Dragons tomorrow evening and welcome back former player of the year Bernard Jackman. Jackman has been getting some abuse off the Dragons fans recently, especially after they lost to Benetton at home in the first match of the season. Jackman spoke well about his plans for the team last season in terms of building for the future however they still only managed to win two games in the league which was even worse than previous seasons.

The Welsh Rugby Union, who own the team, have backed them with some big name signings in Welsh international forwards Ross Moriarty, Richard Hibbard and Ryan Bevington. A couple of promising ex-Scarlets in Jordan and Rhodri Williams were also brought in from Bristol. All five players are in the squad for tomorrow and Jackman has made three changes from the team that beat the Kings last week. Back row Nic Cudd comes in at openside flanker for his first start of the season while prop Lloyd Fairbrother comes into the front row. Centre Adam Warren takes the place of the injured Tyler Morgan in midfield.

For Leinster there are eleven changes as more internationals are brought back into the fold. Johnny Sexton is named in the side for this first time since he took the captaincy over from Isa Nacewa. He partners Jamison Gibson-Park who retains his place at scrum-half. Garry Ringrose is back from injury to partner Robbie Henshaw at centre and Jordan Larmour moves to the wing to accommodate the return of the Kearney brothers to the back three. In the pack Josh van der Flier is finally fit to give Leinster a genuine openside at seven for the first time this season. Max Deegan gets his first start of the season at blindside flanker and Jack Conan retains the number eight jersey. James Ryan makes his first appearance of the season in the second row where he partners the returning Scott Fardy. Sean Cronin retains his place at hooker but has two new props either side of him in Ed Byrne and Andrew Porter. On the bench the promising scrum-half Hugh O'Sullivan will make his first Leinster appearance if called upon.

Jackman would love nothing better than to beat his old team at the RDS but Leo Cullen won't be in the mood to do him any favours. Leinster should win comfortably enough even allowing for some rustiness from certain players.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Teams Rob Kearney 15 Jordan Williams
Jordan Larmour 14 Dafydd Howells
Garry Ringrose 13 Adam Warren
Robbie Henshaw 12 Jack Dixon
Dave Kearney 11 Hallam Amos
Johnny Sexton (C)
10 Josh Lewis
Jamison Gibson-Park 9 Rhodri Williams

Ed Byrne 1 Brok Harris
Sean Cronin 2 Elliot Dee
Andrew Porter 3 Lloyd Fairbrother
Scott Fardy 4 Matthew Screech
James Ryan 5 Cory Hill (C)
Max Deegan 6 Aaron Wainwright
Josh van der Flier 7 Nic Cudd
Jack Conan
8 Ross Moriarty

Replacements Bryan Byrne 16 Richard Hibbard
Peter Dooley 17 Ryan Bevington
Tadhg Furlong 18 Leon Brown
Ross Molony 19 Brandon Nansen
Caelan Doris 20
Ollie Griffiths
Hugh O'Sullivan 21 Tavis Knoyle
Noel Reid 22 Arwel Robson
Joe Tomane 23 Jarryd Sage

Not Considered
due to Injury
Sean O'Brien,
Ciaran Frawley,
Will Connors,
Dan Leavy,
Barry Daly,
Nick McCarthy,
Jack McGrath,
Tom Daly

Officials Referee: Quinton Immelman (SARU),
Assistant referees: Joy Neville (IRFU), Mark Patton (IRFU),
TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2018-09-21