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Benetton Rugby vs Leinster Rugby
Pro14 Round 7 Conference B
Stadio Monigo, Treviso
Saturday, 27th October 2018, 16:00 (15:00 Irish time)

TV: Live on Eir Sports

After the high of the Wasps match and the exaltation that followed, Leinster were brought back to earth with a bump last week in Toulouse.

Toulouse were just more up for the fight for the first twenty minutes and Leinster looked a little shell-shocked. They did recover well though to the point where they looked like a bonus point win for Leinster was the most likely outcome. But then Luke McGrath's pass was intercepted for a super team try and Leinster lacked composure when they looked to generate a final winning drive at the end.

However in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't the end of the world. France is still a tough place to go and win as Leinster know only too well from their recent record. They got a losing bonus point and denied Toulouse one and they'll seriously fancy their chances in the rematch at the RDS in January. And it will be no harm to have a bit of a kick in arse to let everyone know that the slightest bit of complacency can be lethal to performance levels, which dipped across the board.

Europe is parked now until the double header with Bath in December and it's back to Pro14 action with two away games first in Italy and then in South Africa. The first match is certainly the tougher prospect as they take on a Benetton side who have continued their fine form from last season. They're currently in third place in the Conference, just ahead of Edinburgh, with three wins from six games. They've been highly competitive in every game they've played and their coach Kieran Crowley has molded them into a tough-nosed outfit. Leinster certainly won't take them lightly as Benetton were the only team to beat them at the RDS last season.

Crowley has named a team that shows several changes from the side that lost by a point away to Agen in the Challenge Cup last week. Some of their top internationals like Tommaso Allan and Ian McKinley have been rested but he's still able to name a decent team with the hugely dangerous Monty Ioane on the wing.

For Leinster there are eleven changes to the team that started last week but it's still a strong lineup with twelve internationals in the starting line-up. In the back three Rob Kearney returns from injury to start at full back. After a strong Celtic Cup winning campaign with the A team Adam Byrne gets a chance to relaunch his first-team career with a start on the right wing. He should get plenty of action in the next while given the injuries to Fergus McFadden and Dave Kearney. Joe Tomane is moved to the left wing and only retains his place due to a lack of other options as he was particularly poor against Toulouse. Robbie Henshaw remains in the centre but Rory O'Loughlin comes in to partner him and Ross Byrne and Jamison Gibson-Park come in to start at half-back.

In the pack Jack McGrath and James Tracy come in to start alongside Tadhg Furlong while Scott Fardy starts in the second row alongside James Ryan. Sean O'Brien captains the team from blindside with the fit again Dan Leavy at openside and Max Deegan at number eight.

With four weeks of Ireland international fixtures coming up, this will be the strongest Leinster team we see until the first Bath game and it should be good enough to earn a win.

Team Lineups

Benetton Rugby

Leinster Rugby
Teams Jayden Hayward 15 Rob Kearney
Ratuva Tavuyara 14 Adam Byrne
Ignacio Brex 13 Rory O'Loughlin
Alberto Sgarbi (C) 12 Robbie Henshaw
Monty Ioane 11 Joe Tomane
Antonio Rizzi 10 Ross Byrne
Dewaldt Duvenage 9 Jamison Gibson-Park

Marco Barbini 1 Jack McGrath
Michele Lamaro 2 James Tracy
Giovanni Pettinelli 3 Tadhg Furlong
Federico Ruzza 4 Scott Fardy
Irne Herbst 5 James Ryan
Marco Riccioni 6 Sean O'Brien (C)
Hame Faiva 7 Dan Leavy
Derrick Appiah 8 Max Deegan

Replacements Tomas Baravalle 16 Bryan Byrne
Alberto De Marchi 17 Ed Byrne
Simone Ferrari 18 Andrew Porter
Alessandro Zanni 19 Ross Molony
Marco Lazzaroni 20
Rhys Ruddock
Tito Tebaldi 21 Hugh O'Sullivan
Tommaso Iannone 22 Noel Reid
Angelo Esposito 23 Conor O'Brien

Not Considered
due to Injury

Will Connors,
Barry Daly,
Fergus McFadden,
Dave Kearney,
Josh van der Flier
Officials Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU),
Assistant Referees: Craig Evans (WRU), Andrea Spadoni (FIR),
TMO: Alan Falzone (FIR)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2018-10-26