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Edinburgh Rugby vs Leinster Rugby
Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
Saturday, 11 October 2008, 13:35

Television: Live - Sky Sports 2, Highlights RTE 2 at 11.05.

Message from leinsterfans.com to the Leinster players:

In Murrayfield this Saturday.........

CHOOSE WINNING!

Choose forgetting about bonus points and take the win, any kind of win, 3-0 will do just fine!  Choose not playing into Edinburgh's hands by playing a loose, open game from the start.  Choose keeping it tight and wearing them down, taking your points and grinding out the win.  Choose giving Edinburgh the proper respect and not thinking you just have to turn up to win.  Choose not trying to win the game in the first twenty minutes and then panicking and starting to force things when this doesn't happen.  Choose forgetting about the 52-6 win in the RDS a month ago, as they had loads of injuries and in any case you know they're a completely different team in Murrayfield.  Choose ignoring the spooky non-atmosphere in a ground that's only about 10% full.  Choose forgetting about the 'hometown' referee and getting on with it whether he's an arrogant French dweeb or a bewildered Welsh incompetent.  Choose hitting every single ruck like your lives depend on it to secure our ball at the breakdown; that means everyone, not just the forwards!  Choose smashing them back in the tackle and counter-rucking like demons.  Choose keeping your discipline and not gifting Chris Paterson any easy kicks at goal.  Choose ignoring the media spin about "redemption and revenge" and putting in a hard-nosed, professional performance!

CHOOSE WINNING!

When the Heineken Groups were announced, the biggest groan from Leinster fans was not for two time winners Wasps or for doughty French outfit Castres.  No, it was for our old friends Edinburgh, or more accurately the thought of another Heineken Cup trip to Murrayfield.  Leinster have played there three times in the Heineken Cup and have lost every single time.  Of course, they've arrived every time as clear favourites to win but on each occasion complacency let them down.

The one good thing about losing the last two games to Munster and Connacht is that complacency will be the last thing on their minds.  Leinster's season largely depends on winning the next three matches before the month long break for the Autumn Internationals.  The Glasgow match on the 24th is a vital chance to get back into the Magners League race, but the next two matches are even more important.  They've got to beat Edinburgh in Murrayfield this weekend and Wasps at home the following week.  Any other results and Leinster will be in for a long hard season.  These wins are simply non-negotiable!

Edinburgh also come into the game on the back of some poor form.  Injuries have undoubtedly contributed to this but coach Andy Robinson will still be very disappointed with lying second-last in the table with only one win from five, especially with all the optimism that was there at the start of the season.  Their biggest defeat was the 52-6 reversal at the hands of Leinster at the RDS a month ago.  Robinson apparently watched the last twenty minutes of that match in what was a described as a "quiet, blind fury" and no doubt he'll spend a lot of time this week reminding his players about it to get a reaction from them.

Robinson has had some relief from his injury crisis though and is able to welcome back Chris Paterson, Simon Webster and Alan MacDonald.  MacDonald's return to take his place at openside flanker is crucial as it brings some much-needed balance to the back row.  It allows Ali Hogg to return to the number eight position and Scott Newlands to play at six instead of Matt Mustchin who returns to his more regular position in the second row.  Mustchin's partners Jim Hamilton, which means former Leinster player Ben Gissing drops to the bench.  In the front row Geoff Cross and Ross Ford replace Gavin Kerr and Andrew Kelly and the experienced Allan Jacobsen completes the pack.

Webster and Paterson's return to the back three sees Jim Thompson and John Houston drop out.  It's a testament to young Mark Robertson's form that he retains his place on the wing ahead of the more experienced Houston.  Though better known as a full-back, Hugo Southwell continues at outside centre in the absence of Ben Cairns and Matt Dey.  He partners Nick De Luca who had two big games against Leinster last season and will be hoping to recapture that sort of form.  Phil Godman replaces David Blair at our-half and partners captain Mike Blair.

Leinster make five changes to the team that started against Connacht.  Jonny Sexton is dropped to the bench and Felipe Contepomi moves to number ten where he'll partner Chris Whitaker who replaces Chris Keane.  Luke Fitzgerald stays in the centre where he'll partner Brian O'Driscoll for the first time.  Girvan Dempsey's return to full-back means Rob Kearney moves to the left wing in place of Simon Keogh.

In the pack Shane Jennings and Jamie Heaslip return in place of Stephen Keogh and the injured Sean O'Brien.  With Malcolm O'Kelly out injured, Devin Toner retains his place in the second row and Bernard Jackman resumes hooking duties.

After being 'nilled' at home to Munster and then losing away to Connacht, Leinster's Heineken Cup ambitions have been openly slated in the media.  So this week's game is not just a test of their ambitions or their ability, it's a test of the team's character.  The team has to show that it has both the bottle and the smarts to win these high-pressure games.  Big names like O'Driscoll, Jackman, Contepomi, Cullen, Heaslip and Jennings need to produce big-name performances.  The leaders in the team have to stand up and be counted.  They simply HAVE to win in Edinburgh.

Nothing less will do!

Team Lineups
  Edinburgh Rugby
  Leinster Rugby
Teams Chris Paterson
15 Girvan Dempsey
Mark Robertson
14 Shane Horgan
Hugo Southwell 13 Luke Fitzgerald
Nick De Luca
12 Brian O'Driscoll
Simon Webster
11 Robert Kearney
Phil Godman
10 Felipe Contepomi
Mike Blair (C)
9 Chris Whitaker
 
Allan Jacobson
1 Stan Wright
Ross Ford
2 Bernard Jackman
Geoff Cross
3 CJ van der Linde
Jim Hamilton
4 Leo Cullen (C)
Matt Mustchin
5 Devin Toner
Scott Newlands
6 Rocky Elsom
Alun MacDonald
7 Shane Jennings
Ali Hogg
8 Jamie Heaslip
 
Replacements Andrew Kelly
16 John Fogarty
Gavin Kerr
17 Cian Healy
Ben Gissing
18 Trevor Hogan
Craig Hamilton
19 Stephen Keogh
Greig Laidlaw
20 Chris Keane
David Blair
21 Jonathan Sexton
John Houston
22 Gary Brown
 
Not Considered
due to Injury

  Gordon D'Arcy
Isa Nacewa
Malcolm O'Kelly
Sean O'Brien

by Jim O'Connor, © 2008-10-16

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