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Edinburgh Rugby vs Leinster Rugby
Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Friday, 17 April 2009, 19:45

Television: Live � Setanta Ireland

Leinster meet Edinburgh for the twelfth time in just three seasons on Friday night.  Twelve times in three seasons for God's sake!!!!  One thing both teams will be praying for is that they aren't drawn together in the Heineken Cup next season.  They must be sick of the sight of one another at this stage but if it's any consolation to the players, it's even worse for the poor souls who have to write match previews and try to think of fresh things to say about the merits of Edinburgh.

So here we go again........strong team......great fitness, will run all day...good home record......well coached......lots of good young players......disappointing in Europe but have done reasonably well in Magners.........watch out for Mike Blair......don't underestimate them....they've caught us out before....... good head to head record against us......atmosphere at Murrayfield is eerie ........ ex- Leinster man Ben Gissing (oh he's not playing? Ah..shame.)......Ali Hogg is an awkward customer.....don't play too open a game against them.......blah, blah, blah...

If a Leinster fan isn't aware of what Edinburgh are about at this stage after three years of over-exposure then they never will be.  Oddly enough, for once Edinburgh will go into the game as hot favourites, given Michael Cheika's understandable decision to rest twelve of the starters from last Sunday's magnificent win over Harlequins.  After two relentlessly brutal physical games in two weeks and with only a five-day turnaround between the two away fixtures it was always likely that the extended squad would be utilised.  It's notable that the three remaining players, Leo Cullen, Isa Nacewa and Gordon D'Arcy, have all had significant injury lay-offs this season.

Cullen captains the team again from the second row alongside Trevor Hogan.  There's a new front row in Ronnie McCormack, John Fogarty and Stephen Knoop who makes his first start of the season.  All in all, it's still a pretty experienced front five and there's more experience in Stephen Keogh and Cameron Jowitt in the back-row.  Young tyro Sean O'Brien completes the pack and will once again seek to rule the contact area.

Considering they've rested five starters, Leinster can still put out a very impressive backline with four internationals.  With Jonny Sexton still missing through suspension, Isa Nacewa fills in at ten and will partner Chris Keane who's back from a long injury lay-off.  Gordon D'Arcy, who clearly can't get enough rugby at the moment, stays in the twelve jersey and will renew the centre partnership with Fergus McFadden that worked so well in the matches played during the Six Nations matches.  It will be interesting to see if McFadden kicks or if Nacewa will be handed the job. 

The back three of Girvan Dempsey, Shane Horgan and Simon Keogh were all left kicking their heels on the bench last weekend so they'll be itching to show what they can do tomorrow.  Youngsters Paul O'Donohue and Ian McKinley are the reserve halves on the bench that includes Leinster cult hero Ollie Le Roux, who just can't bring himself to say goodbye.

Last Sunday was one of the great days of Leinster rugby.   Travelling over to a chorus of sneers from the usual dimwit media hacks, the players and fans were collectively written off.  The effort the players produced on the field and the relentless noise from the travelling support was amazing.  Many of the Harlequins fans, who were gracious to a fault after the match, said it was the best atmosphere they ever had for a match at the Stoop. 

Tomorrow's match atmosphere will be in stark contrast, with a mostly empty stadium.  However once again the Leinster team will be written off and will have nothing to lose.  They'll be up against it, but they know that an impressive performance could push them to be involved in a certain big match in two weeks time and hopefully that'll be enough to motivate them to a hard-fought win. 

Team Lineups

Edinburgh Rugby

Leinster Rugby
Teams Chris Paterson
15 Girvan Dempsey
John Houston
14 Shane Horgan
Ben Cairns
13 Fergus McFadden
Nick De Luca
12 Gordon D'Arcy
Simon Webster
11 Simon Keogh
Phil Godman
10 Isa Nacewa
Mike Blair (C)
9 Chris Keane

Kyle Traynor
1 Ronan McCormack
Ross Ford
2 John Fogarty
Geoff Cross
3 Stephen Knoop
Jim Hamilton
4 Leo Cullen (C)
Craig Hamilton
5 Trevor Hogan
Scott Newlands
6 Cameron Jowitt
Alan MacDonald
7 Sean O'Brien
Ali Hogg
8 Stephen Keogh

Replacements Andrew Kelly
16 Brian Blaney
Ryan Grant
17 Ollie Le Roux
Scott Macleod
18 Devin Toner
Matt Mustchin
19 Kevin McLaughlin
Greig Laidlaw
20 Paul O'Donohue
David Blair
21 Ian McKinley
Andrew Turnbull
22 Gary Brown
Not considered
due to injury
    CJ van der Linde
Officials Referee: Tim Hayes (WRU)
Assistant Referees: John Steel (SRU), Peter Carruthers (SRU)
TMO: Jim Yuilles (SRU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2009-04-16