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Edinburgh Rugby vs Leinster Rugby
Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
Saturday 26th September 2009, 18:30
Television: Live Setanta Ireland

Leinster return to Murrayfield this Saturday, the scene of their greatest ever day last May. It was of course ironic that they finally achieved their first Heineken Cup triumph in the stadium where they've suffered so much disappointment down the years. Leinster's Magners League record in Murrayfield is pretty dismal with only one win in eight efforts, and that was against a depleted team (the SRFU were resting internationals for a Scotland - Barbarians match......yeah I know, but that's the SRFU for you!) What's more, they're facing an Edinburgh team in fine form, with nine consecutive Magners League wins in a row (including last season).

That excellent end of season run meant they pipped Leinster for second place in the final table. Of course it also meant that their coach Andy Robinson moved on to bigger things with the Scotland job. However, so far Rob Moffat has taken over and kept things running nicely. He was helped by the fact that Robinson left him a talented and (mostly) young squad. He's added a useful signing in Dutch winger Tim Visser from Newcastle who's already scored a couple of tries. After beating Cardiff away from home on their first outing, Edinburgh annihilated Connacht at home. Last week, they beat Ulster in Ravenhill, a fine result even if the performance wasn't quite as good as previous weeks. Ulster dominated early on and took a healthy lead but Edinburgh kicked their points, unlike the profligate Ulster, and nicked a valuable away win.

Edinburgh make three changes to the team that started last week. Their captain Mike Blair returns after an extended break following the Lions tour. Blair has been a major danger man against Leinster in the past so he'll need careful watching. He partners Phil Godman, who kicked the winning field goal last week. Nick De Luca comes into the centre alongside Ben Cairns. Tim Visser is on the left wing with the in-form Mark Roberston on the other.

Chris Paterson, who's yet to miss a kick at goal this season, starts at full-back. In the pack the only change is the return of blindside flanker Alan MacDonald, which means Scott Newlands drops to the bench. There is plenty of quality in the pack including internationals Ali Hogg, Scott MacLeod, Geoff Cross and hooker Ross Ford who was Scotland's only test Lion in the summer.

For Leinster the big news is the return of their own Lions, Luke Fitzgerald, Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip. Brian O'Driscoll's slight neck injury means he has to wait until next week for his first taste of action this season. Heaslip takes his number eight jersey back from Sean O'Brien who moves to open-side with Shane Jennings bracketed on the bench with Academy player Dominic Ryan. The only other change in the pack sees the return of captain Leo Cullen in the second row in place of Malcolm O'Kelly.

In the backline there are multiple changes and only Eoin Reddan and Shane Horgan retain the same jerseys from last week. Reddan partners Shaun Berne who makes his first start at out-half in place of Jonny Sexton who drops to the bench. Gordon D'Arcy moves back to his most accustomed position of inside centre alongside Fergus McFadden who comes back into the team after an impressive showing off the bench last week. Fitzgerald and Kearney start in the back three in place of Rob's brother Dave and Isa Nacewa.

Last week Leinster played a territorial kicking game which largely negated the Ospreys dangerous back three. Jonny Sexton kicked his goals and the defence was excellent. The set-piece also went well, particularly the scrum, which had the Ospreys in all sorts of trouble. It will be interesting to see if Leinster use the same tactics again, particularly as Edinburgh have traditionally caused them problems with their high-speed, multi-phase gameplan. With Munster and London Irish coming in the next two weeks Leinster have to blow away the early season cobwebs and get serious. If they can do that then a win is attainable.

Team Lineups

Edinburgh Rugby

Leinster Rugby
Teams Chris Paterson
15 Rob Kearney
Mark Robertson
14 Shane Horgan
Ben Cairns
13 Fergus McFadden
Nick De Luca
12 Gordon D'Arcy
Tim Visser
11 Luke Fitzgerald
Phil Godman
10 Shaun Berne
Mike Blair (C)
9 Eoin Reddan

Kyle Traynor
1 Cian Healy
Ross Ford
2 John Fogarty
Geoff Cross
3 Stan Wright
Craig Hamilton
4 Leo Cullen (C)
Scott MacLeod
5 Nathan Hines
Alan MacDonald
6 Kevin McLaughlin
Roddy Grant
7 Sean O'Brien
Allister Hogg
8 Jamie Heaslip

Replacements Andrew Kelly
16 Bernard Jackman
Allan Jacobsen
17 Mike Ross
Ryan Grant / Davie Young
18 Devin Toner
Steve Turnbull
19 Shane Jennings
Scott Newlands
20 Simon Keogh
Greig Laidlaw 21 Jonathan Sexton
John Houston 22 Girvan Dempsey

Not Considered
due to Injury

Eoin O'Malley,
CJ van der Linde,
Trevor Hogan
Officials Referee: Tim Hayes (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Graham Knox (SRU), Bob Nevins (SRU), TMO: Jim Yuille (SRU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2009-09-25