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Benetton Treviso vs Leinster Rugby

Stadio di Monigo, Treviso
Saturday 18th September 2010, 19:05 (18:05 Irish Time)
Television: Live TG4 / Dahlia TV

This Saturday, Leinster travel to Italy to take on Benetton Treviso. This is the first time they'll meet Italian opposition in the Magners League after Treviso and Aironi joined this season. Both teams have already posted performances that suggest they won't be pushovers, especially at home. The main reason behind the Italians joining the league is to help them develop at international level by having a better standard of regular club rugby. It's also hopeful that having the Italians in will bring a new dimension and a broader audience to the league.

Leinster will travel in good spirits after earning their first win of the season against Cardiff last weekend. A bonus point win over Cardiff is always a great result but the performance was tough on nerves of the home supporters. In many ways it was a throwback to the old days of Leinster rugby, a helter-skelter match that went one way and then the other. Leinster got off to an incredible start with two fine tries in the first ten minutes. But another poor second half showing saw a 20-6 lead transformed to a 23-20 deficit with less than fifteen minutes remaining. To their great credit Leinster's young guns pulled it out of the bag with two late tries but you'd hope there won't have to be quite so much drama in every match this season.

Leinster have named a side with seven personnel changes and three positional switches from the Cardiff match. International stars Jamie Heaslip and Brian O'Driscoll drop out but three more internationals come in for their first appearances of the season, Rob Kearney, Gordon D'Arcy and Rhys Ruddock. Kearney starts at fullback, which means Luke Fitzgerald moves across to the left wing and Isa Nacewa switches to the right in place of the injured Shane Horgan. There's a brand new centre partnership in D'Arcy and Eoin O'Malley and Ian Madigan retains his place at out-half after filling in courageously for Jonny Sexton last week. Eoin Reddan makes his first start of the season in place of Isaac Boss.

In the pack Cian Healy also makes his first start of the season after making an energetic appearance from the bench last week. He starts at loosehead alongside hooker John Fogarty as the impressive South African pair of Heinke van der Merwe and Richardt Strauss are rotated to the bench. Mike Ross continues at tighthead and he will be hoping to build on his destructive scummaging performance last week. The second row of Nathan Hines and Ed O'Donoghue are unchanged for the third week running but the backrow is rotated again. Ruddock starts at blindside so Sean O'Brien moves to number eight, meaning he'll have started in the three different backrow positions in the first three matches. Shane Jennings has recovered sufficiently from the ankle injury he sustained last week to captain the team from openside.

They take on a Treviso side that have long been Italy's premier club. Though they've never qualified from their pool in Europe they have taken some notable scalps in their time, particularly at home. Wasps, Glasgow, Harlequins, Castres, Bourgoin and Perpignan are among the clubs they've beaten at the Stadio di Monigo. They didn't have to wait long for their first Magners League victory either as they beat the Scarlets 34-28 in their first outing. They were brought back down to earth somewhat last week when they lost away to the Ospreys but they'll still fancy themselves to cause another upset this weekend.

Their big summer signing, Joe Maddock from Bath, makes his first appearance for Treviso and he is a quality finisher. He makes up an impressive back three with Australian fullback Brendan Williams and Australian-born Italian international Luke McLean. Tommaso Benvenuti, who scored the winning try against the Scarlets, partners Italian international Alberto Sgarbi in the centre. South African Tobias Botes is a handy goal-kicking scrum-half and he partners Kristopher Burton, another Australian-born Italian international.

In the pack Leonardo Ghiraldini captains the team in the continued absence of Antonio Pavanello. Ghiraldini is a top class hooker who captained Italy in this years Six Nations and he makes up an all Italian international front row with Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet and Lorenzo Cittadini. South African veteran Corniel Van Zyl makes up an experienced second row with Italian international Valerio Bernabo. In the all Italian international backrow, openside flanker Alessandro Zanni is the star man and Robert Barbieri and Fijian-born Manoa Vosawai complete the unit. Overall it's a team with a tough front five, an excellent backrow and lots of pace in the back three. With a passionate home crowd behind them, Leinster will want to get a good start to quieten them down.

Leinster know how tough it will be but they'll still be confident that with the team they've named they will win the day. To do this however they're going to have to put together an eighty-minute performance, something they haven't done so far this season.

Team Lineups
  Benetton Treviso
  Leinster Rugby
Teams Brendan Williams 15 Robert Kearney
Joseph Maddock 14 Isa Nacewa
Tommaso Benvenuti 13 Eoin O'Malley
Alberto Sgarbi 12 Gordon D'Arcy
Luke McLean 11 Luke Fitzgerald
Kristopher Burton 10 Ian Madigan
Tobias Botes 9 Eion Reddan

Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet 1 Cian Healy
Leonardo Ghiraldini (C) 2 John Fogarty
Lorenzo Cittadini 3 Mike Ross
Valerio Bernabo 4 Nathan Hines
Corniel Van Zyl 5 Ed O'Donoghue
Robert Barbieri 6 Rhys Ruddock
Alessandro Zanni 7 Shane Jennings (C)
Manoa Vosawai 8 Sean O'Brien

Replacements Diego Vidal 16 Richardt Strauss
Franco Sbaraglini 17 Heinke van der Merwe
Pedro Di Santo 18 Simon Shawe
Enrico Pavanello 19 Mariano Galarza
Paul Derbyshire 20 Stephen Keogh
Ezio Galon 21 Isaac Boss
Fabio Semenzato 22 Fergus McFadden
Simon Picone 23 David Kearney
Not Considered
due to Injury

Stan Wright,
Leo Cullen,
Kevin McLaughlin,
Shaun Berne,
Devin Toner,
Shane Horgan,
Jonathan Sexton
Match Officials Referee: Peter Allan (SRU)
Assistant Referees: Stefano Marrama, Domenico Sironi (both FIR)
TMO: Carlo Damasco (FIR)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2010-09-20