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Benetton Treviso vs Leinster Rugby
Stadio di Monigo, Treviso,
Saturday, 15th September 2012, 19:05 (18:05 Irish Time)

Television: Live Sportitalia/TG4 (Live Streaming on www.tg4.tv only)

Leinster responded to their heavy opening day defeat by beating the Dragons by 20 points last week. However the performance was something of a mixed bag still, with some wonderful attacking moments balanced by more dreadfully soft defending. Joe Schmidt was happy to get a bonus point win but as he put it himself, conceding ten tries in two games is "not us". Things need to tighten up, especially with a tough trip to Italy tomorrow.

Treviso beat Leinster in the Stadio di Monigo two years ago and only lost by ten points last season despite conceding two tries in the opening five minutes. They're a tough team to beat at home and opened their campaign by beating reigning champions the Ospreys. Last week they lost 19-6 away to Munster but they'd rested several players and seem to definitely be targeting this fixture.

Treviso finished tenth in the table in both their seasons in the league to date. They seemed set to finish higher than that last season as they were going well up until Christmas. But for some reason their form dropped off very badly in the new year, winning only one game. They're looking to improve this year and need to make their home stadium the fortress it was in their first season. In that season in the league, they won eight of their eleven home games, but last season they won only three. On the plus side they did manage to get a few wins on the road, including a memorable win in Ulster, but their crumbling home form undermined all the good work on their travels.

Their coach Franco Smith has named a team showing several changes to the team that started against Munster with most of his first choice pack returning. In fact only Simone Favaro remains from last week's pack as top quality internationals like Robert Barbieri, Alessandro Zanni and Leonardo Ghiraldini all return. In the backs Tobias Botes is named at scrum-half which means Edoardo Gori moves to the wing. Another international, Tommaso Benvenuti is back at outside centre and Luke McLean is at full back.

With all Leinster's injuries worries, Schmidt will be delighted to be able to welcome back most of the international contingent, who either start or are on the bench. At the moment only Gordon D'Arcy and Rob Kearney are still being held back. Jonathan Sexton and Eoin Reddan return at half-back with Brian O'Driscoll and Fergus McFadden forming the centre partnership. Interestingly, Ian Madigan is given a game at full-back with Andrew Conway and Fionn Carr staying on the wings.

Mike Ross is back at tight-head prop and will partner Heinke van der Merwe and Richardt Strauss in the front row. Devin Toner will make his 100th appearance for Leinster in the second row and he partners Damian Browne. Shane Jennings is the only survivor from last week's pack and he links up in the back row with Kevin McLaughlin and Jamie Heaslip, who captains the team. Cian Healy is on a strong bench which includes Sean Cronin, Leo Cullen and Isa Nacewa.

Despite the return of the internationals, this remains a tough match and Leinster will have to work very hard to get something from it. It takes time to bed players back into the playing patterns so it might be a bit scrappy but hopefully Leinster can do enough to get a valuable away win.

Team Lineups

Benetton Treviso

Leinster Rugby
Teams Luke McLean 15 Ian Madigan
Edoardo Gori 14 Andrew Conway
Tommaso Benvenuti 13 Brian O'Driscoll
Alberto Sgarbi 12 Fergus McFadden
Ludovico Nitoglia 11 Fionn Carr
Alberto Di Bernardo 10 Jonathan Sexton
Tobias Botes 9 Eoin Reddan

Alberto De Marchi 1 Heinke van der Merwe
Leonardo Ghiraldini 2 Richardt Strauss
Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet 3 Mike Ross
Francesco Minto 4 Damian Browne
Corniel Van Zyl (C)
5 Devin Toner
Simone Favaro 6 Kevin McLaughlin
Alessandro Zanni 7 Shane Jennings
Robert Barbieri 8 Jamie Heaslip (C)

Replacements Franco Sbaraglini 16 Sean Cronin
Michele Rizzo 17 Cian Healy
Lorenzo Cittadini 18 Jamie Hagan
Valerio Bernabo 19 Leo Cullen
Dean Budd 20
Jordi Murphy
Marco Filippucci 21 John Cooney
Fabio Semenzato 22 Noel Reid
Kristopher Burton 23 Isa Nacewa

Not Considered
due to Injury

Luke Fitzgerald,
Sean O'Brien,
Eoin O'Malley,
Rhys Ruddock,
David Kearney,
Mark Flanagan,
Conor Gilsenan,
Isaac Boss,
Dominic Ryan,
Aaron Dundon,
David Doyle
Officials Referee: Ian Davies (WRU),
Assistant Referees: Carlo Damasco, Stefano Traversi (both FIR),
TMO: Stefano Marrama (FIR)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2012-09-14