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Benetton Treviso vs Leinster Rugby
Guinness Pro12 Round 6
Stadio Monigo, Treviso,
Sunday, 1st November 2015, 16:00 (15:00 Irish Time)

Television: Live - RAI, Sky Sports 3

When this match is played the World Cup will be over and what a wonderful tournament it's been, in many peoples book, the best ever. It hasn't been too bad a tournament for Leo Cullen either. When he saw his under-strength team badly beaten away to Edinburgh in his first match in charge, he probably would have taken three wins from the first six games. Last week's scrappy but gutsy win over Glasgow meant he's already achieved that target. A win on Sunday should get Leinster into the top four for the first time this season, with four of the teams ahead of them playing each other, Ulster v Munster and Connacht v Edinburgh.

With Ireland's World Cup dream over, the players obviously want to put it behind them and get back on the field. So Cullen has been able to name a surprisingly strong line-up with only five players from the 16 originally named in the World Cup squad not involved. The big news is the return of Johnny Sexton at number 10. After his injury problems in England, it was thought he wouldn't return until the Scarlets match next week, but Sexton was obviously itching to get back playing in blue.

Sexton's return is one of nine changes to the side that started last week. Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Tadhg Furlong form an all-new front row while new Kiwi signing Hayden Triggs makes his debut in the second row alongside Mike McCarthy. Jordi Murphy makes his first start of the season in the backrow alongside Rhys Ruddock and Jack Conan. In the backs Eoin Reddan comes in at scrum-half to resume his partnership with Sexton while Luke Fitzgerald is named at inside centre alongside Ben Te'o. Dave Kearney comes into the back three alongside Fergus McFadden and Isa Nacewa, who's been named Leinster club captain for the season, with Sexton and Jamie Heaslip as vice-captains. Richardt Strauss, Cian Healy and Devin Toner should all make their seasonal debuts off the bench.

They take on a Treviso side without a win since February. They lost their last six games of last season and have lost their first five this term. At least this season, they have been reasonably competitive as they've earned losing bonus points in four of the games. They've made five changes to the team that played the Dragons last week. In the backs Andrea Pratichetti and Sam Christie come into the centre, while Italian international Eduardo Gori takes over at scrum-half. In the pack Samoan Teofilo Paulo takes over from the injured Tom Palmer in the second row and skipper Alessandro Zanni takes over from Dean Budd at openside.

Cullen will warn his side off any complacency as Leinster draw 24-all in the Stadio Monigo last season. However Leinster should be strong enough to earn their first away win of the season.

Team Lineups

Benetton Treviso

Leinster Rugby
Teams Jayden Hayward15 Isa Nacewa (C)
Ludovico Nitoglia14 Fergus McFadden
Andrea Pratichetti13 Ben Te'o
Sam Christie12 Luke Fitzgerald
Simone Ragusi11 Dave Kearney
Luke McLean10 Johnny Sexton
Edoardo Gori9 Eoin Reddan

Matthew Zanusso1 Jack McGrath
Davide Giazzon2 Sean Cronin
Rupert Harden3 Tadhg Furlong
Marco Fuser4 Hayden Triggs
Teofilo Paulo5 Mike McCarthy
Francesco Minto6 Rhys Ruddock
Alessandro Zanni (C)7 Jordi Murphy
Abraham Steyn8 Jack Conan

Replacements Luke Bigi16 Richardt Strauss
Alberto De Marchi17 Cian Healy
Simone Ferrari18 Marty Moore
Jeff Montauriol19 Devin Toner
Robert Barbieri20
Josh van der Flier
Chris Smylie21 Luke McGrath
James Ambrosini22 Cathal Marsh
Tommaso Iannone23 Noel Reid

Not Considered
Due to Injury
Dean Budd,
Alberto Sgarbi,
Angelo Esposito,
Luca Morisi,
Tom Palmer
Salesi Manu

Edward Byrne,
Mick Kearney
Officials Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU, 5th competition game),
Assistant Referees: Giuseppe Vivarini, Gregorio Piran (both FIR),
Citing Commissioner: Francesco Grillo (FIR),
TMO: Stefano Roscini (FIR)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2015-10-30