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Leinster Rugby vs Connacht Rugby
Guinness Pro12 Round 7
RDS Showground, Ballsbridge,
Saturday, 29th October 2016, 17:15

Television: Live: Sky Sports

Leinster took to the field in red t-shirts as a tribute to Anthony Foley last Sunday in Montpellier. Yet in a way, they made another tribute to him with a display that reminded you of Munster in their heyday. Often when Foley led Munster, they would go to France and be thoroughly out-played and yet somehow they'd come home with a valuable bonus point. Leinster played poorly and made a tonne of errors, but they showed guts to keep plugging away to first deny Montpellier a bonus point and then to snatch one themselves with the last play of the game that left them at the top of the pool table. Leo Cullen won't be happy with the performance but he will love the character shown.

Leinster take on Champions Connacht this Saturday looking to get back to the top of the Pro12 table. They take on a team who've had a roller-coaster start to the season. They lost their first three games and it could well have been four had the rain not intervened when they trailed away to Zebre. Since then though, they're re-discovered their mojo with two fine wins over Edinburgh and Ulster before they beat Toulouse with a superb performance in the best match of the first round of Europe. Last week they returned to Zebre and beat them handily and this week they were boosted massively by the news that two of their key men, Bundee Aki and Ultan Dillane had signed new contracts.

Pat Lam has made three changes to the team that started last week. Tiernan O'Halloran returns from injury and will take his place at fullback. Cian Kelleher, who is their top try scorer since moving from Leinster in the summer, shifts to the left wing. In the pack, there are two changes with Dave Heffernan and Conor Carey coming into the front row.

Leo Cullen has made ten changes to the Leinster team. Isa Nacewa moves to full back while Adam Byrne makes his first start of the season on the right wing and Barry Daly makes his first Leinster start ever on the left wing. Rory O'Loughlin and Noel Reid come into the centre while Joey Carbery and Jamison Gibson-Park are the half-backs. In the pack Sean Cronin comes in as hooker and Ian Nagle starts in the second row while Dan Leavy and Jack Conan form a powerful back row with Sean O'Brien.

Connacht have never beaten Leinster in the RDS, the last time they won in Dublin was in Donnybrook in 2002. With the memory of last year's final in Edinburgh fresh in their minds though, they will fancy their chances this time out. Equally though, the memory of their that final should drive Leinster on to win at home tomorrow.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Connacht Rugby
Teams Isa Nacewa (C) 15 Tiernan O'Halloran
Adam Byrne 14 Niyi Adeolokun
Rory O'Loughlin 13 Peter Robb
Noel Reid 12 Craig Ronaldson
Barry Daly 11 Cian Kelleher
Joey Carbery 10 Jack Carty
Jamison Gibson-Park 9 Kieran Marmion

Cian Healy 1 JP Cooney
Sean Cronin 2 Dave Heffernan
Mike Ross 3 Conor Carey
Mick Kearney 4 Quinn Roux
Ian Nagle 5 Andrew Browne
Dan Leavy 6 Sean O'Brien
Sean O'Brien 7 Jake Heenan
Jack Conan 8 John Muldoon (C)

Replacements James Tracy 16 Shane Delahunt
Peter Dooley 17 Dominic Robertson-McCoy
Michael Bent 18 Finlay Bealham
Mike McCarthy 19 James Cannon
Josh van der Flier 20
Eoin McKeon
Luke McGrath 21 Caolin Blade
Ross Byrne 22 Bundee Aki
Rob Kearney 23 Stacey Ili

Not Considered
due to Injury
Edward Byrne,
Richardt Strauss,
Ian Fitzpatrick,
Billy Dardis,
Fergus McFadden,
Dave Kearney,
Cathal Marsh

Tom McCartney,
Denis Buckley,
Ronan Loughney,
Ivan Soroka,
Conan O'Donnell,
Saba Meunargia,
Ultan Dillane,
Ben Marshall,
Nepia Fox-Matamua,
Eoghan Masterson,
John Cooney,
Matt Healy,
Josh Rowland,
Darragh Leader,
Ciaran Gaffney
Officials Referee: John Lacey (IRFU, 57th competition game),
Assistant Referees: Andy Brace, Jonathan Peak (both IRFU),
Citing Commissioner: Tim Lowry (IRFU),
TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2016-10-28

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