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Leinster Rugby vs Cardiff Blues
Guinness Pro14, Conference B, Round 2
RDS Showground, Dublin
Friday, 8th September 2017, 19:35

Live on TG4

Leinster got their season off to the best possible start last week with a bonus point win away to the Dragons. It was a bit of a slow start from Leinster but while the Dragons dominated possession early on, they lacked the cutting edge to do much with it. In the second half Leinster's pack took over and from there it was a relatively straightforward win.

So after beating the worst team in Wales, Leinster now face the second worst in the perennially underachieving Cardiff Blues. There were some signs of progress from the Blues last season, they won half their league games and gave Leinster two very tricky battles in their meetings. A run of bad results around the New Year however put paid to their hopes of qualifying for the Champions Cup and they were well beaten by Gloucester in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup.

They had a poor start to this season when they lost at home to the similarly mediocre Edinburgh last week. Their coach Danny Wilson has reacted to that by making six changes to his starting lineup. Four of the changes come in the backline with Rhun Williams coming in at full-back and Garyn Smith coming into the centre. Tom James starts on the left wing and Steve Shingler has been given the nod at fly-half. There are two injury-forced changes in the pack with Kieron Assiratti replacing Taufa'ao Filise at tighthead prop and Macauley Cook starting on the blindside with Josh Turnbull switching to number eight in place of the concussed Nick Williams.

For Leinster Devin Toner will make this 200th appearance. The Meath man has grown from a somewhat gangley youngster into a rock steady, seasoned international. He's partnered again by Australian Scott Fardy and the RDS will look forward to their first sight of the impressive new signing. There is a change in the front row where James Tracy comes in at hooker. There are two further changes in the back row where Rhys Ruddock and Jack Conan come in for their first starts of the season. The return of Luke McGrath at scrum-half is the only change in the backline from last week.

Leinster would do well to watch last season's fixture at home to Cardiff again before the match. Cardiff may not look like much on paper but they can be a dangerous team on the break and they hit Leinster for three near identical long range tries, all originating from Leinster mistakes. Leinster's lax attitude didn't help that day either. Hopefully, with the right attitude from the start, Leinster can power their way to another win before hitting the road for South Africa next week.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Cardiff Blues
Teams Rob Kearney
15 Rhun Williams
Adam Byrne 14 Alex Cuthbert
Rory O'Loughlin
13 Garyn Smith
Isa Nacewa (C) 12 Reynold Lee-Lo
Jordan Larmour
11 Tom James
Ross Byrne
10 Steve Shingler
Luke McGrath 9 Lloyd Williams

Cian Healy 1 Rhys Gill
James Tracy
2 Matthew Rees
Michael Bent 3 Kieron Assiratti
Devin Toner 4 Seb Davies
Scott Fardy
5 Damian Welch
Rhys Ruddock 6 Macauley Cook
Josh van der Flier
7 Josh Navidi
Jack Conan 8 Josh Turnbull

Replacements Sean Cronin
16 Kirby Myhill
Ed Byrne
17 Corey Domachowski
Andrew Porter
18 Dillon Lewis
Mick Kearney
19 James Down
Dan Leavy 20
Sion Bennett
Nick McCarthy
21 Tomos Williams
Cathal Marsh
22 Jarrod Evans
Barry Daly
23 Matthew Morgan

Not Considered
due to Injury
Dave Kearney,
Peter Dooley,
Bryan Byrne,
Tom Daly,
Peadar Timmins,
Noel Reid,
Robbie Henshaw,
Johnny Sexton,
Tadhg Furlong,
Sean O'Brien,
Jamie Heaslip,
Garry Ringrose,
Jordi Murphy,
Fergus McFadden,
Joey Carbery,
Richardt Strauss,
James Ryan

Taufa'ao Filise,
Gethin Jenkins,
Anton Peikrishvili,
Kristian Dacey,
Ethan Lewis,
George Earle,
Ellis Jenkins,
Jim Botham,
Nick Williams,
Gareth Anscombe,
Blaine Scully,
Cam Lewis,
Owen Lane
Officials Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2017-09-08