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Ospreys vs Leinster Rugby
Guinness Pro14, Conference B, Round 18
Liberty Stadium, Swansea,
Saturday, 24th March 2018, 19:35

TV: Live on S4C only, no live Irish TV coverage

So Ireland are Grand Slam champions for the first time in nine years.

Leinster were the major suppliers to the winning squad with fourteen players in the final match day squad and another five who were named in match day squads for the other games. Of course it's great to see the lads making such a great contribution to the national team, but it's a double-edged sword in terms of Leinster's prospects for the rest of the season. Josh van der Flier and Robbie Henshaw are now probably out for the season and the likes of Johnny Sexton was fairly banged up by the end of the championship. Of course Leinster's main focus now will be the Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens next week on Easter Sunday. Let's hope history repeats itself as in 2009 and a Grand Slam for Ireland is followed by the European Cup for Leinster.

Before that though, they travel to take on an Ospreys team who have been having a truly awful season, which is strange for one of the traditional powerhouses in the league. With only six league wins to their name, they lie sixth in Conference B with only Zebre below them. They did give Europe a decent crack to be fair drawing with Saracens in one game and they had a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals before losing to Clermont in their last pool game. But their chances of qualifying for next season's Champions Cup are gone and with international half backs Dan Bigger and Rhys Webb leaving in the summer for England and France respectively, things aren't looking all too bright going into the future either.

Their long-serving coach Steve Tandy was sacked back in January after their exit from Europe. He was replaced by former Ulster forwards coach Allen Clarke and he names a team that includes their front line Welsh internationals Dan Biggar, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric.

For Leinster the good news is that Luke McGrath is back from injury to captain a side that shows seven changes to the team that drew against the Scarlets last time out. International squad members Joey Carbery and Fergus McFadden come into the backline while Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Andrew Porter and Jordi Murphy all return to the pack.

The draw in Scarlets wasn't the worst result as it kept Leinster top of the table but they will be disappointed to lose the win to a last gasp penalty. With the Scarlets playing away to Munster on Saturday this will present a great opportunity to extend that lead.

On their day though the Ospreys can still be a tough side and they generally play well against Leinster. But with a strong pack, Leinster should hopefully have too much for them.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Teams Dan Evans 15 Joey Carbery
Jeff Hassler 14 Fergus McFadden
Kieron Fonotia 13 Rory O'Loughlin
Ashley Beck 12 Noel Reid
Hanno Dirksen 11 Barry Daly
Dan Biggar 10 Ross Byrne
Tom Habberfield 9 Luke McGrath (C)

Nicky Smith 1 Jack McGrath
Scott Otten 2 Sean Cronin
Dmitri Arhip 3 Andrew Porter
Bradley Davies 4 Ross Molony
Alun Wyn Jones (C) 5 Scott Fardy
Olly Cracknell 6 Josh Murphy
Justin Tipuric 7 Jordi Murphy
Sam Cross 8 Jack Conan

Replacements Ifan Phillips 16 James Tracy
Rhodri Jones 17 Ed Byrne
Ma'afu Fia 18 Michael Bent
Adam Beard 19 Ian Nagle
Rob McCusker 20
Max Deegan
Matthew Aubrey 21 Jamison Gibson-Park
Sam Davies 22 Dave Kearney
Owen Watkin 23 Adam Byrne

Not Considered
due to Injury
Cory Allen,
Scott Baldwin,
Dan Baker,
Josh Cole,
Keelan Giles,
Hugh Gustafson,
Dafydd Howells,
Paul James,
Ben John,
Will Jones,
James King,
Dan Lydiate,
Brian Mujati,
Sam Parry,
Gareth Thomas,
Rory Thornton,
Rhys Webb

Tom Daly,
Josh van der Flier,
Robbie Henshaw,
Rhys Ruddock,
Caelan Doris,
Cathal Marsh,
Will Connors,
Sean O'Brien
Officials Referee: John Lacey (IRFU),
Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace (IRFU), Frank Murphy (IRFU),
TMO: Simon McDowell (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2018-03-23