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Leinster Rugby vs Cardiff Blues
Pro Rugby Round 7
RDS Arena, Dublin
Sunday, 22nd November 2020, 17:15

TV: Live on Eir Sports

The only good thing about Monday night rugby is that it gives you a new appreciation for Sunday rugby as in "well, at least it's not Monday".

The abandonment of the Friday night slot still grates though and you genuinely wonder about the mental acuity of the TV companies driving this change. Plenty of Pro rugby fans look forward to a game on TV on Friday evening as they relax into their weekend. Even if their team isn't playing, they can still watch one of their rival teams. Now Pro rugby fans are being driven towards the dour English Premiership and "matey bants" culture of BT Sports to satisfy our urge for live Friday evening rugby. Please don't make us go there Pro rugby, it is a desperate place! Hopefully the schedule will return to some sort of normality in the new year.

Anyway Sunday it is and Cardiff are the visitors to the RDS. Cardiff are having an typically inconsistent season having won half their games. They are always threatening to do something as they do have some decent players but it never quite materializes into anything solid. Australian coach John Mulvihill, formerly of Navan RFC, has named a team showing six changes from last Monday's win over Benetton.

International scrum-half Tomos Williams returns from injury to start alongside Jarrod Evans who skippers the team from out half. Academy player Ben Thomas makes his first start of the season at centre alongside Garyn Smith. Aled Summerhill comes in to start on the left wing and Matthew Morgan and Owen Lane complete the back three. Ethan Lewis and Dmitri Arhip come into the front row to join Corey Domachowski. Ben Murphy and Rory Thornton continue in the second row and Alun Lawrence makes his first senior start at openside. James Ratti and penalty machine Josh Turnbull are retained in the back row from last week.

For Leinster Michael Bent is named for the seventh game running at tighthead prop. Normally props get rotated a bit more but such is the injury curse on Leinster's tightheads this season that there's no rest for Benty. Ciaran Parker, who was signed as short-term injury cover, got injured against Edinburgh so now only the promising but callow Tom Clarkson is left. Bent is routinely scorned by opposition fans and the media but he's hugely appreciated by the Leinster squad and management. His form has been excellent this season, anchoring the scrum impressively and even throwing in a couple of tries for good measure. James Tracy and Peter Dooley complete the front row. Some Leinster fans might have wanted Dan Sheehan to get another start at hooker but Tracy's form has been good in fairness.

Leo Cullen has made three changes to the team that started last Monday and they all come in the back five of the pack. There's a new second row partnership in Ross Molony and Ryan Baird and Josh Murphy returns at blindside flanker, which means Dan Leavy moves across to openside. Rhys Ruddock captains the team again from number eight. The backline, which scored six of Leinster's eight tries on Monday, is unchanged. Rowan Osborne and Michael Silvester will make their first appearance of the season should they come off the bench.

It's hard to see anything other than another routine Leinster win.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Cardiff Blues
Teams Jimmy O'Brien 15 Matthew Morgan
Cian Kelleher 14 Owen Lane
Liam Turner 13 Garyn Smith
Ciaran Frawley
12 Ben Thomas
Dave Kearney 11 Aled Summerhill
Harry Byrne 10 Jarrod Evans (C)
Luke McGrath 9 Tomos Williams

Peter Dooley 1 Corey Domachowski
James Tracy 2 Ethan Lewis
Michael Bent 3 Dmitri Arhip
Ross Molony 4 Ben Murphy
Ryan Baird 5 Rory Thornton
Josh Murphy 6 James Ratti
Dan Leavy 7 Alun Lawrence
Rhys Ruddock (C)
8 Josh Turnbull

Replacements Dan Sheehan 16 Iestyn Harris
Michael Milne 17 Brad Thyer
Tom Clarkson 18 Keiron Assiratti
Devin Toner 19 Teddy Williams
Jack Dunne 20 Gwilym Bradley
Rowan Osborne 21 Jamie Hill
Michael Silvester 22 Max Llewellyn
Scott Penny 23 Hallam Amos

Not Considered
due to Injury
Vakh Abdaladze,
Conor O'Brien,
Adam Byrne,
Tadhg Furlong,
Max Deegan,
Jordan Larmour,
Garry Ringrose,
Jack Conan,
Sean Cronin,
Tommy O'Brien,
Rory O'Loughlin,
Johnny Sexton,
Robbie Henshaw,
Ciaran Parker,
Ed Byrne

Officials Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2020-11-21