Both Connacht and Leinster have named their starting line-ups for Friday’s Magners League derby tie at the Sportsground.
…Leinster number eight Jamie Heaslip celebrates scoring a try during the sides’ last meeting at the Sportsground…
Connacht could move ten points clear of Leinster in the Magners League table if they defeat their provincial rivals on Friday.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, September 29
CONNACHT v LEINSTER, The Sportsground, 6.30pm
**IrishRugby.ie will be running a live match tracker from the Sportsground**
Team News: Connacht coach Michael Bradley has made one change to the side that drew with Edinburgh last week for the meeting with Leinster.
The experienced Darren Yapp comes in at outside centre, replacing the injured John Hearty.
Meanwhile, the Leinster selection sees Brian O’Driscoll return as captain for his first competititve start of the season alongside his Ireland colleagues Shane Horgan, who he partners at centre, and Girvan Dempsey.
Luke Fitzgerald, 19, has retained his place on the wing, while both Gordon D’Arcy and Malcolm O’Kelly have been named on a strong-looking bench, which also includes ex-Connacht duo Ronan McCormack and Bernard Jackman.
Connacht: Daniel Riordan; Matt Mostyn, Darren Yapp, Gavin Williams, Keith Matthews; Mark McHugh, Chris Keane; Brett Wilkinson, John Fogarty (capt), Brett Sturgess, David Gannon, Andrew Farley, John Muldoon, Matt Lacey, Colm Rigney.
Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Ray Hogan, Michael Swift, Ray Ofisa, Tom Tierney, Paul Warwick, Conor McPhillips.
Leinster: Girvan Dempsey; Luke Fitzgerald, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Shane Horgan, Denis Hickie; Felipe Contepomi, Chris Whitaker; Reggie Corrigan, Harry Vermaas, Will Green, Trevor Hogan, Owen Finegan, Stephen Keogh, Keith Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Ronan McCormack, Bernard Jackman, Malcolm O’Kelly, Niall Ronan, Guy Easterby, Christian Warner, Gordon D’Arcy.
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Touch Judges: George Clancy, Leo Colgan (both Ireland)
Coach Speak: Michael Cheika (Leinster) – “Everyone (the internationals) seems to be coming back at the right time. Gordon’s come back from a fitness point of view as has Malcolm O’Kelly, so its starting to be a bit of jam in there, but it’s a jam I like to have.
“They’re dying to come back. They’ve been on the edge of coming back. We had a session yesterday and I had to keep it under control because they were trying to tear in so hard that you’ve got to keep a bit of a rope on it – so that’s a good sign itself.”
PREVIOUS LEAGUE MEETINGS:
September 2002 – Leinster 23 Connacht 26, Donnybrook
October 2003 – Leinster 21 Connacht 6, Donnybrook
March 2004 – Connacht 35 Leinster 24, The Sportsground
November 2004 – Leinster 18 Connacht 9, Donnybrook
March 2005 – Connacht 21 Leinster 26, The Sportsground
December 2005 – Connacht 9 Leinster 21, The Sportsground
March 2006 – Leinster 16 Connacht 13, Donnybrook
– Mark McHugh salvaged a 22-all draw for Connacht last Friday against Edinburgh at the Sportsground. This game is Connacht’s seventh home game in their last eight matches and they are due to play two more games in Galway before this current home run ends
– Leinster’s previous six league games have gone: won, lost, won, lost, won, lost. But away from home, they have won just once in their last four road trips – last May’s 31-8 defeat of Edinburgh
– Leinster have won their last four matches against their fellow provinces in the league
– Leinster have also won their last four games against Connacht, with the westerners’ most recent victory in the fixture coming back in March 2004 at the Sportsground
– Leinster’s Felipe Contepomi has scored in each of the last five games between the provincial rivals, including all of Leinster’s points in the 16-13 win at Donnybrook last May. The Argentinian has tallied up 56 points in five appearances against Connacht
– Since that 35-24 victory over Leinster in March 2004, when back rows Matt Lacey (2) and John O’Sullivan, lock Andrew Farley and centre Darren Yapp all ran in tries, Connacht have struggled to cross the whitewash against the men from the east.
They have only scored three tries in their last four fixtures with Leinster – Lacey (2) and now departed centre Andrew Mailei shared those touch downs out