Leinster will be hoping get back to winning ways in the Magners League and crown a special night for Reggie Corrigan – the veteran prop is making a record 136th appearance for the province this evening – when they visit the Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, April 13
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS (9th) v LEINSTER (1st), Rodney Parade, 7.10pm (live Setanta Sports Ireland/BBC Wales)
Team News: Irish international Reggie Corrigan will become the most capped Leinster player of all time when he lines up to face the Dragons. The Wicklow man has been named in a front row alongside Brian Blaney and Will Green.
In the only other change to the pack, Bank of Scotland (Ireland) Leinster Player of the Month Stephen Keogh returns to the back row. Guy Easterby will partner Felipe Contepomi at half-back with Kieran Lewis starting at outside centre alongside Gordon D’Arcy.
The Dragons are without regular skipper Kevin Morgan who has been ruled out with a knee injury. Wales Under-20 cap Martyn Thomas takes over at full-back. However, the Welsh region have been boosted by prop Rhys Thomas’ return to fitness – he is included on the replacements bench for the first time since suffering a chest injury against Northampton last October.
Michael Owen takes over the captain’s armband and features in a changed back row from the one that started against Edinburgh with Owen moving back to number 8, Colin Charvis switching to blindside flanker and Jamie Ringer coming back in at openside flanker.
The other changes to the pack from last weekend see Lee Harrison start at tighthead prop and Ian Gough back at lock in place of Peter Sidoli. The other change comes at centre with American international Paul Emerick having recovered from his knee injury that forced him to withdraw just before the game in Murrayfield.
Dragons: Martyn Thomas; Gareth Wyatt, Paul Emerick, Nathan Brew, Aled Brew; Ceri Sweeney, Gareth Cooper; Adam Black, Steve Jones, Lee Harrison, Ian Gough, Luke Charteris, Colin Charvis, Jamie Ringer, Michael Owen (capt).
Replacements: Ben Daly, Rhys Thomas, Peter Sidoli, Joe Bearman, Richard Fussell, Aled Thomas, Alex Walker.
Leinster: Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Kieran Lewis, Gordon D’Arcy, Denis Hickie; Felipe Contepomi (capt), Guy Easterby; Reggie Corrigan, Brian Blaney, Will Green, Trevor Hogan, Malcolm O’Kelly, Stephen Keogh, Keith Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Stan Wright, Harry Vermaas, Owen Finegan, Kevin McLaughlin, Chris Whitaker, Luke Fitzgerald, Rob Kearney.
Referee: Malcolm Changleng (Scotland)
Touch Judges: Phil Fear, Howard Hopkins (both Wales)
Team League Statistics: Dragons: Top Points Scorer – Ceri Sweeney 122 (2 tries, 11 conversions, 28 penalty goals and 2 drop goals); Top Try Scorer – Aled Brew 5
Leinster: Top Points Scorer – Felipe Contepomi 147 (2 tries, 28 conversions and 27 penalty goals); Top Try Scorers – Jamie Heaslip, Denis Hickie 6 each
Previous League Meetings:
February 2004 – Newport Gwent Dragons 35 Leinster 14, Rodney Parade
May 2004 – Leinster 56 Newport Gwent Dragons 39, Lansdowne Road
October 2004 – Newport Gwent Dragons 34 Leinster 13, Rodney Parade
January 2005 – Leinster 55 Newport Gwent Dragons 3, Lansdowne Road
September 2005 – Leinster 33 Newport Gwent Dragons 14, Donnybrook
February 2006 – Newport Gwent Dragons 31 Leinster 18, Rodney Parade
November 2006 – Leinster 35 Newport Gwent Dragons 13, Donnybrook
– The Newport Gwent Dragons have slipped to successive defeats in the Magners League at the Scarlets and at Edinburgh, however at Rodney Parade, the Welsh side are formidable with a run of ten straight wins in all competitions
– Leinster continue to top the Magners League despite their 26-20 defeat at the hands of Glasgow last Friday. Michael Cheika’s men have not suffered back-to-back league losses since February-March 2005
– All seven previous meetings between the two teams have been won by the home side on the day
– Leinster’s only previous win at Rodney Parade was a 26-21 victory over Newport RFC in the Heineken Cup on November 2, 2001