After last week’s confidence-building win at Munster, Leinster are hoping to return to winning ways in the Heineken Cup tonight as familiar foes Edinburgh pay their second visit of the season to the RDS.
HEINEKEN CUP: POOL 6: Friday, December 7
LEINSTER v EDINBURGH, RDS, 8pm (live Sky Sports 1)
Team News: Team captain Brian O’Driscoll has been passed fit to lead Leinster in tonight’s Heineken Cup Pool 6 showdown with Edinburgh at the RDS.
O’Driscoll has recovered from the ankle injury he picked up in last week’s Magners League victory over Munster.
Leinster coach Michael Cheika has made one change to the side that secured that 10-3 win at Musgrave Park – Keith Gleeson is preferred to Shane Jennings at openside flanker.
Prop Stephen Knoop returns to a strong-looking replacements bench alongside the likes of Jennings and Jonathan Sexton, who impressed at out-half after coming on for O’Driscoll last Friday.
Meanwhile, flanker Ross Rennie and out-half Phil Godman, who were both included in the Scotland training squad announced earlier this week, have retained their places in Edinburgh’s starting line-up for the trip to Leinster.
The Scottish outfit have made just one change to the side they fielded for last week’s Magners League win over Ulster. John Houston returns on the left wing after recovering from two dead legs.
There is one alteration on the replacements bench with Calum MacRae gaining a call-up. The Scotland ‘A’ international has missed the opening 10 matches of the season after suffering a severe ankle injury in the summer.
LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Felipe Contepomi, Cillian Willis; Ollie Le Roux, Bernard Jackman, Stan Wright, Leo Cullen, Malcolm O’Kelly, Stephen Keogh, Keith Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Brian Blaney, Stephen Knoop, Cameron Jowitt, Shane Jennings, Chris Keane, Jonathan Sexton, Gary Brown.
EDINBURGH: Ben Cairns; Andrew Turnbull, Nick De Luca, Matt Dey, John Houston; Phil Godman, Mike Blair (capt); Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Gavin Kerr, Matt Mustchin, Ben Gissing, Roland Reid, Ross Rennie, David Callam.
Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Augusto Allori, Craig Hamilton, Simon Cross, Ben Meyer, David Blair, Calum MacRae.
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Coach Speak: Michael Cheika (Leinster) – “Conditions were tough (against Munster last week) and it was a real forward battle. Because the game was so tight and the intensity was there, it also takes a lot out of you mentally.
“That’s part of what we do here – getting the players to return to a good physical condition and a good mental condition as soon as possible after games.
“We know we’re in this period – November to January – where we have been hard at it. Two derbies, followed by two European games, then Ospreys and Munster away followed by two more big Heineken Cup games.
“It’s vital that we balance the amount we train along with the intensity we train at, so that we get the right result.
“Part of the test this week is making sure we’re switched on to improving our performance. It was good to have a couple of wins but if you stay still, people will overtake you. Everyone’s acutely aware that we have to put that Munster game behind us pretty quickly. We’ve got to concentrate on the challenge ahead of us.
“I think Edinburgh are going to come and try to smash us. They’ll come here with no inhibitions.”
Andy Robinson (Edinburgh) – “There were different weather conditions then (when Edinburgh played Leinster in Dublin in the Magners League) – it was a hot September evening. The ground was hard and it was a game between two sides that wanted to play attacking rugby.
“It was an entertaining game, but I just felt that throughout the game, as we have seen over recent weeks, that there were some careless errors (from us).
“But I feel we are now making fewer mistakes which is good and we have tightened up our ability to secure possession up front. I think that is important. I just feel defensively there is a better shape to the way we perform.
“Leinster will ask a lot of questions, not only through their running skills, but also aerially with the kicks in the corner.
“They are a very good offloading team and one thing I’ve noticed about Leinster is they are tougher up front now – they outperformed both Leicester and Munster in that respect.
“We will need to be smart in the way we defend and we will need to be tough against a Leinster pack that has been dominant over the past few games.”
Top Scorers: Leinster – 2007/08 Heineken Cup – Points: Felipe Contepomi 23; Tries: Shane Horgan 1; 2007/08 Magners League – Points: Jonathan Sexton 59; Tries: Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald 3 each.
Edinburgh – 2007/08 Heineken Cup – Points: Nick De Luca, John Houston 5 each; Tries: Nick De Luca, John Houston 1 each; 2007/08 Magners League – Points: Phil Godman 39; Tries: Nick De Luca 3.
PREVIOUS HEINEKEN CUP MEETINGS:
January 13, 2007 – Pool 2: Leinster 49 Edinburgh 10, Donnybrook
Scorers: Leinster: Tries: Rob Kearney, Shane Horgan 3, Felipe Contepomi, Stephen Keogh; Cons: Felipe Contepomi 5; Pens: Felipe Contepomi 3
Edinburgh: Tries: Hugo Southwell, Ben Cairns
October 29, 2006 – Pool 2: Edinburgh 25 Leinster 24, Murrayfield
Scorers: Edinburgh: Try: Rob Dewey; Con: Chris Paterson; Pens: Chris Paterson 5; Drop: Duncan Hodge
Leinster: Tries: Girvan Dempsey 2, Luke Fitzgerald; Cons: Felipe Contepomi 3; Pen: Felipe Contepomi
January 12, 2001 – Pool 1: Leinster 34 Edinburgh 34, Donnybrook
Scorers: Leinster: Tries: Eddie Hekenui, Brian O’Meara, Bob Casey, Leo Cullen; Cons: Eddie Hekenui 4; Pens: Eddie Hekenui
Edinburgh: Tries: Chris Paterson, David Officer, Kevin Utterson; Cons: Duncan Hodge 2; Pens: Duncan Hodge 5
October 6, 2000 – Pool 1: Edinburgh 29 Leinster 21, Myreside
Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries: Chris Paterson, Kevin Utterson, Simon Taylor; Con: Gordon Ross; Pens: Gordon Ross, Duncan Hodge; Drop: Gordon Ross
Leinster: Tries: Girvan Dempsey, Kevin Putt, Malcolm O’Kelly; Pens: Eddie Hekenui 2
– A repeat of last season’s 49-10 Heineken Cup pool win over Edinburgh at Donnybrook would be nicely for a Leinster side who are playing catch-up in Pool 6 after their mauling last month at Toulouse. Michael Cheika’s men are third in the table, five points behind leaders Toulouse, ahead of back-to-back encounters with Edinburgh
– The sides already met this season at the RDS. In the September sunshine, Leinster opened their Magners League campaign with a 23-8 dismissal of Edinburgh. Winger Luke Fitzgerald was a try scorer that evening and he was also on target when the sides clashed at Murrayfield in the Heineken Cup last season
– Flanker Ross Rennie, one of the form players in the Magners League in recent weeks, was one of 13 Edinburgh players included in the Scotland training squad that was announced earlier this week. Rennie was instrumental in Edinburgh’s recent league wins over Llanelli Scarlets and Ulster, Andy Robinson’s first successes since he took the coaching reins
– This is the fifth meeting between the sides in Heineken Cup history and on each occasion the home side have remained unbeaten after recording three wins and a draw