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Magners Preview: Edinburgh v Leinster

Magners Preview: Edinburgh v Leinster

Leinster will be crowned Magners League champions if they secure a bonus point victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield. However, the title-chasing province have only won once away to Edinburgh previously.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, April 18

EDINBURGH v LEINSTER, Murrayfield, 7.30pm (live Setanta Sports 2/deferred coverage Setanta Sports Ireland)

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Team News: The Leinster team to face Edinburgh in Friday night’s Magners League clash at Murrayfield has been confirmed, and in a considerable boost for the province, Brian O’Driscoll is back in the side.

Ireland captain O’Driscoll returns to the Leinster starting line-up for his first outing since he tore a hamstring in Ireland’s Six Nations defeat to Wales on March 8.

The game will also mark O’Driscoll’s 100th appearance for the province and a bonus point win would see them their first league title under coach Michael Cheika.

O’Driscoll will partner Felipe Contepomi in Leinster’s midfield and in the only other change to the back-line that started the 21-12 victory over Munster last Saturday, Luke Fitzgerald moves to the right wing as Shane Horgan is ill.

Trevor Hogan will line up in the second row in a pack that also shows two changes, with Stephen Keogh forming the back row alongside Shane Jennings and Jamie Heaslip.

The Leinster replacements bench will be confirmed an hour before kick-off.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh coach Andy Robinson has handed young scrum half Greig Laidlaw his first start of the season.

The 23-year-old, who joined Edinburgh last summer from Jed-Forest, will start in place of captain Mike Blair who is out with concussion.

Laidlaw played a part in Scotland’s Sevens victory at last weekend’s 125th Melrose tournament.

In other changes, Robinson has brought fit-again centre Nick De Luca in to partner Ben Cairns in midfield.

De Luca has recovered from an ankle injury. His inclusion sees John Houston switch to the left wing, while, in the forwards, Augusto Allori takes over at loosehead prop from calf injury victim Craig Smith.

The Scottish side’s other injured players include Allan Jacobsen, Andrew Turnbull, Rolland Reid, Ross Rennie and Simon Cross.

EDINBURGH: Hugo Southwell; Simon Webster, Ben Cairns, Nick De Luca, John Houston; Phil Godman, Greig Laidlaw; Augusto Allori, Ross Ford, Gavin Kerr, Matt Mustchin, Ben Gissing, Allister Hogg (capt), Alan MacDonald, David Callam.

Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Geoff Cross, Craig Hamilton, Scott Newlands, Ben Meyer, David Blair, Calum MacRae.

LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Luke Fitzgerald, Brian O’Driscoll, Felipe Contepomi, Rob Kearney; Jonathan Sexton, Chris Whitaker; Ollie Le Roux, Bernard Jackman, Stan Wright, Leo Cullen (capt), Trevor Hogan, Stephen Keogh, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements (from): Brian Blaney, Stephen Knoop, Malcolm O’Kelly, Cameron Jowitt, Keith Gleeson, Chris Keane, Christian Warner, Michael Berne, Gary Brown.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

Say What: Phil Godman (Edinburgh) – “It should be a good match-up. I enjoy playing against (Felipe) Contepomi, we are slightly similar players.

“He is a class act and he can produce something out of nothing. When he is on form he is hard to stop. He is one of the best around, so we need to stop him playing on Friday night.

“Our defence was fantastic during the win against Leinster in the Heineken Cup (in December) and we need to get back to that, especially after our last two performances.

“That was a brilliant display and we will need to replicate that because they have got some world class players in their team. We will have to step up and put pressure on them.

“It was great to see so many Edinburgh fans at the Glasgow match and the noise they made was noticed by the team.

“It would be great to see another big crowd at Murrayfield on Friday because we want to finish the season on a high note and give them all something to cheer about.”

Girvan Dempsey (Leinster) – “We are in a strong position in the league now and while there are some who might feel that we can take our eye off the ball, you can’t afford to do that in this competition where all the teams are so strong.

“Over the last five or six weeks, we have taken each and every test on an individual basis, and as Michael Cheika says, we’re treating each and every game as a cup final.

“We’re targeting each game as a win, because we want to create a winning culture in the squad.

“Edinburgh are a good side and they don’t get the respect they deserve. They’re a very strong outfit, they chase you down and never give up.

“They’re not afraid to throw the ball about and we know that they will fight to the very end.

“For us though, Friday night is a new game. We’re starting afresh and focusing on this upcoming game on an individual basis.”

Top Scorers: 2007/08 Magners League – Points: Edinburgh: Phil Godman 94; Leinster: Felipe Contepomi 107; Tries: Edinburgh: Andrew Turnbull 4; Leinster: Luke Fitzgerald, Jamie Heaslip, Shane Horgan 5 each.


Friday, September 26, 2003 – Leinster 30 Edinburgh 33, Donnybrook
Friday, February 27, 2004 – Edinburgh 40 Leinster 34, Murrayfield
Sunday, October 10, 2004 – Leinster 35 Edinburgh 13, Donnybrook
Saturday, February 19, 2005 – Edinburgh 41 Leinster 33, Murrayfield
Sunday, November 6, 2005 – Leinster 13 Edinburgh 27, Donnybrook
Friday, May 26, 2006 – Edinburgh 8 Leinster 31, Murrayfield
Friday, September 8, 2006 – Edinburgh 20 Leinster 14, Murrayfield
Friday, February 16, 2007 – Leinster 13 Edinburgh 6, Donnybrook
Saturday, September 22, 2007 – Leinster 23 Edinburgh 8, The RDS


– Edinburgh have won just one of their last six matches – they were 38-8 winners over Connacht at Murrayfield in the Magners League on March 21

– The Scottish capital side have won three of their last four games against Irish opponents at Murrayfield

– Leinster require five match points and a victory from their three remaining games to become the Magners League champions for the second time

– Should Michael Cheika’s side win in Edinburgh they would tie their own league record for successive victories – eleven set during their first 11 league games between 2001 and 2002

– The two sides have already met on three occasions this season with Leinster taking the Magners League clash 23-8 at the RDS in September, while each team won its respective home game in the pool stages of the Heineken Cup

– Leinster’s only previous win away to Edinburgh was a 31-8 victory at Murrayfield in the league on May 26, 2006