Leinster lifted the Magners League title last Saturday, playing some champagne rugby in a 41-8 defeat of the Newport Gwent Dragons. Michael Cheika’s men will be looking for more of the same when they visit Rodney Parade tonight.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, May 9
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS v LEINSTER, Rodney Parade, 7.10pm (live BBC Wales/Setanta Sports Ireland)
Team News: The Leinster team to face the Dragons in Friday night’s Magners League meeting at Rodney Parade has been named. There are several changes to the starting line-up for the province’s final game of the season.
In the back-line, Chris Keane starts at scrum half and partners Jonathan Sexton at half-back. Michael Berne links up with team captain Brian O’Driscoll in midfield, while Luke Fitzgerald joins Shane Horgan and Girvan Dempsey in the back-three.
In the pack there are starts for Cian Healy, Brian Blaney and Stephen Knoop, with Devin Toner lining up alongside Trevor Hogan in the second row.
Cameron Jowitt and Kevin McLaughlin both start in the back row alongside Stephen Keogh who moves to number eight.
Bernard Jackman, Malcolm O’Kelly and Chris Whitaker have all been named on a strong-looking replacements bench.
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS: Kevin Morgan; Gareth Wyatt, Rhodri Gomer-Davies/Paul Emerick, Phillip Dollman, Richard Fussell; Jason Tovey, Wayne Evans; Hugh Gustafson, Steve Jones, Patrick Palmer, Andy Hall, Luke Charteris, Colin Charvis (capt), James Harris, Joe Bearman/Lewis Evans.
Replacements: Ben Daly, Adam Black, Adam Jones, Lewis Evans/ Richard Parks, Paul Emerick/Gareth Maule, Ceri Sweeney, Alex Walker.
LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Michael Berne, Luke Fitzgerald; Jonathan Sexton, Chris Keane; Cian Healy, Brian Blaney, Stephen Knoop, Trevor Hogan, Devin Toner, Cameron Jowitt, Kevin McLaughlin, Stephen Keogh.
Replacements: Bernard Jackman, Ronan McCormack, Malcolm O’Kelly, Richie Leyden, Chris Whitaker, Christian Warner, Gary Brown.
Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)
Say What: Jonathan Sexton (Leinster) – “Friday’s game is a huge one I think, because it will present players with a chance to stake a claim for next year. I see the Dragons game as a great opportunity to step up to the plate and try to give the coaches some more options.
“The Dragons are dangerous with ball in hand. A few of the tries that they conceded (last Saturday) were from turnovers, but we were conscious in the build-up to last weekend that we needed to guard against their attacking threat.
“There was a lot of talk about that after the win over the Dragons (at the RDS), and that has to be one of our main goals from next season.
“It is important that we remain consistent in the Magners League too, because if you look at it, the great sides like Leicester and Wasps win or compete strongly in their domestic competitions on a regular basis.”
Paul Turner (Newport Gwent Dragons) – “The team were put under immense pressure by Leinster last weekend as they achieved their Magners League title.
“Yet a win at home against the Ospreys and the relief of a Heineken Cup qualification has undoubtedly lifted the players this week.
“Leinster have announced a full strength squad who will be on a high following last weekend. The Dragons will have to be at their best this weekend and I’m sure if we receive the same support as we did against the Ospreys on Tuesday, this will lift the team for their final game of the season at Rodney Parade.
“I’m pleased with the efforts of the team and am always conscious that winning develops confidence, as that’s what this game is about. We will be looking to be very competitive in the Magners League, EDF Energy Cup and Heineken Cup next season.”
Top Scorers: 2007/08 Magners League – Points: Newport Gwent Dragons: Ceri Sweeney 69; Leinster: Felipe Contepomi 126; Tries: Newport Gwent Dragons: Gareth Wyatt 3; Leinster: Luke Fitzgerald, Shane Horgan 6 each.
PREVIOUS LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, February 6, 2004 – Newport Gwent Dragons 35 Leinster 14, Rodney Parade
Friday, May 14, 2004 – Leinster 56 Newport Gwent Dragons 39, Lansdowne Road
Friday, October 1, 2004 – Newport Gwent Dragons 34 Leinster 13, Rodney Parade
Sunday, January 30, 2005 – Leinster 55 Newport Gwent Dragons 3, Lansdowne Road
Friday, September 16, 2005 – Leinster 33 Newport Gwent Dragons 14, Donnybrook
Saturday, February 18, 2006 – Newport Gwent Dragons 31 Leinster 18, Rodney Parade
Saturday, November 4, 2006 – Leinster 35 Newport Gwent Dragons 13, Donnybrook
Friday, April 13, 2007 – Newport Gwent Dragons 22 Leinster 23, Rodney Parade
Saturday, May 3, 2008 – Leinster 41 Newport Gwent Dragons 8, The RDS
– The Newport Gwent Dragons hosted the Ospreys at Rodney Parade on Tuesday evening, beating them 18-10. The Dragons’ only win in seven matches against the Irish provinces this season was a 31-11 victory over Ulster at Rodney Parade on October 6, 2007
– Magners League champions Leinster lost their last away game – 15-13 to Edinburgh at Murrayfield – but have not lost successive matches on the road in the Magners League this season
– Leinster have won their last five games against Welsh opponents
– The two sides clashed in Dublin last Saturday with Leinster running out 41-8 victors. The Dragons have now won just one of their last six encounters with Leinster – a 31-18 verdict at Rodney Parade on February 18, 2006