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Heineken Cup Preview: Edinburgh v Leinster

Heineken Cup Preview: Edinburgh v Leinster

Leinster’s build-up to the new Heineken Cup campaign has been far from ideal, with back-to-back defeats to Munster and Connacht, but Michael Cheika’s men have little reason not to be motivated as they try to end their four-match losing streak at Murrayfield.

HEINEKEN CUP – POOL 2: Saturday, October 11

EDINBURGH v LEINSTER, Murrayfield, 1.35pm (live Sky Sports 2/HD2)

Team News: The Leinster team to face Edinburgh in Heineken Cup Pool 2 at Murrayfield on Saturday afternoon has been named.

Brian O’Driscoll partners Luke Fitzgerald at centre with Felipe Contepomi reverting to out-half.

The other changes in the back-line see Chris Whitaker and Girvan Dempsey starting at scrum half and full-back respectively.

In the pack, Bernard Jackman returns to partner Stan Wright and CJ Van Der Linde in the front row.

Devin Toner lines up alongside team captain Leo Cullen after impressing last weekend against Connacht, with Malcolm O’Kelly ruled out after picking up a knock.

Jamie Heaslip and Shane Jennings also return in the back row to partner Australian international Rocky Elsom.

Meanwhile, Simon Webster and Chris Paterson both return to the Edinburgh starting line-up for the Heineken Cup Pool 2 opener.

Winger Webster is fully recovered from the hip injury which kept him out for the first month of the season.

Goal-kicking full-back Paterson sat out last weekend’s Magners League loss to Ulster with to an ankle injury.

Webster said: “It is just such a relief to be given the all-clear to play rugby again. This first month of the season has been really frustrating because I felt I had regained my sharpness after our pre-season win at Bath.

“So to experience another delayed start to the season has been a blow, but now I’m looking to make up for lost time – starting with the match against Leinster.”

Edinburgh have collected only one win from their five Magners League matches so far this season and Robinson admitted that improvements need to be made to his side’s play if they are to make progress in this season’s cup.

EDINBURGH: Chris Paterson; Mark Robertson, Hugo Southwell, Nick De Luca, Simon Webster; Phil Godman, Mike Blair (capt); Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Matt Mustchin, Jim Hamilton, Scott Newlands, Alan MacDonald, Allister Hogg.

Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Gavin Kerr, Ben Gissing, Craig Hamilton, Greig Laidlaw, David Blair, John Houston.

LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Luke Fitzgerald, Brian O’Driscoll, Rob Kearney; Felipe Contepomi, Chris Whitaker; Stan Wright, Bernard Jackman, CJ Van Der Linde, Leo Cullen (capt), Devin Toner, Rocky Elsom, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: John Fogarty, Cian Healy, Trevor Hogan, Stephen Keogh, Chris Keane, Jonathan Sexton, Gary Brown.

Referee: Rob Debney (England)
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank, Stuart Terheege (both England)
Television Match Official: Geoff Warren (England)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Edinburgh to win: 6/4; Draw: 20/1; Leinster to win: 8/15

Pre-Match Quotes: Leo Cullen (Leinster) – “The Leinster players, just like those in the other 23 teams, are really pumped up for the Heineken Cup and at the moment all the teams are level with everything to play for.

“We start at Murrayfield and we know only too well just what a poor record we have at the ground so the guys are really going to have to front up.

“It really is going to be a tough test for us but we have to start righting that Murrayfield record.

“It obviously has not been a happy hunting ground for us for a number of seasons and there will certainly be no complacency going into the game.

“Edinburgh have produced some impressive results under their coach Andy Robinson, they have added quality players to their squad and it is going to be a challenging start for us.

“On top of that, we are in a tough pool that also includes London Wasps and Castres Olympique and the standard of the tournament gets better and better – as well as harder and harder to win.

“I believe all the Irish provinces have moved on in recent seasons but now it is time for Leinster to produce the performances to match the off-the-field developments.

“We did win the Magners League title last season but we appreciate that to be seen as a really big club we have to work hard to consistently hit those heights.”

Current Form – Edinburgh (Magners League): Lost 20-15 at home to Munster; Lost 52-6 away to Leinster; Won 32-12 at home to the Scarlets; Lost 11-9 away to the Newport Gwent Dragons; Lost 13-9 away to Ulster

Leinster (Magners League): Drew 16-16 away to the Cardiff Blues; Won 52-6 at home to Edinburgh; Won 19-13 at home to the Ospreys; Lost 18-0 at home to Munster; Lost 19-18 away to Connacht

Previous European Meetings: 6

Saturday, December 15, 2007 – Pool 6 – Edinburgh 29 Leinster 10, Murrayfield
Friday, December 7, 2007 – Pool 6 – Leinster 28 Edinburgh 14, The RDS
Saturday, January 13, 2007 – Pool 2 – Leinster 49 Edinburgh 10, Donnybrook
Sunday, October 29, 2006 – Pool 2 – Edinburgh 25 Leinster 24, Murrayfield
Friday, January 12, 2001 – Pool 1 – Leinster 34 Edinburgh 34, Donnybrook
Friday, October 6, 2000 – Pool 1 – Edinburgh 29 Leinster 21, Murrayfield

Heineken Cup Records:

Edinburgh –
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2006/07: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2005/06: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2004/05: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2003/04: Reached the quarter-finals
2002/03: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2001/02: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
1999/00: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
1998/99: Failed to qualify from Pool C
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool A

2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2006/07: Reached the quarter-finals
2005/06: Reached the semi-finals
2004/05: Reached the quarter-finals
2003/04: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2002/03: Reached the semi-finals
2001/02: Reached the quarter-finals
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
1999/00: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
1998/99: Failed to qualify from Pool A
1997/98: Failed to qualify from Pool A
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool B
1995/96: Reached the semi-finals

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Leinster to win by less than 7 points