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Heineken Cup Preview: London Wasps v Leinster

Heineken Cup Preview: London Wasps v Leinster

Beaten away in Castres last time out in Europe, Leinster will be all out to prove their Heineken Cup mettle in the so-called ‘Battle of the Capitals.’Twickenham, the home of English rugby, is the venue for the game and Wasps will be keen to gain revenge on Michael Cheika’s side for their 41-11 defeat at the RDS.

HEINEKEN CUP: POOL 2: Saturday, January 17 

LONDON WASPS v LEINSTER, Twickenham, 5.35pm (live Sky Sports 2)

Team News: The Leinster team to face London Wasps in Saturday’s Heineken Cup Pool 2 showdown at Twickenham has been named.

Luke Fitzgerald will start on the left wing in a strong back-three which includes Leinster’s most capped player in Heineken Cup history Shane Horgan (66 games) and Rob Kearney, who has been named at full-back.

Felipe Contepomi continues his centre partnership with the competition’s joint top try scorer to date this season, Brian O’Driscoll (four tries).

Australian scrum half Chris Whitaker will make his 50th Leinster appearance, partnering Isa Nacewa at half-back.

In the pack, Malcolm O’Kelly links up with skipper Leo Cullen in the second row, with Shane Jennings starting in the back row alongside Rocky Elsom and Jamie Heaslip.

The props will be confirmed an hour before kick-off, while hooker Bernard Jackman is included in the starting line-up after recovering from injury.

Ireland trio Gordon D’Arcy, Girvan Dempsey and Trevor Hogan will hope to be introduced off the replacements bench.

Meanwhile, Wasps director of rugby Ian McGeechan has named his side for the ‘Battle of the Capitals.’

Making three changes to the team that was announced ahead of the postponed clash with Bath last weekend, Josh Lewsey returns to the wing in place of Tom Voyce, who moves to the bench, and Simon Shaw and Joe Worsley replace Dan Leo and Hugo Ellis.

Both Shaw and Worsley, who will collect his 50th Heineken Cup cap on Saturday, return from injury for this do-or-die game.

LONDON WASPS: Mark Van Gisbergen; Paul Sackey, Dominic Waldouck, Riki Flutey, Josh Lewsey; Danny Cipriani, Eoin Reddan; Tim Payne, Rob Webber, Phil Vickery (capt), Simon Shaw, Richard Birkett, Joe Worsley, Serge Betsen, James Haskell.

Replacements: Joe Ward, Tom French, George Skivington, Dan Leo, Joe Simpson, Dave Walder, Tom Voyce.

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll, Felipe Contepomi, Luke Fitzgerald; Isa Nacewa, Chris Whitaker; Stan Wright/Cian Healy, Bernard Jackman, CJ Van Der Linde/Ollie Le Roux, Leo Cullen (capt), Malcolm O’Kelly, Rocky Elsom, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: John Fogarty, Cian Healy/Ollie Le Roux, Trevor Hogan, Sean O’Brien, Chris Keane, Gordon D’Arcy, Girvan Dempsey.

Referee: Christophe Berdos (France)
Touch Judges: Jean-Luc Rebollal, Patrick Bellet (both France)
Television Match Official: Daniel Gillet (France)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): London Wasps to win: 8/11; Draw: 22/1; Leinster to win: 11/10

Pre-Match Quotes: Michael Cheika (Leinster) – “We have had a plan, since the week off before the Ulster game, on how we wanted to bring players back into the team and we feel that we’re pretty well on track for that.

“The players who are not in the starting fifteen still have a major role to play in terms of making an impact and finishing games off.

“The form of some players has put pressure on others, and I’m still hopeful that (Shane) Jennings will have an opportunity to play because we’re appealing that decision to ban him.

“We understand the strengths of all our players in the squad. Tailoring to our game-plan, we will then select the team.

“We’re going to try to use our different talents to impact changes and that’s something that we’re very mindful of.

“I’ve got a lot of belief in the team. I always have done. I’m not naive and I know that we have needed to play better (recently), but we’re aware that we’re playing against very different forces.

“We have gained a lot more self belief and you could see that in the body language at the end of our win over Cardiff last weekend.

“A lot of our guys have had some good moments at Twickenham at international level for Ireland, but this weekend it’s all about the final product that we produce on the day.”

Ian McGeechan (London Wasps) – “Leinster are a very strong, well”-coached side who have shown some outstanding form this season.

“We know we face a huge challenge against tough opponents, but in front of our biggest ever home crowd we will be looking for a top Wasps performance. The whole squad are focused and looking forward to the challenge.”

Heineken Cup Top Scorers – Current Season – London Wasps: Points: Danny Cipriani 36; Tries: Paul Sackey, Josh Lewsey, Tom Voyce, Jeremy Staunton, Tom Rees, Dave Walder 1 each; Leinster: Points: Felipe Contepomi 31; Tries: Brian O’Driscoll 4

Current Form – London Wasps – (Guinness Premiership): Lost 26-14 at home to London Irish; Lost 11-10 at home to Worcester Warriors; Lost 24-20 away to Northampton Saints; Won 28-19 away to Leicester Tigers; Lost 27-23 at home to Bath; (EDF Energy Cup): Lost 24-19 away to Gloucester; (Heineken Cup): Won 25-11 at home to Castres Olympique; Lost 41-11 away to Leinster; (EDF Energy Cup): away to Newcastle Falcons; at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons; (Guinness Premiership): away to Harlequins; at home to Sale Sharks; away to Newcastle Falcons; (Heineken Cup): away to Edinburgh; at home to Edinburgh; (Guinness Premiership): at home to Saracens; away to Sale Sharks; at home to Harlequins

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; (Heineken Cup): Won 27-16 away to Edinburgh; Won 41-11 at home to London Wasps; (Magners League): Lost 15-21 away to Glasgow Warriors; Won 29-13 at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons; (Heineken Cup): Won 33-3 at home to Castres Olympique; Lost 18-15 away to Castres Olympique; (Magners League): Won 21-13 away to Ulster; Won 26-18 at home to Connacht; Won 21-20 at home to the Cardiff Blues   

Previous European Meetings: 2

Saturday, October 18, 2008 – Pool 2 – Leinster 41 London Wasps 11, The RDS
Saturday, March 31, 2007 – Quarter-Final – London Wasps 35 Leinster 13, Adams Park

Heineken Cup Records:

London Wasps –
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2006/07: Champions
2005/06: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2004/05: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2003/04: Champions
2001/02: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
1999/00: Reached the quarter-finals
1997/98: Reached the quarter-finals
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool D

Leinster –
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 more than 7 points