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Magners Preview: Ospreys v Leinster

Magners Preview: Ospreys v Leinster

Leinster will be protecting a proud record when they line out at the Liberty Stadium tonight. The defending Magners League champions have only lost once in their last 11 outings against Welsh opponents and that includes three straight wins over the Ospreys.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, March 6

OSPREYS (2nd) v LEINSTER (3rd), Liberty Stadium, 7.05pm (live Setanta Sports Ireland/BBC Wales)

Team News: The Leinster team to face the Ospreys in Friday night’s Magners League clash at the Liberty Stadium has been named.

Bernard Jackman returns to the starting line-up in the only change from the side that defeated the Scarlets 31-17 last time out. He lines up in a strong pack for the trip to Swansea.

Gordon D’Arcy continues his centre partnership with Fergus McFadden, with Shane Horgan forming an exciting back-three alongside Isa Nacewa and Girvan Dempsey.

In the pack, skipper Shane Jennings and Cameron Jowitt – both try scorers in Llanelli – again start in the back row alongside Rocky Elsom.

Chris Whitaker and Sean O’Brien have both recovered from injury to take their places amongst the replacements.

Meanwhile, the Ospreys are within a whole team of international players due to injury or RBS 6 Nations duty (including Ireland winger Tommy Bowe).

The former league champions will field a weakened team against Leinster, with only player released from the Wales camp being centre Andrew Bishop.

Gavin Henson, Jonathan Thomas and James Hook are some of the key players the Welsh region will be missing.

Hooker Richard Hibbard is also sidelined after injurying his ankle in the Ospreys’ home win over Connacht two weeks ago.

OSPREYS: Gareth Owen; Jonny Vaughton, Sonny Parker, Andrew Bishop, Kristian Phillips; Dan Biggar, Jamie Nutbrown; Paul James (capt), Ed Shervington, Cai Griffiths, Filipo Levi, Andy Lloyd, Tom Smith, Marty Holah, Filo Tiatia.

Replacements: Marc Breeze, Craig Mitchell, Rory Pitman, Steve Tandy, Rhodri Wells, Jonathan Spratt, David Bishop.

LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Fergus McFadden, Gordon D’Arcy, Isa Nacewa; Felipe Contepomi, Paul O’Donohoe; Cian Healy, Bernard Jackman, Stan Wright, Trevor Hogan, Malcolm O’Kelly, Cameron Jowitt, Shane Jennings (capt), Rocky Elsom.

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Replacements: Brian Blaney, Stephen Knoop, Devin Toner, Sean O’Brien, Chris Whitaker, Jonathan Sexton, Simon Keogh. 

Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Tim Hayes, Hugh Watkins (both Wales)
Television Match Official: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ospreys to win: 11/8; Draw: 19/1; Leinster to win: 4/7

Say What: Shane Jennings (Leinster) – “The victory in Llanelli was a very important result and it showed that with Munster also winning, you have to keep the pressure on the teams around you.

“It was great to see a number of the younger players step up to the mark and what they may have lacked in experience, they more than made up for in enthusiasm.

“It is vital that the squad remains competitive and that we’re constantly challenging each other in training. With that in mind, training has been extremely sharp since the Llanelli win.

“There were some good individual displays that night, but we know that we have to improve our discipline.

“I enjoyed captaining the team against Llanelli, but with so many leaders in the dressing room, the role isn’t as prominent nowadays.

“If I feel that there’s something that needs to be said, I’ll say it, but there are a number of leaders who will speak up.

“The important thing is that there is collective responsibility and that we’re heading together in the same direction as a team.

“Friday night’s game is another game that we have to win. There’s the danger that if we slip up that Munster will have an opportunity to put daylight between the other teams.

“So we will have to be focused and treat the Ospreys with the respect they deserve.”

Sean Holley (Ospreys) – “Undoubtedly it’s going to be a huge test for our young team, who will find themselves up against some real world class stars in the Leinster team.

“It’s exactly the sort of test and experience we want for the likes of Kristian Phillips, Gareth Owen, Ed Shervington and Tom Smith, and it will stand them in good stead as they progress in their rugby careers.

“The side that we have named isn’t just about young talent though, we have some true Ospreys and very experienced players in our team and it’s an exciting combination.

“This team is keen to prove that the performance against Connacht, even though culminating in a win, did not reach the standards we set ourselves at the Ospreys, and we have worked hard in training over the last two weeks to get the performance levels right.

“We will be boosted by the supporters’ initiative being offered for this game and look forward to some great support this Friday, especially from the many young fans coming along, and the players will want to provide them with a top performance.

“With so many teams in the Magners League now capable of beating each other, as results this season show, this is a very important game with regard to both teams challenge for the title.

“We are well aware of the challenge Leinster will bring but we are very, very focused, excited and mindful of the position we could put ourselves in come the end of this weekend.”

Top Scorers: 2008/09 Magners League – Points: Ospreys: James Hook 95; Leinster: Felipe Contepomi 130; Tries: Ospreys: James Hook, Nikki Walker 3 each; Leinster: Luke Fitzgerald 5


Saturday, April 29, 2006 – Leinster 38 Ospreys 21, Lansdowne Road
Saturday, January 6, 2007 – Leinster 45 Ospreys 22, Donnybrook
Friday, April 27, 2007 – Ospreys 19 Leinster 17, Liberty Stadium
Friday, November 23, 2007 – Ospreys 19 Leinster 26, Liberty Stadium
Saturday, January 5, 2008 – Leinster 26 Ospreys 15, The RDS
Friday, September 19, 2008 – Leinster 19 Ospreys 13, The RDS


– The Ospreys have won back-to-back games at home to Leicester Tigers and Connacht

– The Welsh side’s only home defeat this season was a 25-21 reversal against Munster in the Magners League on January 9

– Leinster have won their last five matches in the Magners League since a 15-12 defeat at Glasgow on October 24 last

– The Irish province have lost only once to Welsh opposition in their last 11 encounters – 31-26 away to the Dragons on May 9 last

– Leinster have won their last three meetings with the Ospreys since the Welshmen won 19-17 at the Liberty Stadium on April 27, 2007