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Magners Preview: Newport Gwent Dragons v Leinster

Magners Preview: Newport Gwent Dragons v Leinster

A number of Academy talents will get a chance to impress Leinster coach Michael Cheika as the Heineken Cup finalists finish up their Magners League campaign with a trip to Rodney Parade, where they lost 31-26 to the Dragons in the equivalent fixture last year.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, May 16

NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS v LEINSTER, Rodney Parade, 5.30pm (live Setanta Sports Ireland/Setanta Sports 2/S4C)

Team News: The Leinster team to face the Newport Gwent Dragons in Saturday’s Magners League clash at Rodney Parade has been named.

Recovered from a bout of the mumps, Rob Kearney returns to the Leinster starting line-up and takes his place in a back-line that features Girvan Dempsey at full-back and Simon Keogh on the right wing.

There are two debutants in centre Kyle Tonetti and out-half Ian McKinley who are the latest players to be promoted from the Leinster Academy.

Tonetti partners Fergus McFadden, who will be making his seventh appearance of the season.

Head coach Michael Cheika has taken the decision to rest a number of frontline players ahead of Saturday week’s Heineken Cup final against Leicester Tigers.

In the second row Devin Toner partners Trevor Hogan, while Kevin McLaughlin forms a strong back row unit alongside Sean O’Brien and Stephen Keogh who will captain the side.

Four further Academy players could be set to make their debuts from the replacements bench, including Kearney’s younger brother David.

The young quartet will be on bench duty alongside the most recent graduate Paul O’Donohoe, who impressed for Clontarf in last weekend’s AIB League Division One final against Shannon.

Meanwhile, Dragons coach Paul Turner has named a team which sees five changes from the side that lost to Edinburgh last Friday.

Gareth Wyatt and Richard Fussell come in on the wings with Phil Dollman starting in the centre and Adam Black in the front row.

Craig Hill gets a second start for the Welsh region in the back row alongside Dan Lydiate.

NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS: Martyn Thomas; Gareth Wyatt, Rhodri Gomer Davies, Phil Dollman, Richard Fussell; Jason Tovey, Wayne Evans; Adam Black, Tom Willis (capt), Rhys Thomas, Andrew Hall, Luke Charteris, Dan Lydiate, Craig Hill, Lewis Evans.

Replacements: Steve Jones, Nigel Hall, Huw Gustafson, Grant Webb, Aled Brew, James Arlidge, Alex Walker.

LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Simon Keogh, Fergus McFadden, Kyle Tonetti, Rob Kearney; Ian McKinley, Chris Keane; Ronan McCormack, John Fogarty, Stephen Knoop, Trevor Hogan, Devin Toner, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Stephen Keogh (capt).

Replacements: Brian Blaney, Jamie Hagan, Cameron Jowitt, Paul Ryan, Paul O’Donohoe, Ian Madigan, David Kearney.

Referee: Graham Knox (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Hugh Watkins, David Jones (both Wales)
Television Match Official: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)

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

Say What: Alan Gaffney (Leinster) – “There are some very good underage players coming through, without doubt. I’m very much looking forward to see how they get on against the Dragons.

“The boys have got the talent. We’ve made sure we’ve got the appropriate amount of experience with that talent – you can’t throw 15 young boys out together.

“There’s been a lot of changes this week. Some people do need games, others don’t. People have been carrying niggles and injuries and we’ll make sure they get the appropriate rest.

“They had a good hit-out last weekend against the Scarlets. We got a good balance between the forwards and the backs, getting quick, clean ball for the backs to run and show their quality.

“The Dragons will be difficult. It’s difficult playing down there at any stage, I don’t think I’ve won too many times at Rodney Parade.

“But if we go down there with the right attitude, which we will with a young, exuberant team, we can get the result.”

Paul Turner (Newport Gwent Dragons) – “Although Leinster may be more focused on their game next week, they have a strength in depth which means they can pose a massive threat.

“But the league is coming down to the wire and it is crucial that we keep focus for this last game.

“Everybody would have preferred to have wrapped it up come this Saturday but the Heineken Cup qualification play-off is something we’ve got to go and do now.

“We’ve got a good enough squad to go out to Italy and win, there’s no question about that.

“What the mind-set will be, well that’s down to me. I’ve got to be quite positive about this and whether it’s Calvisano or Treviso, it’s places we’ve been to before and won.

“We’ve obviously got boys out of contract two days after that game (on May 29) and looking for pastures new, so it’s not ideal, but I suppose we’ve got to get on with it.”

Top Scorers: 2008/09 Magners League – Points: Newport Gwent Dragons: James Arlidge 80; Leinster: Felipe Contepomi 161; Tries: Newport Gwent Dragons: Richard Fussell 7; Leinster: Luke Fitzgerald 7


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
Friday, May 9, 2008 – Newport Gwent Dragons 31 Leinster 26, Rodney Parade
Saturday, November 29, 2008 – Leinster 29 Newport Gwent Dragons 13, The RDS


– The Newport Gwent Dragons have won just one of their last six matches (27-14 over Connacht at Rodney Parade on April 26

– The Dragons have won three of their last four games against Irish opponents at Rodney Parade

– Leinster have won their last three games in all competitions since their 27-16 reversal at Edinburgh in the Magners League on April 17

– Leinster’s only defeat to a Welsh team in their last 13 encounters was a 31-26 loss in this equivalent fixture in round 18 at Rodney Parade last year

– The Dragons have won just one of their last five matches with Leinster