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GUINNESS PRO12 Preview: Leinster v Ospreys

GUINNESS PRO12 Preview: Leinster v Ospreys

A meeting of the reigning GUINNESS PRO12 champions and the team that have topped the table for seven of the previous eight rounds, as both Leinster and the Ospreys look to make up lost ground after defeats last weekend.

GUINNESS PRO12: Saturday, November 29

LEINSTER (5th) v OSPREYS (2nd), the RDS, 5.15pm (live TG4/Sky Sports 2 HD)

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Team News: Having completed the Captain’s Run on Friday morning, Matt O’Connor has announced six changes to the Leinster team for Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO12 encounter with the Ospreys.

It is an even split with three changes in the backs and three in the pack, but significantly Fergus McFadden makes a welcome return having injured his ankle in the PRO12 derby against Munster on the October 4. He lines out at outside centre.

Inside him is Ian Madigan who had an impressive GUINNESS Series with Ireland and is only three points short of 600 points for Leinster in what will be his 116th provincial appearance since his debut in May 2009.

There is a change in the half-backs with Eoin Reddan coming in at scrum half and as captain, with Jimmy Gopperth continuing in the number 10 jersey.

Elsewhere, it is as you were with Zane Kirchner, Darragh Fanning and Dave Kearney in the back-three. Fanning scored two tries for Leinster against Benetton Treviso and is in line to win his 25th cap.

With Richardt Strauss and Kevin McLaughlin ruled out through injury, their replacements last weekend against Treviso start in their place for the round 9 tie. Bryan Byrne, who scored his first ever Leinster senior try within minutes of his introduction, starts at hooker with Dominic Ryan filling the blindside flanker berth.

The rest of the front row sees Michael Bent and Tadhg Furlong once again selected at loosehead and tighthead prop respectively, while in the second row Mike McCarthy has been selected alongside Kane Douglas.

Jordi Murphy makes his second appearance of the season having shown no ill-effects after his return from shoulder surgery, while Jack Conan continues at number 8.

Tickets for the game are still available at www.leinsterrugby.ie/tickets. Those who have already bought tickets can avail of a free seat upgrade by downloading the Leinster Rugby App and following the instructions.

Meanwhile, Ospreys boss Steve Tandy has made four changes in personnel to the side that lost 25-16 to Ulster in Belfast last weekend.

Ashley Beck (soft tissue) and Duncan Jones (ligaments) are both nursing injuries, so Hanno Dirksen will start at inside centre and Marc Thomas gets the nod at loosehead prop.

Tyler Ardron is back from international duty with Canada, forming the second row partnership with captain Lloyd Peers, while James King’s call-up to the Welsh bench sees Joe Bearman return at blindside flanker.

The Ospreys are without seven players due to international commitments this week and a further twelve are on the injury list at present. They have two potential PRO12 debutants on the bench in prop Gareth Thomas and winger Dafydd Howells.

LEINSTER: Zane Kirchner; Darragh Fanning, Fergus McFadden, Ian Madigan, Dave Kearney; Jimmy Gopperth, Eoin Reddan (capt); Michael Bent, Bryan Byrne, Tadhg Furlong, Mike McCarthy, Kane Douglas, Dominic Ryan, Jordi Murphy, Jack Conan.

Replacements: James Tracy, Peter Dooley, Jamie Hagan, Tom Denton, Rhys Ruddock, Isaac Boss, Noel Reid, Gordon D’Arcy.

OSPREYS: Dan Evans; Aisea Natoga, Andrew Bishop, Hanno Dirksen, Tom Grabham; Sam Davies, Martin Roberts; Marc Thomas, Sam Parry, Dimitri Arhip, Lloyd Peers (capt), Tyler Ardron, Joe Bearman, Sam Lewis, Dan Baker.
Replacements: Scott Otten, Gareth Thomas, Cai Griffiths, Rynier Bernardo, Ieuan Jones, Tom Habberfield, Josh Matavesi, Dafydd Howells.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Mark Patton, Stuart Gaffikin (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Alan Rogan (Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/8; Draw: 30/1; Ospreys to win: 9/2

Pre-Match Quotes: Dave Kearney (Leinster) – “I feel fresh. I feel that my body is in a good place and that the more games I now get under my belt the more I will get rid of any rustiness. But the focus is 100% on Leinster. I have to get playing for Matt and performing consistently and I think that if that happens, you are putting yourself in the right shop window for Joe to take notice.

“To be honest, I am just taking it one game at a time. I am still getting back used to being in the environment properly again and training with the lads on a daily basis and getting the fitness levels up. If I can get another solid run under my belt now on Saturday against the Ospreys, I’ll be very happy.

“For whatever reason the Ospreys always cause us issues. They know how to get a result against us so if we play like we did (in Treviso) last weekend, we won’t get the rewards. We know them well enough too having played them four times as recently as last year.

“In the PRO12, we had a great battle with them here at home and drew with them before going on our travels and losing to them.

“In the Heineken Cup as it was then, we managed to get the better of them on both occasions but they had a man sent off when we played them here. For me, though, my season is just beginning and I can’t wait to run out on Saturday at the RDS.”

Steve Tandy (Ospreys) – “As frustrating as it was against Ulster there were plenty of positives to take from the game, not least the endeavour and spirit that we showed in bucketloads in the second half.

“To have worked our way back into it from the position we were in at half-time, to be in with a real chance of not just taking a bonus point but actually winning it, showed that we are developing a group that has real character.

“We’re up against it (this week), circumstances with the fourth international mean that we have to go to one of the toughest places in European rugby without some key figures while they (Leinster) could have all their Ireland contingent available on the back of a great autumn for them. Throw in some injuries, with more boys ruled out of action this week, and you can see the size of the challenge we’re facing.

“We’re up for it though. It’s the nature of the sport that players will always be missing with injury and it opens up opportunities for others to come in and show what they can do. We know it’s going to be a hard night at the office but the boys are all up for it and have prepared really well this week.

“This is a huge period for us, with some massive games coming up that will shape our season and we all need to pull together, on and off the field.”

Top Scorers – 2014/15 GUINNESS PRO12: Leinster – Points: Ian Madigan 77; Tries: Ian Madigan, Dominic Ryan, Darragh Fanning 3 each; Ospreys – Points: Dan Biggar 70; Tries: Rhys Webb 5


Friday, March 23, 2012 – Leinster 22 Ospreys 23, the RDS
Sunday, May 27, 2012 – Final – Leinster 30 Ospreys 31, the RDS
Sunday, November 4, 2012 – Ospreys 19 Leinster 10, Liberty Stadium
Friday, May 3, 2013 – Leinster 37 Ospreys 19, the RDS
Saturday, September 14, 2013 – Leinster 29 Ospreys 29, the RDS
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Ospreys 29 Leinster 19, Liberty Stadium


– Leinster are unbeaten in their last five matches in all competitions since tripping up at home to Munster in round 5 of the GUINNESS PRO12 at the Aviva Stadium

– The Leinstermen have won their last 17 matches at the RDS in all competitions since a 29-all draw with the Ospreys in the PRO12 in September 2013 (Matt O’Connor’s first home game in charge), while their only defeat at the venue since May 2012 was inflicted by Ulster on March 30, 2013

– The Ospreys’ only win in their last five contests in all competitions was 26-11 at home to Connacht in round 7 of the PRO12, however their loss in Belfast last Friday was their first reversal of the 2014/15 campaign

– The Welshmen have won only two games away at Irish provinces since February 2013: at Connacht in September 2013 and at Munster in September 2014

– The two sides met on four occasions last season with Leinster taking both encounters in the European Cup but the Ospreys securing a win and a draw in the PRO12

– The Ospreys have played nine previous PRO12 matches at the RDS, winning three, drawing one and losing five