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Heineken Cup Preview: Leinster v Montpellier

Heineken Cup Preview: Leinster v Montpellier

Head coach Joe Schmidt has promised there will be ‘no let up’ from his Leinster side as they go in search of a result against Montpellier which would clinch a home draw for them in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

HEINEKEN CUP: POOL 3: Saturday, January 21

LEINSTER (1st) v MONTPELLIER (3rd), the RDS, 1.30pm (live Sky Sports 1/HD1/Newstalk)

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Team News: The Leinster team to face Montpellier in Saturday’s Heineken Cup round 6 match at the RDS has been named.

Leo Cullen, who is set to make his 170th appearance for the province, captains a team which shows a number of changes to the side from last weekend’s victory in Glasgow.

Cullen packs down in the second row alongside Damian Browne, while Jamie Heaslip will win his 50th Heineken Cup cap after being named in an all-Ireland international back row with Sean O’Brien and Rhys Ruddock.

Balbriggan’s Jamie Hagan will make his Heineken Cup debut, starting in the front row alongside fellow 2007 Under-20 Grand Slam winning prop Cian Healy as well as the returning Richardt Strauss.

In the back-line, Isaac Boss partners Bank of Ireland Player of the Month Jonathan Sexton at half-back, with Eoin O’Malley coming in to partner Gordon D’Arcy in midfield and Fergus McFadden shifting to the wing.

Sean Cronin, who turned in an impressive performance against Glasgow Warriors, is one of five Ireland internationals named on the province’s replacements bench.

Aside from the usual pre-match ‘Family Day’ activity around the ground, Leinster Rugby will welcome the Cavan RFC male voice choir to the RDS who will warm up the crowd pre-match.

Ashbourne RFC and Coolmine RFC will also perform in the half-time mini rugby exhibition. Gates open at 12pm and there will be no tickets on sale on the day.

With exams and a number of other events around the RDS on the day, fans are advised to arrive early and use public transport.

Meanwhile, although Montpellier are out of the running to reach the tournament’s last-eight, they will still field a strong starting line-up as they gear up for their next Top 14 Championship clash with Stade Francais.

A number of first choice players are back in the side after being rested for last weekend’s home victory over Bath, chief amongst them is returning captain Fulgence Ouedraogo.

He links up with the imposing Mamuka Gorgodze and Alex Tulou in a changed back row, with lock Mickael Demarco being the only forward to keep his place.

Na’ama Leleimalefaga, Agustin Creevy and George Jgenti have been reunited in the front row, and a much-changed back-line will be marshalled by half-backs Francois Trinh-Duc and Julien Thomas.

Former Ulster winger Timoci Nagusa, a try scorer in the club’s first tournament win over Bath (24-22), is the only back to keep hold of his starting jersey.

The French side, who reached the Top 14 final last season, are the only side to have held the defending champions so far during the 2011/12 campaign.

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Eoin O’Malley, Gordon D’Arcy, Isa Nacewa; Jonathan Sexton, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss, Jamie Hagan, Leo Cullen (capt), Damian Browne, Rhys Ruddock, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Heinke van der Merwe, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Shane Jennings, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Fionn Carr.

MONTPELLIER: Lucas Amorosino; Timoci Nagusa, Yoan Audrin, Paul Bosch, Martin Bustos Moyano; Francois Trinh-Duc, Julien Tomas; Na’ama Leleimalefaga, Agustin Creevy, George Jgenti, Drickus Hancke, Mickael Demarco, Fulgence Ouedraogo (capt), Mamuka Gorgodze, Alex Tulou.

Replacements: Rassie van Vuuren, Juan Figallo, Maximiliano Bustos, Joe Tuineau, Vassili Bost, Benoit Paillaugue, Santiago Fernandez, Geoffrey Doumayrou.

Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Robin Goodliffe (both Wales)
Television Match Official: David Grashoff (England)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/10; Draw: 30/1; Montpellier to win: 6/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Sean Cronin (Leinster) – “A home quarter-final is crucial and every team at the top of their pool will be targeting that, but we’re facing another incredibly hard game against Montpellier this weekend.

“They were extremely tough over there and we struggled a small bit before coming back into the game in the final 20 minutes. We got the draw and were lucky to do so.

“We were delighted to get the four points against Glasgow last time out because we knew how tough it was going to be. Firhill isn’t an easy place to go to and get four points.

“We struggled to get go-forward ball and we gave away a few penalties at scrum time. That is worrying and is definitely something we will have to take a look at it in the week because it has been creeping into our game.

“I’ve got a good record with Leinster and I haven’t lost a Heineken Cup game with them yet. I’m happy enough with my form and it’s all about taking your chance when you get it.

“There is no room for complacency because it’s such a competitive squad. You have to be at the top of your game all the time.”

Current Form – Leinster – (RaboDirect PRO12): Lost 27-3 away to the Ospreys; Won 31-10 at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons; Lost 23-19 at home to Glasgow Warriors; Won 15-10 away to the Scarlets; Won 26-7 at home to Aironi Rugby; Won 30-20 at home to Connacht; Won 36-28 away to Edinburgh; Won 24-19 at home to Munster; (Heineken Cup): Drew 16-16 with Montpellier; Won 38-13 at home to Glasgow Warriors; (RaboDirect PRO12): Won 30-20 away to Benetton Treviso; Won 52-9 at home to the Cardiff Blues; (Heineken Cup): Won 18-13 away to Bath; Won 52-27 at home to Bath; (RaboDirect PRO12): Won 42-13 at home to Ulster; Won 15-13 away to Connacht; Won 23-19 away to Cardiff Blues; (Heineken Cup): Won 23-16 away to Glasgow Warriors

Montpellier – (Top 14 Championship): Lost 30-22 away to Racing Metro 92; Lost 28-12 at home to Brive; Drew 19-19 away to Stade Francais; Lost 19-12 away to Perpignan; Lost 20-16 at home to Bordeaux-Begles; Won 19-6 at home to Toulon; Won 26-17 away to Bayonne; Lost 21-16 at home to Castres Olympique; Lost 18-12 away to Agen; (Heineken Cup): Drew 16-16 at home to Leinster; Lost 16-13 away to Bath; (Top 14 Championship): Won 29-23 at home to Clermont Auvergne; Won 30-10 away to Lyon; Won 30-23 away to Biarritz Olympique; (Heineken Cup): Lost 20-15 away to Glasgow Warriors; Drew 13-13 at home to Glasgow Warriors; (Top 14 Championship): Lost 45-25 at home to Toulouse; Won 29-14 at home to Racing Metro 92; Won 23-9 away to Brive; (Heineken Cup): Won 24-22 at home to Bath

Top Scorers – 2011/12 Heineken Cup: Leinster – Points: Jonathan Sexton 63; Tries: Rob Kearney 3; Montpellier – Points: Martin Bustos Moyano 20; Tries: Fulgence Ouedraogo, Martin Bustos Moyano, Eric Escande, Masi Matadigo, Yoan Audrin, Timoci Nagusa, Pierre Bérard, Alex Tulou 1 each

Previous European Meetings: 1

Saturday, November 12, 2011 – Pool 3 – Montpellier 16 Leinster 16, Stade de la Mosson

Heineken Cup Records:

Leinster –
2010/11: Champions
2009/10: Reached the semi-finals
2008/09: Champions
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

Montpellier –
2011/12 is their first season in the Heineken Cup