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RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Leinster v Benetton Treviso

RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Leinster v Benetton Treviso

Having been stung by two successive defeats, Leinster need to produce the goods at home to Benetton Treviso as we enter the final furlongs of the RaboDirect PRO12 play-off race.

RABODIRECT PRO12: Friday, April 18

LEINSTER (1st) v BENETTON TREVISO (11th), the RDS, 5pm (live TG4/deferred coverage Sport Mediaset)

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Team News: The Leinster team to face Benetton Treviso in the RaboDirect PRO12 at the RDS on Friday evening has been named.

There are two changes in the backs from the team that lost to the Ospreys with Brian O’Driscoll returning at outside centre in place of Gordon D’Arcy and Darragh Fanning starting on the left wing instead of Dave Kearney.

Noel Reid, who scored a try against Treviso in November, retains his place at inside centre, while Rob Kearney continues at full-back and Zane Kirchner plays on the right wing.

The starting half-backs are unchanged with Jimmy Gopperth and Isaac Boss continuing in the number 10 and 9 jerseys respectively.

Gopperth kicked 14 points in Swansea and lines out for his 25th Leinster cap. Boss is edging ever closer to a century of Leinster appearances and Friday’s round 20 fixture will mark his 95th game in blue.

Jamie Heaslip captains the side from number 8 and the selected pack sees no changes in the front row with Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Martin Moore starting once again.

There is one change in the second row with Mike McCarthy starting in place of Leo Cullen, and a further two changes in the back row with Rhys Ruddock and Jordi Murphy coming in for the injured Kevin McLaughlin and Shane Jennings.

While Leinster have suffered two successive away losses, they are unbeaten in the RaboDirect PRO12 at home in their last eleven games – including eight victories on the trot.

In the corresponding fixture in November at the Stadio di Monigo, Leinster scraped home 21-20 with a Gopperth penalty in the 75th minute proving decisive.

Meanwhile, Benetton Treviso boss Marius Goosen has made three changes to his pack for the Easter weekend trip to Dublin.

The Italians come into this game on the back of a confidence-boosting 45-27 home win over the Newport Gwent Dragons.

The back-line includes Tobie Botes, who is making his 100th appearance for the club, and former Leinster player Mat Berquist at half-back.

The only alterations are in the front five where Matteo Muccignat starts at loosehead prop and Marco Fuser and Valerio Bernabò are drafted into the second row.

Dean Budd is back on the Treviso bench and in line for his first appearance since the Parma game against Zebre in January. If Brendan Williams is called upon, it will be his 249th outing for the club – putting him sixth on their all-time list.

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; Zane Kirchner, Brian O’Driscoll, Noel Reid, Darragh Fanning; Jimmy Gopperth, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Martin Moore, Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy, Rhys Ruddock, Jordi Murphy, Jamie Heaslip (capt).

Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Jack McGrath, Michael Bent, Tom Denton, Dominic Ryan, Luke McGrath, Ian Madigan, Brendan Macken.

BENETTON TREVISO: Luke McLean; Ludovico Nitoglia, Michele Campagnaro, Christian Loamanu, Angelo Esposito; Mat Berquist, Tobie Botes; Matteo Muccignat, Leonardo Ghiraldini (capt), Lorenzo Cittadini, Marco Fuser, Valerio Bernabò, Marco Filippucci, Paul Derbyshire, Robert Barbieri.

Replacements: Giovanni Maistri, Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, Pedro di Santo, Antonio Pavanello, Dean Budd, Fabio Semenzato, James Ambrosini, Brendan Williams.

Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Eddie Hogan O’Connell, Will O’Connor (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/50; Draw: 40/1; Benetton Treviso to win: 12/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Mike McCarthy (Leinster) – “We’re in a good place looking at the table. We know it’s knockout rugby now. Anymore slip-ups and that could be the season for us.

“We want to cement the top place obviously to try and get the home semi-final and home final. We’ve got tough teams to play. We know we’re going to have to improve.

“Treviso are a very big, physical side and they had a very big win against the Dragons at the weekend.

“It’s going to be nice for us to be back home at the RDS and we’re looking forward to being back home. But we’re under no illusions – Treviso are playing some good rugby at the moment.

“Matt’s been great, a really positive influence. The stuff we’re doing in training is great. It’s never going to be perfect and there’s always things to work on every week, so hopefully we’ll get back on track this week.”

Isaac Boss (Leinster) – “Treviso have had a lot of disruptions with guys out during the Six Nations. They’ve got some pretty good players and all the way through they’ve got big strong runners and skilful backs.

“It (the league run-in) starts this weekend for us. It’s in our hands if we can win all these matches to stay at home, which is all we can really focus on.

“No one’s got an easy run-in. Glasgow are looking very good, Munster are always a threat and Ulster are looking good after the weekend as well.

“There’s a lot to play for and we really want to be at home (in the semi-finals). We do it week by week, if we can get a good result this week, at home, with the good support against Treviso, that takes a big step towards the next two weeks after that.

“We’ve got a good squad. We’re lucky enough that we can deal with being in a position after five days to turnaround and go away to the Ospreys and be in a position to win it.

“I think we should have done better (last week). I don’t think there’s anything dire we need to change. We need just a little bit more focus.”

Top Scorers – 2013/14 RaboDirect PRO12: Leinster – Points: Jimmy Gopperth 123; Tries: Noel Reid 5; Benetton Treviso – Points: Mat Berquist 139; Tries: Ludovico Nitoglia 6


Friday, February 25, 2011 – Leinster 30 Benetton Treviso 5, the RDS
Saturday, November 26, 2011 – Benetton Treviso 20 Leinster 30, Stadio di Monigo
Thursday, February 9, 2012 – Leinster 42 Benetton Treviso 8, the RDS
Saturday, September 15, 2012 – Benetton Treviso 18 Leinster 19, Stadio di Monigo
Saturday, February 16, 2013 – Leinster 40 Benetton Treviso 5, the RDS
Sunday, November 24, 2013 – Benetton Treviso 20 Leinster 21, Stadio di Monigo


– Leinster have now lost their last two matches, at Toulon and the Ospreys, and have not lost three in-a-row since December 2012

– The Leinstermen are unbeaten in their last eleven RaboDirect PRO12 home matches including eight successive wins. The province have never lost at home to an Italian side

– Benetton Treviso have won two of their last three matches, while their bonus point win at home to the Dragons last Saturday was their first five-point success since round 22 last season

– The Italians have not been victorious in Ireland since beating Connacht in Galway in December 2011

– The two sides have met on nine previous occasions in all tournaments with Treviso’s only previous victory being 29-13 at Stadio di Monigo in the PRO12 in September 2010