Leinster and Edinburgh, two of the teams through to the last-four of the Heineken Cup, meet at the RDS tonight with Joe Schmidt’s men just one win away from securing a coveted home semi-final spot in the RaboDirect PRO12.
RABODIRECT PRO12: Friday, April 13
LEINSTER (1st) v EDINBURGH (11th), the RDS, 7.45pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)
Team News: The Leinster team to face Edinburgh in Friday night’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash at the RDS has been named.
Jamie Heaslip captains the selected side and the Naas man is one of only three survivors in the starting line-up from last weekend’s Heineken Cup quarter-final win over the Cardiff Blues.
In all, there are eight Ireland internationals in the side to face Edinburgh with Heaslip joined in the back row by Shane Jennings and Rhys Ruddock.
Damian Browne makes his 20th appearance of the season and partners Devin Toner in the second row, with Sean Cronin joining Heinke van der Merwe and Nathan White in the front row after all three featured as second half replacements against Cardiff.
Isaac Boss forms the half-back partnership with the in-form Ian Madigan, who is second in the league’s try-scoring list this season with seven in 17 games.
Madigan is in line to make his 45th Leinster appearance with Fergus McFadden lining up at outside centre alongside Gordon D’Arcy.
Fionn Carr, making his 18th appearance of the season, right winger David Kearney and Isa Nacewa, one of the try scorers against the Blues, complete the line-up.
Kevin McLaughlin, Eoin Reddan and Richardt Strauss are named amongst a replacements bench which sees a blend of youth and experience including promising prop Martin Moore.
The 22-year-old Lansdowne front rower could make his senior debut for the province whom he previously captained at Under-20 level.
Close to 16,000 tickets have been sold for Friday’s game which will incorporate the specially themed ‘Leinster Rugby Spring Fling’
Meanwhile, Edinburgh boss Michael Bradley has made just one personnel change to the squad that toppled Toulouse in the Heineken Cup last weekend, but has sought to refresh his team with five changes to the starting fifteen.
Scrum half Chris Leck is the only change to the backs division, continuing where he left off in the Toulouse game, having replaced the injured Mike Blair (shoulder) at the interval.
Kyle Traynor replaces the injured Allan Jacobsen (face) at loosehead prop, with Esteban Lozada reintroduced to the squad to start alongside Sean Cox in the second row.
Finally, the Scottish club’s plentiful back row options are rotated as Stuart McInally and Roddy Grant swap places with David Denton and Ross Rennie respectively.
LEINSTER: Isa Nacewa; David Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Gordon D’Arcy, Fionn Carr; Ian Madigan, Isaac Boss; Heinke van der Merwe, Sean Cronin, Nathan White, Damian Browne, Devin Toner, Rhys Ruddock, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip (capt).
Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Kevin McLaughlin, Leo Auva’a, Eoin Reddan, Noel Reid, Brendan Macken.
EDINBURGH: Tom Brown; Lee Jones, Nick De Luca, Matt Scott, Tim Visser; Greig Laidlaw (capt), Chris Leck; Kyle Traynor, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Esteban Lozada, Sean Cox, Stuart McInally, Roddy Grant, Netani Talei.
Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Robin Hislop, Jack Gilding, Grant Gilchrist, David Denton, Ross Rennie, Phil Godman, Jim Thompson.
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson, Simon McDowell (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Jude Quinn (Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/12; Draw: 25/1; Edinburgh to win: 6/1
Pre-Match Quotes: Shane Jennings (Leinster) – “Every time we play Edinburgh in the league, we always have very tough games over there (in Scotland). It was the same story this year. It was quite a high-scoring game (36-28). We were sloppy at times.
“They’ve got good counter attackers and they finished well. We are expecting no different this week. They’ve got a very good back row, very good ball carriers.
“Against a team like Edinburgh they can get to 10, 12, 14, 15 phases. They are very good at it. It is going to be a good competition at the breakdown.
“It is massively important. The team that is sharpest there and disciplined enough not to give away penalties will usually come out on top.
“Fortunately, this year we are not chasing down the league as we might have been last year. We are somewhat more in control this year with the cushion of points (at the top of the table).
“That has obviously helped us (being ahead of the chasing pack). We’ve done a lot of good work during the year which has put us in contention for this.”
Michael Bradley (Edinburgh) – “We face a very tough task in Dublin this weekend against a side who comfortably made the semi-finals for the fourth successive season.
“As league leaders and European pacesetters Leinster will be keen make big statements between now and the continuation of their European title defence.
“What pleases me is that we go into the match off the back of two wins over quality opposition, the Scarlets and Toulouse, from which we can take a lot of confidence.
“As a team we must acknowledge the effort and commitment required on those days and prepare appropriately for another significant challenge this weekend at the RDS.”
Top Scorers – 2011/12 RaboDirect PRO12: Leinster – Points: Isa Nacewa 108; Tries: Ian Madigan 7; Edinburgh – Points: Greig Laidlaw 139; Tries: Tim Visser 12
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, April 17, 2009 – Edinburgh 27 Leinster 16, Murrayfield
Saturday, September 26, 2009 – Edinburgh 19 Leinster 21, Murrayfield
Sunday, May 9, 2010 – Leinster 37 Edinburgh 28, the RDS
Friday, September 24, 2010 – Edinburgh 32 Leinster 24, Murrayfield
Saturday, October 30, 2010 – Leinster 19 Edinburgh 18, the RDS
Friday, October 28, 2011 – Edinburgh 28 Leinster 36, Murrayfield
– Leinster’s only defeat in their last 23 matches in all competitions was a 23-22 reversal at home to the Ospreys in the RaboDirect PRO12 on March 23
– The Leinstermen are unbeaten in their last four games against Scottish opponents since Glasgow Warriors won at the RDS in September
– Edinburgh became the first Scottish side to reach the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup when they beat Toulouse at Murrayfield last Saturday
– Edinburgh’s only away win in the PRO12 since October 2010 was in Treviso last November. The Scotsmen have lost their last five matches against Irish provinces
– Edinburgh’s only victory over Leinster since April 2009 was a 32-24 success at Murrayfield in September 2010. They have not won on Leinster soil since a visit to Donnybrook back in November 2005