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RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Leinster v Edinburgh

RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Leinster v Edinburgh

Edinburgh return to Dublin this weekend for the first time since their Heineken Cup semi-final reversal at the hands of Ulster last April. Hosts Leinster will be no mood to be charitable as they chase their third straight RaboDirect PRO12 win.

RABODIRECT PRO12: Saturday, September 22

LEINSTER (6th) v EDINBURGH (3rd), the RDS, 6.15pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC ALBA)

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Team News: The Leinster team to face Edinburgh in Saturday evening’s RaboDirect PRO12 match at the RDS has been named.

Leo Cullen skippers a Leinster line-up which shows several changes to the side that beat Benetton Treviso away last weekend.

Up front, Sean Cronin comes into the front row in place of Richardt Strauss. He will line up alongside international colleagues Cian Healy – making his 98th Leinster appearance – and Mike Ross.

Cullen partners Tom Denton, who will make his home debut for the province in the second row, with Jamie Heaslip, Shane Jennings and Kevin McLaughlin continuing in the back row.

Gordon D’Arcy returns to make his first start of the season, lining up in thee centre alongside Brian O’Driscoll who scored his 55th career try for the province against Treviso.

O’Driscoll now lies one ahead of D’Arcy in third place on Leinster’s all-time top try scorers’ list, and four behind Denis Hickie’s tally of 59 tries. Shane Horgan leads the way with 71 tries.

Isa Nacewa returns to the starting line-up, combining again in the back-three with wingers Fionn Carr and Andrew Conway.

Jonathan Sexton’s 14-point haul in Italy pushed him through the 800-point mark for Leinster (808 points). The out-half will make his 94th provincial appearance on Saturday, partnering Eoin Reddan at half-back.

Saturday’s game marks the province’s annual ‘Kids Takeover’ where younger supporters get the chance to be involved in the running of matchday.

Amongst lots of other events there will be 15 mascots leading the team out, a lucky supporter reading out the teams, the chance to make the presentation of the match ball and much more around the province.

Ticket sales have passed the 16,400 mark and are still on sale online here. They are also available from the Leinster Rugby Store (Donnybrook) and Spar (Donnybrook) as well as Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh boss Michael Bradley says a blend of confidence and excitement are the overriding emotions as the Scottish club prepare to face the three-time Heineken Cup champions.

The teams go into this match with a similar two-from-three record, each losing their RaboDirect PRO12 opener before adjusting their fortunes by putting over 40 points past their opponents at home and needing a last-minute drop goal to earn success on the road.

Bradley has made three changes to the side that put five tries past Zebre at Murrayfield last weekend, taking the opportunity to rest try-scoring machine Tim Visser with Tom Brown now back to full fitness.

In the pack, the return of prop Geoff Cross and flanker Roddy Grant completes the changes to the starting line-up.

A talented quartet of youngsters are set for their first competitive outings of the season from the replacements bench – Robin Hislop, Robert McAlpine, Harry Leonard and Dougie Fife.

LEINSTER: Isa Nacewa; Andrew Conway, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Fionn Carr; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen (capt), Tom Denton, Kevin McLaughlin, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Tom Sexton, Heinke van der Merwe, Jamie Hagan, Devin Toner, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Brendan Macken.

EDINBURGH: Greig Tonks; Lee Jones, Nick De Luca, Matt Scott, Tom Brown; Greig Laidlaw (capt), Richie Rees; John Yapp, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Grant Gilchrist, Sean Cox, Stuart McInally, Roddy Grant, Netani Talei.

Replacements: Andy Titterrell, Robin Hislop, Willem Nel, Robert McAlpine, Dimitri Basilaia, Chris Leck, Harry Leonard, Dougie Fife.

Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Simon McDowell, Richard Kerr (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/12; Draw: 33/1; Edinburgh to win: 6/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Leo Cullen (Leinster) – “Neil Back (the new Edinburgh forwards coach) is very sharp around the breakdown. He was at Leicester initially as the defence coach (when I was there), working in conjunction with Paddy Howard. Richard Cockerill was doing the set piece with the forwards.

“The way Leicester play, the environment he (Back) was immersed in for many years, there is such an emphasis on the set piece, strong driving mauls.

“Backy has been around. He’s been head coach at Leeds Carnegie, spent time in Coventry as head coach (to Rugby Lions). He has plenty of experience, both from a coaching and playing point of view.

“I am very impressed by Edinburgh with what I’ve seen of them so far this season. It is, maybe, a shift in mindset away from how they have traditionally played in the past.

“There is more structure to the way they play now. They want to take teams on physically up front.”

Michael Bradley (Edinburgh) – “Leinster have consistently been the in-form side in northern Hemisphere rugby, winning three Heineken Cups and finishing in the top three of the RaboDirect PRO12 for the past eight years, narrowly missing out on the league title at the RDS last season.

“They’re a quality side through and through and because of that, our players will find this game in Dublin an exciting challenge.

“I’ve been impressed by the willingness to be meticulous in our preparations and go the extra mile this season. We will be well-prepared to face Leinster this weekend.”

Top Scorers – 2012/13 RaboDirect PRO12: Leinster – Points: Ian Madigan 33; Tries: Devin Toner, Ian Madigan, Andrew Conway, Ben Marshall, Shane Jennings, Fionn Carr, Brendan Macken, Brian O’Driscoll 1 each; Edinburgh – Points: Greig Laidlaw 30; Tries: Tim Visser 6


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
Friday, April 13, 2012 – Leinster 54 Edinburgh 13, the RDS


– Leinster have secured back-to-back victories in the RaboDirect PRO12, although they had Jonathan Sexton to thank for their 19-18 success in Treviso last Saturday, the out-half kicking the winning drop goal with time almost up

– The Leinstermen are undefeated in their last six clashes with Scottish sides in all competitions

– Edinburgh have also been victorious in their last two fixtures, against the Cardiff Blues and Zebre

– The Scottish club have not won three in-a-row in the league since October 2010. Edinburgh have lost their last eight encounters with Irish provinces

– Leinster have won five of their last six matches against Edinburgh, while the only Scottish side to beat Leinster in Dublin since Edinburgh did so at Donnybrook in 2005 was Glasgow Warriors twelve months ago