Leinster will be keen to erase memories of last weekend’s collapse to the Scarlets when they entertain another Welsh region, the Newport Gwent Dragons, at the RDS tonight.
RABODIRECT PRO12: Saturday, September 8
LEINSTER (11th) v NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS (3rd), the RDS, 6.15pm (live RTÉ Two)
Team News: The Leinster team to face the Newport Gwent Dragons in Saturday evening’s RaboDirect PRO12 encounter at the RDS has been named.
There are home debuts for forward duo Quinn Roux and Academy back rower Ben Marshall for the visit of the Welsh side, who sit top of the table.
Former Stormers lock Roux partners skipper Leo Cullen, while former St. Andrew’s College student Marshall, who made his debut for the province away to Ulster in December 2010, comes into the back row alongside Shane Jennings and number 8 Leo Auva’a.
Ireland hooker Sean Cronin is included in the front row alongside Jamie Hagan and Jack McGrath. In the absence of the injured Isaac Boss, John Cooney will link up with Ian Madigan at half-back.
The rest of the largely fledgling backline that started last weekend’s game in Llanelli – aside from the experienced Isa Nacewa who will make his 104th Leinster appearance – is set to continue.
Devin Toner, the scorer of Leinster’s first try against the Scarlets, has been named on the replacements bench along with South African prop Heinke van der Merwe.
Commenting on the latest injuries picked up in the squad, Joe Schmidt said: “Dominic Ryan has ruptured the ligament in front on the top of his ankle and he will be out of play for between 10 to 12 weeks.
“Isaac Boss has done a fair bit of damage to the medial ligament in his elbow and he will be out for between six and eight weeks.
“Aaron Dundon went to the doctor to get stitches over the eye and complained that his foot was sore. It (came to light) he has a fairly severe mid-foot sprain and he will be out for eight to ten weeks.”
Meanwhile, flanker Jevon Groves will lead the men of Gwent for the first time as they make the trip across to Dublin.
Although this is his first outing as Dragons captain, Groves is no stranger to the position having captained the Wales Sevens team to the Plate semi-finals during the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Fellow back rower and regional captain Lewis Evans makes his return from injury from the bench, while former Munter prop Tim Ryan will be looking to start his competitive career at the Dragons as a replacement.
With an unchanged back-line from their opening 37-6 victory over Zebre, head coach Darren Edwards has rung the changes in the forwards with Ian Nimmo, Toby Faletau and Groves the only survivors from last weekend’s starting line-up.
LEINSTER: Isa Nacewa; Andrew Conway, Brendan Macken, Noel Reid, Fionn Carr; Ian Madigan, John Cooney; Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Jamie Hagan, Leo Cullen (capt), Quinn Roux, Ben Marshall, Shane Jennings, Leo Auva’a.
Replacements: Tom Sexton, Heinke van der Merwe, Martin Moore, Devin Toner, Jordi Murphy, Luke McGrath, Colm O’Shea, Darren Hudson.
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS: Dan Evans; Will Harries, Pat Leach, Andy Tuilagi, Tom Prydie; Steffan Jones; Jonathan Evans; Nathan Williams, Sam Parry, Nathan Buck, Ian Nimmo, Adam Jones, Hywel Stoddart, Jevon Groves (capt), Toby Faletau.
Replacements: Hugh Gustafson, Aaron Coundley, Tim Ryan, Lewis Evans, Tom Brown, Liam Davies, Ashley Smith, Hallam Amos.
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Mark Patton, Jonathan Peak (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Alan Rogan (Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/8; Draw: 25/1; Newport Gwent Dragons to win: 5/1
Pre-Match Quotes: Joe Schmidt (Leinster) – “Unfortunately we have a few more long-term injuries than we would have liked. It puts pressure on our resources but at the same time it offers an opportunity while.
“Whilst opportunities weren’t taken as well as they should have been last week hopefully we can turn that around this Saturday. There’s always more pressure on the back of a defeat, particularly the nature of that defeat.
“The players are very aware of that and the coaching staff is, but at the same time there is an expectation from our supporters that a performance like last week will not be repeated this week.
“I think there’s very much an internal expectation that it won’t be repeated either. The players love playing at the RDS, they like the atmosphere that is created there which is all down to the supporters and they feel a debt to the supporters.”
Darren Edwards (Newport Gwent Dragons) – “The European champions, playing at home, with a backlash, is a real challenge for us. It is an exciting place to go and we have had particularly good games out there but haven’t come away with any sort of results.
“There is an opportunity and we have to be realistic that we do have a chance of beating Leinster, but let’s not take away from a huge challenge.
“It’s great to come in after the weekend and be top of the table but we are realistic and we did all we could and won our first game (against Zebre).
“It’s a great start for us. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves for that game and rightly so. We started our season with a home game and we needed to make a statement.”
Top Scorers – 2012/13 RaboDirect PRO12: Leinster – Points: Ian Madigan 15; Tries: Devin Toner, Ian Madigan 1 each; Newport Gwent Dragons – Points: Tom Prydie 14; Tries: Dan Evans 2
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Saturday, September 12, 2009 – Leinster 23 Newport Gwent Dragons 14, the RDS
Sunday, December 6, 2009 – Newport Gwent Dragons 30 Leinster 14, Rodney Parade
Friday, November 19, 2010 – Leinster 27 Newport Gwent Dragons 6, the RDS
Sunday, March 27, 2011 – Newport Gwent Dragons 16 Leinster 26, Rodney Parade
Friday, September 9, 2011 – Leinster 31 Newport Gwent Dragons 10, the RDS
Saturday, May 5, 2012 – Newport Gwent Dragons 18 Leinster 22, Rodney Parade
– Leinster have now slipped to back-to-back defeats in the RaboDirect PRO12. They have not lost three in-a-row in the competition since October 2008
– The only visiting team to have beaten the Leinstermen at the RDS in any competition in the last three years, other than Ospreys, was Glasgow Warriors in September 2011
– The Newport Gwent Dragons topped the RaboDirect PRO12 table after round 1, courtesy of their bonus point win over newcomers Zebre
– The Welsh region have three times before led the league after one week (2005, 2007 and 2008) and on all three occasions have lost in round 2 and surrendered top spot
– The men of Gwent have won just one of their last dozen encounters with Irish provinces, winning 22-9 at home to Ulster in September 2011
– The Dragons’ lone victory in Ireland since 2004 came at Ulster in September 2008
– Leinster have taken the last four clashes with the Newport Gwent Dragons, who have never beaten Leinster away