Leinster v Newport Gwent Dragons match preview
Leinster will undoubtedly be smarting from the heavy loss to the Scarlets last week, and with pride to be restored and returning players like Cullen and Cronin to rely on, they will be hoping for a vastly improved display.
Their visitors, the Newport Gwent Dragons, approach this match after a high scoring performance against new boys Zebra. They will be eager for their backs produce the same form as last week, yet with four changes in their pack, it might indicate that they are travelling to the RDS without any more of an aspiration than gaining a losing bonus point.
Injuries to Boss and Strauss leave Leinster with even less experience, and when you compare the two squads, it would appear that this could be one of the best chances the Dragons have of securing a win against the Dublin based team.
Both teams are fielding an inexperienced backline, with the exception of Leinster’s Isa Nacewa, but it is likely to be the Dragons that look to run the ball. With the home sides strength again being in their forwards, they are predicted to try and play the game in close quarters, and hope their greater experience in the pack can bring home the points.
The Dragons on the other hand will be keen for quick ball and will hope their injury hit and inexperienced back row can deliver. If nothing else, it is an opportunity for their fringe players to truly step up and stake their claim on their shirt, whilst also looking to Welsh star Toby Faletau to lead the charge.
The visiting team showed last week how dangerous they could be, especially from turnover ball, but I can’t see Leinster turning in a second performance as dire as last weeks and it is unlikely the Dragons will be gifted enough possession to get the points they’ll need. I think the forwards, especially the front five, will be too strong for the Gwent region and ultimately Leinster will turn out as winners.
This match does have the potential for a shock, and the Dragons will be keen to supply it. They are currently top of the table and they won’t give up that position without a big fight.
My prediction: Leinster 19 – 13 Dragons
Leinster: 15: Isa Nacewa 14: Andrew Conway 13: Brendan Macken 12: Noel Reid 11: Fionn Carr 10: Ian Madigan 9: John Cooney 1: Jack McGrath 2: Sean Cronin 3: Jamie Hagan 4: Leo Cullen (c ) 5: Quinn Roux 6: Ben Marshall 7: Shane Jennings 8: Leo Auva’a
Replacements: 16: Tom Sexton 17: Heinke van der Merwe 18: Martin Moore 19: Devin Toner
20: Jordi Murphy 21: Luke McGrath 22: Colm O’Shea 23: Darren Hudson
Dragons: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach,12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Tom Prydie, 10 Steffan Jones; 9 Jonathan Evans; 1 Nathan Williams,2 Sam Parry, 3 Nathan Buck,4 Ian Nimmo,5 Adam Jones,6 Hywel Stoddart,7 Jevon Groves (c), 8 Toby Faletau,
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson,17 Aaron Coundley,18 Tim Ryan,19 Lewis Evans, 20 Tom Brown, 21 Liam Davies (Bedwas), 22 Ashley Smith, 23 Hallam Amos.