herald

Friday 18 August 2017

Blues set to be 'bullied'

Ross expects physical clash as Henshaw is kept on the bench

Leinster's Ross Molony in action during squad training.
Leinster's Ross Molony in action during squad training.

This could just come down to whether Connacht's accuracy can make up the leeway left by the absence of Robbie Henshaw at The Sportsground this evening.

The Ireland centre is there lurking in the shadows with number 23 on his back, ready to be introduced at the drop of coach Pat Lam's hand.

This will be alright by Leinster, who are stacked with Ireland internationals, including the front row of Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Mike Ross and the granite Jamie Heaslip.

It is a measure of how far The Westerners have come that it can reasonably be argued it is more about them keeping up their standards than dragging Leinster into the trenches and suffocating them there.

However, Leinster will have to be steely in their resolve to improve on the 10-9 defeat to Connacht there last season.

The League leaders have to enter into the combat zone up front as the very basis for the rules of engagement.

Their maul has been a consistent and convincing weapon for them all season.

"Glasgow took us on in the maul last weekend. They will be looking to do the same," said Ross Molony.

Progress

The Leinster lock has progressed through the ranks, offsetting a shortage of size with his work rate and angles onto the ball allied to lineout and game intelligence.

"They'll definitely be looking to bully us, especially in The Sportsground."

Sadly, Ultan Dillane is out injured, but Quinn Roux and Aly Muldowney are a well-balanced pairing.

"Having that physicality is hugely important in the second row and playing smart as well," he said.

"It's not just all about how big you are. There's another side to that.

"There's knowing the lineout, knowing your way around the pitch and being ready for it."

Leinster will have to be on their toes in front of a full-throated home crowd which has taken delight in Connacht's skill-based surge to the summit.

"I have a lot of respect for who Leinster are and what they have achieved," stated Lam.

"There is a lot of quality right across the squad and I believe Leo (Cullen), in his first season as head coach, has done a tremendous job.

"We are expecting a pretty physical and fired up opposition.

"As a team who have history of winning at this stage of the season, it's going to take a massive collective effort from us to come out on top."

They are all ready to rumble.

Connacht: T O'Halloran; N Adeolokun, B Aki, P Robb, M Healy; AJ McGinty, K Marmion; D Buckley, T McCartney, N White, Q Roux, A Muldowney, S O'Brien, J Heenan, J Muldoon (capt).

Leinster: I Nacewa (capt); F McFadden, G Ringrose, B Te'o, L Fitzgerald; I Madigan, L McGrath; C Healy, R Strauss, T Furlong, R Molony, H Triggs, D Ryan, J van der Flier, R Ruddock.

Verdict: Leinster.

Connacht v Leinster today ko 5.15pm Live TG4/SS 1

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