Tuesday 26 March 2019

Blues intend to show Italian visitors lots of respect

PRO14 League, Leinster v Treviso (Live TG4 7.35 tomorrow)

Balance: Leo Cullen
Balance: Leo Cullen
Strong: Fergus McFadden

Coach Leo Cullen has to find that balance between leaving players undercooked or overcooked as Treviso come to town for Leinster's last home match of the PRO14 League regular season at The RDS tomorrow.

The proximity of the Scarlets makes four points non-negotiable and five points necessary, although that scenario may change if Edinburgh can puncture the Welsh club this afternoon in Murrayfield.

The introduction of fresh men should lift Leinster.

"It gives us fresh energy because that's important as you go hard at these games to try and get as much as you possibly can," said the head coach.

"Treviso are a very, very difficult team to play against and they'll be pushing to try and play in Europe."

Given the respective positions of Leinster, at the top of Conference B, and Treviso in fifth, just one point behind Ulster in fourth, there is a lot more on the line than there would be in most other seasons.

The mix and match approach to last week against Zebre will continue against the better Italian club.

There will be players looking to push their argument for inclusion in the Champions Cup semi-final at the Aviva on Saturday week.

Fergus McFadden has been long enough in this racket to know you have to be on guard against complacency at this end of the season. The warning signals have been sent loud and clear that unfashionable Benetton are on an upward curve.

"You can't take them for granted," heeded the Ireland wing. "They've improved a lot and beaten some good teams away and at home.

"When we played them away, we beat them by two scores," he acknowledged.

"But it was tight for the majority of the match and we had a pretty strong team out."

The truth of that matter is Leinster dominated in Stadio Monigo at the start of December for a 17-3 lead at the break, easing away for a 36-10 bonus-point victory.

Since then, Kieran Crowley's Treviso have stayed the course to have a legitimate crack at a Champions Cup play-off for next season.

"They'll have no fear coming here, so they'll definitely be a bigger challenge then Zebre," stated McFadden.

"Obviously, in the back of our minds, we've got Scarlets next week and you're trying to manage guys' game time, not risking certain people with injuries.

"But,you also want to give them enough time so that they've got momentum going in.

"All I can say is that we're in a strong position in the conference, at the moment, after getting the five points last week. Hopefully, we can do the same this week."

PRO14 League final rounds

Sat 14: Leinster v Treviso; Edinburgh v Scarlets.

Sat 28: Connacht v Leinster; Dragons v Scarlets.

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