Saturday 18 November 2017

Blues to climb or fall

Leinster have to hit the high notes in Wales

Leinster have to be right on their game to get what they want from the Dragons at Rodney Parade tomorrow (kick off 4.15, S4C).

Of all the names listed on Leinster's renewal of contracts, to add to the four new names, headed by Jonathan Sexton, the one missing - Gordon D'Arcy - has become the person of most interest.

Whatever the truth about his near future, the Wexford man has been shouldered with the responsibility to shore up Leinster's midfield, beside the fast-learning Ben Te'o, in what has been rightly described as a must-win match.

At least Leinster will be armed with knowledge of how all of those above them will have fared by this evening.

In one way, it doesn't really matter because they need at least four points, probably five against, the club sitting in ninth place.

It will take accuracy, commitment and a spine of leadership from one-to-15.


"Leadership is a massive thing when you're going away to Rodney Parade. It's a pretty tough place to go," said prop Jack McGrath.

"They beat us earlier on in the season, so there will be a lot of guys who were playing there that will be involved this weekend that are still hurting from that. It was a 21 winning streak gone," he recalled.

"It is a bit of a cauldron over there. They're pretty tough to beat.

"They've six losing bonus points. They're always pretty tight to the teams whenever they do lose."

The journey to this part of Wales has never been the most appealing prospect.

The thought of making their way home with the top four out of reach should be enough to concentrate minds.

Besides, there is so much at stake for Dave Kearney (as Fergus McFadden follows his return-to-play protocols), Zane Kirchner, Eoin Reddan, Jack McGrath, Richardt Strauss and Mike McCarthy.

The search for and discovery of tries will be critical to Leinster's confidence moving on to Toulon in The Champions Cup semi-final next week.

The honour of playing at home can be a powerful tool for The Men from Gwent.

For so long, it has been just about their only guiding force as, like Connacht, they have never been able to challenge for the top four.


Their coach Lyn Jones has shown full and proper respect for The PRO12 by bringing back Wales number eight Toby Faletau in what is a stronger 15 than the one that earned them a Challenge Cup semi-final place last weekend.

"We've got to use Leinster in a five-day turnaround as a really good training session, incorporating it in our preparation for Edinburgh," Jones said.

"European rugby is nice and we will think about that next week but now it's about Leinster and we are not in the position where we can rest players. I've no doubt that Leinster will be targeting this game.

"We have got to be right on top of our game. I don't foresee any rested players for Leinster because they have got a lot to play for.

"It's going to be a real humdinger and a good test for us to see where we are against a quality outfit."

Dragons: J Tovey, T Prydie, T Morgan, J Dixon, H Amos; D Jones, J Evans; P Price, R Thomas (capt), B Harris, J Thomas, C Hill, N Crosswell, N Cudd, T Faletau.

Leinster: Z Kirchner; D Fanning, B Te'o, G D'Arcy, D Kearney; J Gopperth, E Reddan; J McGrath, R Strauss, M Moore, M McCarthy, B Marshall, D Ryan, S Jennings (capt), J Conan.

Verdict: Leinster

pro12: dragons v leinster

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