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Friday 24 November 2017

Leinster facing a storm in Cardiff

HERE are two clubs who could meet further on down the line in the Heineken Cup. The defending champions and the dark horses will duel tomorrow.

Cardiff have in Wales captain Sam Warburton and world-beating centre Jamie Roberts two players who could be the backbone of a club that finally delivers in the next five years.

Of course, any successful club is rooted more around the supporting cast than the lead players and there didn't seem to be too many hot prospects when Cardiff came to The RDS at the beginning of December.

However, Leinster in their pomp are, at worst, one of the top three sides in Europe. Toulouse, Leicester Tigers, Saracens and Clermont-Auvergne have all felt their wrath.

Last month, Cardiff were humbled 52-9 and six tries to none. This will be an entirely different test. The Welsh club will have all their internationals fit and fighting for places one week before travelling to London Irish in the Heineken.

Cardiff's solitary win in their last nine tests against Leinster came in this corresponding fixture last season. They have also won their last four at home, while Leinster have won nine straight in this competition.

Leinster fly-half Ian Madigan spoke about a "backlash with big players coming back in" and how "we are going to have to be at our best to win over there".

"Momentum is definitely with us heading into the new year, which is great," added Madigan, before giving way for the return of Jonathan Sexton.

The gospel according to Joe Schmidt has been spread throughout a squad that is comfortable with a regular rotation policy and a French-style early replacement strategy.

Leinster have room for failure here. They are six points clear of The Ospreys in second. The 13-match unbeaten run could be in jeopardy.

PRO12 LEAGUE

Cardiff Blues v Leinster, Cardiff City Stadium, Tomorrow (Live TG4, 6.15)

Verdict: Leinster

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