Southern Kings v Leinster preview

SK v L

Leinster are due to make history tomorrow as they will travel to South Africa take on the first team outside of Europe in the Pro14.

It’s been a bit of a tricky week for Leinster in terms of their pre match preparations. Firstly, they’ve had to take a long flight over to South Africa with a limited squad of 28 players. Secondly, someone at Leinster Rugby failed to do their homework about the new visa situation in South Africa, resulting in Isa Nacewa and Jamison Gibson Park being denied entry. The two players have subsequently gone back to Dublin to get their visas sorted out and will rejoin the Leinster squad in South Africa on Sunday. Leo Cullen also mentioned that this has not impacted preparations for this weekend as both players were not considered for selection against Southern Kings. This would lead me to believe that they are earmarked to play the Cheetahs next Friday.

Obviously, it’s difficult to predict how this game will play out as we have never played a South African team before. However, we can gain some insight into how Southern Kings have performed so far against other opposition. The result of which is dire for the South African side. They got hammered in the first two rounds of the new Pro14, but you could be pretty sure that they will be a different animal at home. This team love to play open rugby and try to deploy a very expansive style so Leinster’s defense is surely to be tested regularly throughout the 80 minutes. Southern Kings do have a strong defense but very much like the Italians sides, they seem susceptible to being broken down in the latter stages and show a lot of cracks and spaces for attackers after some fatigue starts to set in.

Leinster are without a lot of big name talent for this weekend. The likes of Heaslip, Sexton, Sean O’Brien, Ringrose, Toner, Fardy, Rob Kearney, and the list goes on, are all either injured or are being rest. However, the team selection from Leinster is simply incredible despite so many absent big guns:

15. Joey Carbery
14. Adam Byrne
13. Rory O’Loughlin
12. Noel Reid
11. Dave Kearney
10. Ross Byrne
9. Luke McGrath
1. Ed Byrne
2. Seán Cronin
3. Andrew Porter
4. Ross Molony
5. James Ryan
6. Rhys Ruddock CAPTAIN
7. Jordi Murphy
8. Jack Conan

16. James Tracy
17. Cian Healy
18. Michael Bent
19. Mick Kearney
20. Josh van der Flier
21. Nick McCarthy
22. Cathal Marsh
23. Jordan Larmour

As you can see, the team is very much a B side and you would be forgiven for initially thinking that this team lacks experience, but the incredible thing is there are 15 internationals in the team! 15 INTERNATIONALS!! Tons of youth but tons of very talented youth. It’s great to note that Jordi Murphy is back in the mix following a long period on the sideslines through injury. His last competitive game was against the All Blacks (the one that we won) last October where he scored the opening try for Ireland. Also, Dave Kearney is back which is great to see. He’s been very unlucky with injuries over the last 12 months. Hopefully he will get a good string of games under his belt and maybe get back into Ireland contention for the 6 Nations!

From 9-15, we have a very slick and talented set of backs. Each of these players are try scores and will be very potent in attack.
6-8 are also worth pointing out. Rudduck, Murphy and Conan are excellent ball carriers and should have a high influence on the pack. Conan is probably Leinster’s best player at the moment, the consistency in his performances has been amazing and I can’t think of a game where he hasn’t had a very positive impact on the result. The only other player who comes close is Sean Cronin who is also starting. His try against Cardiff last week was breath taking, his power to get through the tackle and then sprint half the length of the field unopposed is becoming his trademark. I sometimes wonder could he be utilised as a winger or a center due to his immense power and pace.
Tracy, Healy and Van der Flier on the bench is great to see, there’s tons of talent there to spring into action when we need it. All in all, I think on paper, this team is brimming with explosive talent and should be able to put out a very impressive performance tomorrow.

Where the game will be won
As the Southern Kings are keen on exploiting defensive frailties and trying quick ball tactics to get over the line, defense will be key for Leinster. Leaking tries will only invigorate this team and I trust that Leinster will be wary of that attacking threat. Leinster have not yet conceded any tries this season so it appears that our defensive structures are rock solid. Leinster will need to feel their way into this match as there is a lot of unknowns. Patience will be crucial to scoring tries and I’d like to see some of that excellent counter attacking play from Leinster which proved fatal to Cardiff last week. Leinster defended a lot in that match and didn’t try to push things too hard. But you could see that they had patience and an eagle eye to wait for half a gap, and they were through. More of this will be required this weekend.

Prediction
This Leinster selection is certainly not a tried and tested one but as I mentioned earlier, it is a very potent and incredibly talented one. I can’t find any weak links in the team and it’s a massive credit to the huge strength in depth at Leinster Rugby. I think the Southern Kings will test this young team’s nerves and try to rattle them for a good portion of the first half. I can see the home side taking an early lead and causing some concern for us supporters watching at home! But I think once Leinster settle down and implement their attacking game plan, we should start to see some tries.

Southern Kings 21, Leinster 32

4 thoughts on “Southern Kings v Leinster preview

    • I think it’s a combination of both. I’m predicting a bonus point win however but I have a feeling that it may take the first for Leinster to properly find their feet. In that time, we may leak a couple of soft tries or a few silly penalties.

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