Cheetahs v Leinster – Preview


Following the visa issues last week, Leinster have had another minor interruption to their preparation to face the second of the South African teams tomorrow. Cian Healy was kicked off a flight due to using his laptop before takeoff!! He however caught the next flight and rejoined his team mates for training. I’m sure Cullen wasn’t happy about this but of course, the Irish media were very “Cian” to plaster it all over their respective websites.

Last week’s first mini tour game against Southern Kings was highly entertaining and it was great to see the young players absorb so much pressure and still come out on top, with a bonus point may I add. I have a feeling as this season progresses, a lot of these “B” team players will be considered first choice big guns for every game. After last week’s performance, there is nothing inexperienced about this squad and the strength in depth is getting more immense as the weeks go by. Three wins out of three, coupled with three bonus points has put us two points clear at the top of the table. Remember Nick McCarthy last season? He played a few games but didn’t truely get on our radar until this season where he’s been lighting up the stage as another potential house hold name at scrum half.
Leinster could not have asked for a better start to the season. When we think back to 2010-2014, Leinster generally lost 2 out of 3 of their first games of the season. This is a thing of the past and Leinster are very much laying down a big marker for 2017/18. There are very few chinks to the armour in either attack or defense in this squad, in fact, the cohesion and overall strength of this group of players appears to be getting stronger and stronger week on week. Long may it continue and I think it’s safe to say that we can start dreaming of a fourth star and perhaps a Pro14 title to go with it again! Sound familiar? Well we wont dwell too much on last season, but the collective mentality issue within this team looks to have been fixed, you can see the huge intent and ambition from this squad already, and it’s only September! This was not so clearly evident at this stage of the season last year.

There are a number of changes to the team selection that was chosen last week, but the team is quite similarly arranged in terms of a perfect balance of youth and experience between the starting 15 and the bench. Below is the team Leo Cullen has selected:

15. Joey Carbery
14. Dave Kearney
13. Noel Reid
12. Isa Nacewa CAPTAIN
11. Barry Daly
10. Ross Byrne
9. Jamison Gibson-Park
1. Cian Healy
2. James Tracy
3. Michael Bent
4. Ross Molony
5. Mick Kearney
6. Jordi Murphy
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jack Conan

16. Seán Cronin
17. Peter Dooley
18. Andrew Porter
19. Rhys Ruddock
20. Max Deegan
21. Nick McCarthy
22. Cathal Marsh
23. Rory O’Loughlin

Visa Isa Nacewa comes back into the fold and takes on the captaincy role once more while our captain from last week, Rhys Ruddock, is moved to the bench. 15 to 9 is a lethal selection for which will surely cause a lot of concern for the Cheetahs. I like seeing Barry Daly come back on the wing, he’s such a great player and scored an excellent try against the Kings last week, the one where he performed an incredible aerial acrobatic challenge to collect a fantastic cross field kick from Ross Byrne. Don’t be surprised if he does the same again tomorrow and score a try for us. Jack Conan will be joined by Josh van der Flier in the pack, these two guys work extremely well together and will lead this pack up the field again. Jordi Murphy will hopefully provide the clear-out master class that he displayed last week, while Cian Healy will close his laptop and go on the rampage with the support of Michael Bent and James Tracy. No one will be kicking him out of the scrum!

There are some really great lads ready to come on from the bench too. Rory O’Loughlin, Sean Cronin and Nick McCarthy in particular are ones to look out for, I expect big performances from them once they’re unleashed into the fray of battle.

The Cheetahs will of course provide a much stiffer contest than the Southern Kings did. Like Leinster, they too recorded a bonus point victory last weekend, against Zebre. However, they did concede 39 points to the Italian side on their way to a 54-39 win. The Cheetahs are bigger and faster than the Kings and will be more accustomed to the altitude (approx 14.000 feet above sea level) and the heat (approx. 30 degrees Celsius) than us. Girvan Dempsey mentioned earlier in the week that the squad has been training at this altitude since they landed and felt no ill affects. So it will be interesting to see how they handle it after the Irish team appeared to struggle at the same stadium during the SA tour last Summer. However, this is Leinster, a completely different class altogether, am I right? 😉

Where the game will be won
Momentum is very important in sport and generally creates stronger and stronger performances. Leinster has been putting out great performances over the last few weeks and they’ve led to maximum points. This momentum should keep the spirits and confidence levels high within the Leinster camp and hopefully spur them on to potentially rack up another bonus point win away from home. Before I get ahead of myself, it’s certainly going to be a tough challenge for Leinster to do that, after-all the Cheetahs play a very fast, open and physical game. Leinster will need to stay focused on the basics and like last week, have patience and create cracks in the Cheetahs defense before pouncing on them. Due to the Cheetahs known attacking flair, our defense is going to have to play to huge role in the first half of this match, very much like last week. But I think the confidence derived from our momentum so far this season will be the winning of the match, as long as the confidence doesn’t turn into cockiness.
Cheetahs will undoubtedly control the ball as much as they can throughout this match and will probe our defensive structures to the maximum. Leinster will need to be switched on from the first minute to negate that threat.

I don’t see Leinster losing this match but it’s tricky to identify by how many points they will come out on top. As mentioned earlier, the team selection from 15 to 9 is going to cause a lot of problems for the Cheetahs, especially towards the end of the first half. So too with Nacewa pulling the strings and Conan helping to build front foot rugby for us, I strongly feel that a bonus point is on the cards. Zebre scored 39 points against them last week, albeit they lost, but it shows that the Cheetahs defense is weak. Barry Daly, Isa Nacewa, Dave Kearney, Jack Conan and Joey Carbery will exploit that all day long. I’m going to get ahead of my self here and go with a big win for the boys in blue. After-all, the Cheetahs are going head to head with Lions!

Cheetahs 15 – Leinster 36

One thought on “Cheetahs v Leinster – Preview

  1. Nice write-up, love the Visa pun! Actually good to see the puns back in general. I think the lads should easily win this one, as you say, if Zebre can sneak in so many tries you’d expect Leinster to do some serious damage. C’mon the lads! Oh, and the Munster game should be good, especially if they loose to Glasgow;)

    Liked by 1 person

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