Round 4 and Leinster are back at the RDS to face Edinburgh. This weekend’s opponents come into this game having won just one of their three opening games of the season, while Leinster have two wins from three. Edinburgh look strong and capable of taking on big teams and causing upsets so it’ll be a tough game for Leinster, and of course Edinburgh. Well, at least for the first half anyway!
After last weekend’s performance against Dragons, it’s clear that Leinster are finding their best form again and will be looking to build on that. I expect to see more slick training ground moves and more of that rock solid defence from the boys in blue. Edinburgh have been showing some glimpses of really great attacking rugby recently and will be focused on building momentum in this area of their game which got to the semi final qualifying round of last season’s Pro14.
Edinburgh has traditionally been a tricky opponent for Leinster, they’re always big tussles and they are by no means an easy win for Leinster, after all Edinburgh beat us away last season so they know how to get the better of the champions (it never gets old using the champions tag!!).
Here’s the team sheet Cullen has selected:
15. Jordan Larmour (24)
14. Fergus McFadden (171)
13. Garry Ringrose (51)
12. Robbie Henshaw (26)
11. James Lowe (14)
10. Johnny Sexton (149) CAPTAIN
9. Luke McGrath (97)
1. Cian Healy (192)
2. James Tracy (68)
3. Michael Bent (107)
4. Devin Toner (219)
5. James Ryan (16)
6. Max Deegan (24)
7. Josh van der Flier (61)
8. Jack Conan (76)
16. Seán Cronin (155)
17. Peter Dooley (50)
18. Tadhg Furlong (86)
19. Mick Kearney (37)
20. Dan Leavy (54)
21. Jamison Gibson-Park (54)
22. Ross Byrne (51)
23. Joe Tomane (3)
This is by far Leinster’s strongest team selection so far this season. It’s a real showing of intent from Cullen as he knows that the champions are going to be major targets, so they need to put out strong teams throughout this campaign. Also, with the Heineken Cup (we can start calling it that again now can’t we?), Cullen knows he needs to start getting the squad prepared for the big Euro games.
The rotation of the squad has been genius from Cullen so far, he has such a great eye for talent and matching experience and youth to create unlikely combinations that end up flourishing.
Look at that 9-15 selection and ask yourself where the weaknesses are! It’s incredibly strong, each player an ideal starter any day of the week, and quickly becoming a tried and tested lineup. I get very excited every time I see Larmour and Lowe on the same team sheet, this pair have developed a great partnership and have put together some explosive combinations over the last few months. I’m certain that we’ll see more of that this today, I can’t wait!! My cheeky prediction is that Larmour will score the first try and the lead will not be lost at that point.
Today we’ll see Sexton winning his 150th cap and also the return of Dan Leavy for his first game of the new season. Max Deegan has been unlucky in my opinion for not getting more game time, I think he’s such an important player for Leinster and always delivers. He single handedly poached the ball from Munster in the last play of the Pro14 semi last season and it’s not the first time he’s stolen ball from opposition at crucial moments. Connacht at RDS last season is another key example, when the opposition were looking for a penalty after the clock went dead to win the match, Deegan towered in over the ball and snatched it to end the game!
Overall, this match day squad is formidable and will take a huge effort from Richard Cockerill’s side to defeat.
Where the game will be won.
With Leinster being at home and selecting a very strong team, whether it’s key their key game plan or not, Edinburgh will be forced to defend for large periods of the game.
It’s one of those games where you kind of expect a certain shape and result from the match. A month or two ago, I went to the cinema to see the new Mission Impossible movie. There was lots of action, thrills and spills, and some outrageous stunts. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie but I knew going in what to expect and ultimately that I was going to enjoy the film. Sure it had everything I enjoy, a great plot, tons of action and an adventure where you see the lead save the day.
This is pretty much how I envisage Leinster’s game against Edinburgh going; plenty of action, thrilling performances by the leading men and a happy ending resulting with a righteous victor. Even though I know what to expect from this match, it won’t spoil the excitement of watching the spectacle unfold. Sounds cocky but with a team selection like Leinster’s, it’s practice to feel confident!
Unlike the movie that I recently went to see, I don’t see Leinster’s chance of winning this match being a mission impossible. I expect another thriller at the RDS, it won’t be an instant Cruise to victory, but early into the second half the boys in blue will shift up a gear and secure another big home win and a bonus point for good measure!
Leinster 38 – Edinburgh 18
Match day result: Leinster 31 – Edinburgh 7