Leinster v Edinburgh – Preview

Lowe

While the “big guns” are off in Japan battling it out for a Quarter Final place in the World Cup, Leinster’s pool of upcoming talent back home is both showing immense skill, and growing week by week! Whether you’ve been singing the praises of Ronan Kelleher, Harry Byrne, Hugo Keenan etc., the “young guns” are showing so much promise, even Leo Cullen wants the returning Irish Internationals to work for the places when back at training in UCD next month.

Two games into the new season and it’s two bonus point wins for the boys in blue. It’s a great start given the opposition we’ve faced. This weekend, it’s another tough game at the RDS against Edinburgh who also have two wins from two. They have been a bit of a banana skin for Leinster over the last few years and will have learned how to test the Leinster defense.

After defeating Zebre at home in round 1 and then Cardiff away in Round 2, Edinburgh will be coming into this fixture with confidence and momentum. They have a squad of young players following omission of key plays at the World Cup, but these lads still pack quite a punch and look to be setting themselves up as contenders for top 4 qualification at the end of the regular season. Leinster too come into this game on the back of a victory away to Treviso and then a massive 8 try hammering of Ospreys at the RDS last weekend. The spirit and hunger shown by the young lads at Leinster has been very heartening and you would quickly forget that they are the perceived B team. Below is the team Leo and Co. have selected for tomorrow evening’s match:

15. Hugo Keenan (7)
14. Dave Kearney (137)
13. Rory O’Loughlin (63)
12. Joe Tomane (15)
11. James Lowe (31)
10. Ross Byrne (73)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (72)
1. Peter Dooley (63)
2. Rónan Kelleher (4)
3. Michael Bent (126)
4. Devin Toner (233)
5. Scott Fardy (45) CAPTAIN 
6. Max Deegan (48)
7. Scott Penny (6)
8. Caelan Doris (18)

16. James Tracy (94)
17. Michael Milne (2)
18. Vakh Abdaladze (9)
19. Ross Molony (84)
20. Josh Murphy (23)
21. Rowan Osborne (1)
22. Harry Byrne (2)
23. Jimmy O’Brien (8)

The backs are very potent; Hugo Keenan retains the full back spot after a strong attacking and defensive display last week. Dave Kearney, the hat trick hero from round 1, is back in the fray and will cause more disruption and create mayhem for Edinburgh defenders on the left wing. The centre partnership is comprised of Rory O’Loughlin and Joe Tomane, at 13 and 12 respectively. O’Loughlin looks to be a lot more comfortable in the centre than on the wing, but if required, his versatility to play on both wings makes his importance in the squad even more valuable. Tomane is finally finding his feet and looks a lot more confident. His defensive performances have been very strong, and he’s also getting some scores on the board too which is always great to see! On the right wing, we have James Lowe, probably the most consistent and hard working player in the squad right now. He is almost cemented his place spot for the 11 jersey and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we see him in the Irish squad next year. The half backs are Ross Byrne and Jamison Gibson-Park. Byrne has been very unlucky not to have been included in the Irish squad, but the undoubted disappointment that I’m sure he’s been facing has not impacted his performances in blue. He has been marshaling the team with high effectiveness and is back to showing off that sniper precision from his cross field kicks. Ireland’s loss has been certainly Leinster’s gain on that front! Peter Dooley has been in great form and comes in alongside Ronan Kelleher who scored a hat trick in his debut at Hooker last weekend (Sean Cronin, eat your heart out!!). From 3-8, we have power players a plenty in Bent, Toner, Fardy, Deegan, Penny and Doris. Another player to lose out to Irish duty at the World Cup has been Devin Toner and I think it’s clear he’s been missed at times. Especially against Japan, Ireland was like a printer, it needed Toner! And with the player they sent on tour in his place, I’d be disinKleyned to agree with Schmidt’s decision on that one! Seriously though, Toner another player that must be gutted to not be over in Japan with his International brethren, but he’s fronted up to that well by putting out some great performances with the boys in blue regardless.
On the bench, the most notable of selections are Michael Milne and Harry Byrne. Both only new to the Leinster squad this season and already giving Cullen selection headaches given their excellent performances in the scrum and at out half respectively. Rowan Osbourne is also due to run out for his second cap too, it’ll be interesting to see how he goes. All in all, a very strong Leinster team to take on a spirited and ambitious Edinburgh.

Where the game will be won
Edinburgh like to play with width and give their wingers as much freedom to express themselves. This means forward dominance will be key where power plays will be unleashed to open up space out wide. Lowe and Kearney will be tested in this regard. Leinster will need to be watchful of this and if they can manage to front up in the pack and assert their own dominance in the game, the serious attacking threats out wide will be limited.

Prediction
I think a fair few tries will be scored tomorrow, probably 6 or 7. There will be a major battle in the centre of the field with both packs going hell for leather in order to unleash their attacking strength out wide. I feel that given the strength and international experience in the starting 15 for Leinster, I think they’ll be too strong for Edinburgh. Although we may have a good aul tussle during the first half, I reckon Leinster will pull away towards the end of the first half and won lose the lead from there.
Cheeky prediction is that Kearney will start the scoring early on in the first half.

Leinster 34 Edinburgh 16

Match Result: Leinster 40 Edinburgh 14

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