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Leinster Rugby vs Ospreys
Pro14 Round 9 Conference B
RDS Arena, Dublin
Friday, 23rd November 2018, 17:35

TV: Live on Eir Sports/TG4

Leinster are back after a three week break.

With the autumn international series concluding on Saturday, Leinster take on the Ospreys severely stretched for playing resources. Between the players needed for the USA game and the players who are deservedly rested after beating New Zealand plus the number of injuries that have sprung up, Leinster are missing close to 25 players. However on the bright side it will mean that several of the young players who have excelled recently in the Celtic Cup win will get their chance.

Leinster's last outing was a bizarre match that will probably only be remembered for the Kings almost farcically poor discipline which led to them suffering four yellow cards, three in the first half alone. Leinster took advantage of the first half indiscipline to lead 33-12 at half-time but in a sloppy second half they only scored five more points to leave the final score at 38-31. However it was an awkward trip at a less than ideal time so they'll take the win and move on.

They face a far tougher proposition tomorrow evening though against a resurgent Ospreys. The three time champions used to being the standard bearers in the league for Wales but they had a miserable time of it last season. They failed to make the league knock-out stages and lost a play-off with Ulster to qualify for the Heineken Champions Cup.

But former Ireland international and Ulster coach Allen Clarke seems to have steadied the ship again, no doubt aided by the signing of some quality international players like George North and Scott Williams. They've won five games so far to sit one point behind Munster in conference A. Clarke has named a team showing five changes from the side that lost to Glasgow last time out. In the backs James Hook comes in to start at fullback and Johnny Kotze comes in to make his debut at inside centre. In the pack Tom Botha and Giorgi Nemsadze come into the tight five and James King moves to number eight where he plays alongside new openside Sam Cross and skipper Ollie Cracknell.

Leinster coach Leo Cullen has named academy player Hugo Keenan at full back for his first start with Irish international Adam Byrne on the right wing and James Lowe on the left. In the centre Conor O'Brien shifts to the outside channel and Noel Reid will line up on the inside. Nick McCarthy and Ciaran Frawley form a new half back pairing. In the pack Peter Dooley and Michael Bent start at prop with James Tracy at hooker. Ross Molony is joined in the second row by captain Scott Fardy. At openside flanker 19 year old Scott Penny makes his senior debut having impressed in the victorious Celtic Cup campaign scoring eight tries across the seven games.He is joined in the back row by Josh Murphy at six and Caelan Doris at eight. There is also the possibility for two further senior debuts with Jimmy O'Brien and Jack Kelly named amongst the replacements.

It's a pretty callow Leinster lineup, especially in the backs where they'll lean heavily on the experience of Reid and Lowe but Ospreys are far from full strength as well so hopefully Leinster can find their way to a win.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Teams Hugo Keenan 15 James Hook
Adam Byrne 14 Hanno Dirksen
Conor O'Brien 13 Cory Allen
Noel Reid 12 Johnny Kotze
James Lowe 11 Keelan Giles
Ciaran Frawley 10 Sam Davies
Nick McCarthy 9 Tom Habberfield

Peter Dooley 1 Rhodri Jones
James Tracy 2 Scott Otten
Michael Bent 3 Tom Botha
Ross Molony 4 Giorgi Nemsadze
Scott Fardy (C) 5 Lloyd Ashley
Josh Murphy 6 Olly Cracknell (C)
Scott Penny 7 Sam Cross
Caelan Doris 8 James King

Replacements Bryan Byrne 16 Sam Parry
Ed Byrne 17 Gareth Thomas
Vakh Abdaladze 18 Alex Jeffries
Mick Kearney 19 Rob McCusker
Max Deegan 20
Will Jones
Hugh O'Sullivan 21 Matthew Aubrey
Jimmy O'Brien 22 Luke Morgan
Jack Kelly 23 Tom Williams

Not Considered
due to Injury
Will Connors,
Barry Daly,
Fergus McFadden,
Rory O'Loughlin,
Joe Tomane,
Sean O'Brien,
Robbie Henshaw

Dan Baker,
Bradley Davies,
Dan Evans,
Gheorghe Gajion,
Paul James,
Lesley Klim,
Luke Price,
Scott Williams
Officials Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR),
Assistant referees: Eddie Hogan O'Connell, Rob O'Sullivan (both IRFU),
TMO: Colin Stanley (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2018-11-22