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Leinster Rugby vs Southern Kings
Pro14 Conference B, Round 16
RDS Arena, Dublin
Friday, 22nd February 2019, 19:55

TV: Live on Eir Sports

Well that wasn't the normal game against Italian opposition!

After 20 minutes it was business as usual. Leinster were cruising with a 21 point lead and the watching fans' only fear was trying to retain interest in another facile romp. However, by half-time Leinster's lead had been reduced to two points as Zebre took advantage of some lax defending to score three tries.

Leinster struck back but so did Zebre and with ten minutes to go Leinster were only four points ahead and facing a goal-line stand to keep Zebre from taking the lead. They survived and got back up the field to clinch the match with two more tries but it was a second poor performance in a row after the Scarlets match.

Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster won't be pleased and they'll have been nipping at the lads all week about keeping standards up. In truth though they'll probably get away with another poor performance tomorrow evening against the Southern Kings who've continued to be largely the league's whipping boys for the second season running conceding an average of 33 points per game.

In fairness to them they did beat both the Scottish sides at home this season and were within a score of the Cheetahs in two of their derbies. But they're basically a poor side and with the Cheetahs also floundering after a bright start last season, you really begin to wonder what the point of the South African teams in the Pro14 actually is (other than TV money!).

Last week the Kings lost 43-0 away to Munster and their coach Deon Davids has named a team in which full-back Ulrich Beyers will make his first start. Former Springbok winder Bjorn Basson and Italian international Andries Van Schalkwyk are two of the more notable names in the line-up.

For Leinster Ronan Kelleher will become the 54th Leinster player to play for the seniors this season when he makes his debut at hooker. Beside Kelleher in the front row will be Ed Byrne and Andrew Porter. Ross Molony captains the side from the second row where he will be partnered by Mick Kearney. There are no changes in the back row from last weekend with Josh Murphy, Max Deegan and Caelan Doris named once again.

Barry Daly moves from the left wing to full back this week with Fergus McFadden making a return from a hamstring injury on the right wing. James Lowe comes into the side in the number 11 jersey. In the centre Noel Reid comes in to start at inside centre with Conor O'Brien moving out one slot to number 13. Finally in the half backs, Hugh O'Sullivan starts at scrumhalf with Ross Byrne at ten.

It's hard to see any other result other than a comprehensive Leinster win.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Southern Kings
Teams Barry Daly 15 Ulrich Beyers
Fergus McFadden 14 Yaw Penxe
Conor O'Brien 13 Meli Rokoua
Noel Reid 12 Berton Klaasen
James Lowe 11 Bjorn Basson
Ross Byrne 10 Bader Pretorius
Hugh O'Sullivan 9 Sarel Pretorius

Ed Byrne 1 Alulutho Tshakweni
Ronan Kelleher 2 Michael Willemse (C)
Andrew Porter 3 De-Jay Terblanche
Ross Molony (C)
4 Stephan Greeff
Mick Kearney 5 Andries Van Schalkwyk
Josh Murphy 6 Henry Brown
Max Deegan 7 Martinus Burger
Caelan Doris 8 Ruaan Lerm

Replacements James Tracy 16 Alandre Van Rooyen
Peter Dooley 17 Schalk Ferreira
Michael Bent 18 Pieter Scholtz
Jack Dunne 19 John-Charles Astle
Scott Fardy 20
Andisa Ntsila
Paddy Patterson 21 Stefan Ungerer
Jimmy O'Brien 22 Tertius Kruger
Rory O'Loughlin 23 Masixole Banda

Not Considered
due to Injury
Will Connors,
Joe Tomane,
Nick McCarthy,
Hugo Keenan,
Dan Leavy,
Luke McGrath,
Devin Toner,
Garry Ringrose,
Dave Kearney,
Rhys Ruddock

Officials Referee: Sam Grove-White (SRU),
Assistant referees: George Clancy (IRFU), Ian Kenny (SRU),
TMO: Colin Stanley (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2019-02-21