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Leinster Rugby vs Cheetahs
Pro14, Round 16
RDS Arena, Dublin
Friday, 1st March 2019, 19:35

TV: Live on Eir Sports

For the second week in a row, it's Fright Night Lights at the RDS versus South African opposition.

To their credit the Kings did make something of a game of it for twenty minutes or so. They shocked Leinster by taking a 12-7 lead but the score thereafter was 52-7 to the home team so they were never really in any trouble. The Cheetahs should offer a little more competition but probably not much more.

The Cheetahs gave some hope to the idea of the South African franchises being a worthwhile addition to the league last season. They won twelve of their 21 games (including a fine win over Leinster) to finish third and make the play-offs where they lost to the Scarlets. However the Cheetahs aren't paying a whole lot and clubs from France, England, Japan and the Pro14 picked off virtually the whole squad and their coach Rory Duncan.

So they virtually had to start from scratch again this season with ex-Treviso coach Franco Smith in charge and it's been a struggle as they've only won six games so far and lie second from bottom in Conference A. However despite all that, they're still only six points behind Cardiff who currently occupy third place so they could still have an outside chance, particularly with their last three games being at home.

Smith has named a team showing just two personnel changes from last week. Reinach Venter will be the starting hooker with Marnus van der Merwe providing cover on the bench. Gerhard Oliver, Abongile Nonkontwana and Junior Pokomela switch places. Tian Meyer will be leading the team onto the field with Shaun Venter providing cover on the bench. Charles Marais returns to play after suffering from food poisoning.

For Leo Cullen there are a number of changes once again with Dave Kearney returning from injury at full back and Adam Byrne coming back from Ireland squad duty on the right wing for his 50th cap. With Byrne onto the right wing, Fergus McFadden swaps across to the left. In the centre, Conor O'Brien moves inside to 12 with Rory O'Loughlin coming in to the number 13 jersey. In the half backs scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park starts with Ross Byrne again selected at outhalf.

In the pack, it's a new front row with Peter Dooley, Bryan Byrne and Michael Bent starting. Ross Molony again starts but is joined this week by Scott Fardy in the second row. In the back row Rhys Ruddock has returned to full fitness from a hamstring injury to take his place as captain at blindside with Max Deegan and Caelan Doris again completing the pack.

On the bench Mick Kearney has recovered from the shoulder knock he picked up last week to take his place on the bench alongside last week's man of the match Ed Byrne.

The Cheetahs might chuck it around a bit but once again, it's hard to see any other result other than a comprehensive Leinster win.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Teams Dave Kearney 15 Louis Fouche
Adam Byrne 14 William Small-Smith
Rory O'Loughlin 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg
Conor O'Brien 12 Dries Swanepoel
Fergus McFadden 11 Rabz Maxwane
Ross Byrne 10 Tian Schoeman
Jamison Gibson-Park 9 Tian Meyer (C)

Peter Dooley 1 Ox Nche
Bryan Byrne 2
Reinach Venter
Michael Bent 3 Aranos Coetzee
Ross Molony
Walt Steenkamp
Scott Fardy 5 JP du Preez
Rhys Ruddock (C)
6 Gerhard Olivier
Max Deegan 7 Abongile Nonkontwana
Caelan Doris 8 Junior Pokomela

Replacements James Tracy 16 Jacques du Toit
Ed Byrne 17 Charles Marais
Andrew Porter 18 Luan de Bruin
Mick Kearney 19 Sintu Manjezi
Josh Murphy 20
Marnus van der Merwe
Hugh O'Sullivan 21 Henco Venter
Noel Reid 22 Rudy Paige
Barry Daly 23 Shaun Venter

Not Considered
due to Injury
Will Connors,
Joe Tomane,
Nick McCarthy,
Dan Leavy,
Luke McGrath,
Devin Toner,
Garry Ringrose,
Jack Conan,
Jordan Larmour>

Officials Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU),
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (IRFU), Wayne Davies (WRU)
TMO: Colin Stanley (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2019-02-28