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Dragons vs Leinster Rugby
United Rugby Championship
Rodney Parade, Newport
Sunday, 3rd October 2021, 14:00

TV: Live: RTE2, Premier Sports

It was a familiar enough start to a season from Leinster.

A fast start with a couple of smartly taken tries - followed by a long fallow period where rust intervened - followed by a decent enough finish to get the job done for a comfortable bonus point win. If it was Welsh, Scottish or Italian opponents, the game would already be fading from our memory. The fact that it was the Bulls debut in the brand new spanking United Rugby Championship is the only thing to make it stand out.

The Bulls were supposed to be the main South African challengers but they offered little other than a bit of huff and puff in the second quarter of the match. The rest of the South African teams didn't fare much better. The Sharks were thumped by Munster and the Stormers lost narrowly to Benetton. The Lions at least prevented a total wash-out with a win, but it was against Zebre, the worst team in the league. Now hopefully we will see their standard improve, especially when they're playing at home. But the Irish teams don't need any more cannon fodder, this league has enough of that already.

Speaking of canon fodder, Leinster take on the Dragons on Sunday in Newport. The Dragons have struggled for years and there is no sign that this year will be any different. Admittedly Leinster can't be too cocksure going into the match. On their last visit to Rodney Parade on a wet Friday February night, they were competitive enough to only lose by six points in the end. Their coach Dean Ryan has named a team showing just the one change from the team that lost narrowly to Ospreys last Sunday as Eliot Dee comes in to start at hooker.

For Leinster it's a case of getting as much of the squad up to speed as they feel their way into the season. Leo Cullen has switched things around quite a bit in the backs but the pack is the same apart from Max Deegan coming in for the injured Caelan Doris. In the backs there are new halves in Ross Byrne and Jamison Gibson-Park. Garry Ringrose stays at outside centre and he's partnered by Conor O'Brien who makes his first start for eighteen months. Rory O'Loughlin moves to the left wing to allow Rob Russell make his first senior appearance on the right wing and Hugo Keenan stays at full back. It's good to see Dan Leavy back again on the bench where he's joined by Nick McCarthy who has returned from Munster.

The Dragons are usually spirited enough at home but Leinster should win this comfortably.

Team Lineups


Leinster Rugby
Teams Josh Lewis 15 Hugo Keenan
Jonah Holmes 14 Rob Russell
Jack Dixon 13 Garry Ringrose
Aneurin Owen 12 Conor O'Brien
Jordan Olowofela 11 Rory O'Loughlin
Sam Davies (c) 10 Ross Byrne
Lewis Jones 9 Jamison Gibson-Park

Aki Seiuli 1 Andrew Porter
Elliot Dee 2 Dan Sheehan
Mesake Doge 3 Michael Ala'alatoa
Ben Carter 4 Ross Molony
Will Rowlands 5 James Ryan (C)
Ross Moriarty (c) 6 Rhys Ruddock
Ollie Griffiths 7 Josh van der Flier
Aaron Wainwright 8 Max Deegan

Replacements Taylor Davies 16 James Tracy
Greg Bateman 17 Ed Byrne
Chris Coleman 18 Cian Healy
Joe Maksymiw 19 Ryan Baird
Taine Basham20 Dan Leavy
Rhodri Williams 21 Nick McCarthy
Adam Warren 22 Ciaran Frawley
Ioan Davies 23 Scott Penny

Not Considered
due to Injury

Jack Dunne,
Will Connors,
Tom Clarkson,
Josh Murphy,
Harry Byrne,
Tommy O'Brien,
Jordan Larmour,
Dave Kearney,
Michael Milne,
Caelan Doris
Officials Referee: AJ Jacobs (SARU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2021-10-01