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Sharks vs Leinster Rugby
United Rugby Championship
Round 16
King's Park, Durban
Saturday, 23rd April 2022, 17:15

TV: Live: TG4, Premier Sports

It's the commentator's nightmare Leicester v Leinster in the Champions Cup quarter-final!

But before then there's a two week tour of South Africa in which most of Leinster's front-liners won't be involved. Leading the URC table by ten points with just three games to go Leinster seem confident enough they can keep top spot despite effectively conceding the two next games with the squad they've picked. It had been thought the final would be in South Africa regardless so it would make little difference between finishing first or second. But it was announced yesterday that the top-seeded team would host the final instead so that makes hanging onto top spot a little more important. So perhaps Leinster could end up regretting sending such an inexperienced squad to play two very tough fixtures.

The South African teams have understandably improved massively as the season has gone on. Due to Covid they were forced to play most of their early season games away from home. With understrength squads playing in unfamiliar conditions, they took some heavy beatings. But since Christmas their results have gradually improved especially playing at home and now two or three of the South African teams look set to feature in the top eight play-offs.

The Sharks coach Etienne Fynn has named a strong team which includes several current Springboks in Makazole Mapimpi, International captain Siya Kolisi, Bongi Mbonambi and Ox Nche. There's also a couple of former Munster players in Gerbrandt "The Drugs don't work, they just make you worse" Grobler and Thomas du Toit who captains the team from tighthead prop.

Leinster have named a mixed side with a lot of inexperienced players. Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher and Thomas Clarkson are named in the front row and Brian Deeny will make his senior debut in the second row alongside Jack Dunne. Deeny is a very mobile player who played a lot in the back row for the Irish under-20s so he could take well to the hard ground. Rhys Ruddock captains the team and he forms a back row with Scott Penny and Max Deegan. Nick McCarthy is named with the fit again Harry Byrne at half-back and Ciaran Frawley and Jamie Osborne are the centres. Chris Cosgrave makes his first Leinster start at full back with the in-form Tommy O'Brien and Rory O'Loughlin are named on the wings. Hooker John McKee will also make his Leinster debut if called from the bench.

Given the relative strength of the two respective sides, it's hard to see anything other than a comfortable Sharks win. But with no pressure on them, this young Leinster team can throw the ball around and maybe they can spring a surprise.

Team Lineups


Leinster Rugby
Teams Aphelele Fassi 15 Chris Cosgrave
Werner Kok 14 Tommy O'Brien
Ben Tapuai 13 Jamie Osborne
Marius Louw 12 Ciaran Frawley
Makazole Mapimpi 11 Rory O'Loughlin
Curwin Bosch 10 Harry Byrne
Jaden Hendrikse 9 Nick McCarthy

Ox Nche 1 Andrew Porter
Bongi Mbonambi 2 Ronan Kelleher
Thomas du Toit (C) 3 Thomas Clarkson
Le Roux Roets 4 Brian Deeny
Gerbrandt Grobler 5 Jack Dunne
Siya Kolisi 6 Rhys Ruddock (C)
Henco Venter 7 Scott Penny
Phepsi Buthelezi 8 Max Deegan

Replacements Kerron van Vuuren 16 John McKee
Ntuthuko Mchunu 17 Peter Dooley
Khutha Mchunu 18 Michael Ala'alatoa
Reniel Hugo 19 Josh Murphy
Jeandre Labuschagne
20 Alex Soroka
Sikhumbuzo Notshe 21 Cormac Foley
Grant Williams 22 David Hawkshaw
Boeta Chamberlain 23 Martin Moloney

Not Considered
due to Injury

Will Connors,
Conor O'Brien,
James Ryan,
Ryan Baird,
Jordan Larmour,
Harry Byrne,
Dave Kearney

Referee:Nika Amashukeli (GRU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2022-04-29