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Leinster 'A' vs Leeds Carnegie RFC
British & Irish Cup Final
Donnybrook Stadium, Dublin,
Friday, 23th May 2014, 19:00

Television: Live - Setanta Ireland

Like the senior team with the Pro12, Leinster's second team also have a chance to successfully defend the trophy they won last year. This time however, they'll get a chance to do it at home in front of a bumper home crowd with Leinster's first team having no involvement in a European final for the first time since 2010.

Leinster's success last season was largely based on nail-bitingly tight wins on the road in Bristol, Munster and, after extra-time, in Newcastle in the final. This season they had a handy win over Munster in the quarter-finals but then were pushed to the absolute limit by Pontypridd in the semi-final. They looked on the verge of going out before a late, late Andrew Boyle try and a nerveless Cathal Marsh conversation sent the game into extra-time. There was no further score and though the match finished all square, Leinster went through because of their 3-1 try count.

Last season, Leinster took on a Newcastle team that was in the middle of a two-legged play-off battle for promotion and hence faced a weakened team. This season, Leeds lost in the semi-finals of the play-offs to London Welsh on a remarkably tight 60-58 aggregate score over two games. So this is it for Leeds and they'll be desperate for a trophy to get something for their season.

Leeds Carnegie, who were formerly known as Leeds Tykes, have been up and down in the Premiership in the last fifteen years. They were relegated back in 2011 and haven't been back since though. Their defeat against London Welsh was only five days ago, but they've signalled their intent by naming ten of that starting team. The most recognisable name in the side is centre Jon Clarke, who's on loan from Worchester. Clarke played for Northampton in the 2011 Heineken Cup final against Leinster so he certainly won't lack for motivation. Another familiar name is wing David Doherty who had spells in the Premiership with Wasps and Sale.

Many of their squad will be playing their final game for the club. Both their skipper Jacob Rowan and their full back Stevie McColl are joining Gloucester in the summer and many others, like Jonny Bentley, James Doherty and Calum Green are also leaving in the summer. So Leinster can expect a tough, fired-up performance from the visitors.

For Leinster there are a number of personnel and positional switches from the semi-final. Darragh Fanning returns from injury to start on the left wing which means Sam Coghlan Murray switches to the ring wing. This means Brendan Macken moves from the right wing to outside centre in place of Collie O'Shea, who's is unfortunate to be benched. Macken will partner Noel Reid in the centre, the senior team's highest try-scoring back this season. Cathal Marsh and Luke McGrath will look to continue their good form at half back and Darren Hudson completes the back-line at full back, playing his final Leinster game before moving to Bristol in the summer.

Another Bristol bound player, Jack O'Connell, comes into the pack at loosehead prop in place of Edward Byrne. He makes up a powerful and mobile front row with James Tracy and Tadhg Furlong. Tom Denton's injury means there is a reshuffle in the back five. Ben Marshall moves into Denton's place in the boiler room alongside Quinn Roux and Jack Conan moves from eight to blindside flanker. This means Leo Auva'a gets to start on his final appearance before joining Newcastle in the summer. The team is completed by skipper Dominic Ryan who has led the side by example with a series of ultra-physical displays.

Leinster played Leeds twice last season in the pool stages of the competition hammering them at home before drawing with them away. Their coach James Lowes seems to be taking the completion more seriously this season though and they'll go all out for the win. Leinster will know that the Championship in England is a very good level and that their fitness levels won't be as much of an advantage as they were against Ponty.

The Leeds scrum will come after the young Leinster front row, and in loosehead Charlie Beech, they have another player with considerable Premiership experience. Former Toulon player and German international Damien Tussac is another big unit at tighthead so so it will be quite a test for Tadhg Furlong and Jack O'Connell. Their backrow is also worth noting given that their number eight Jacob Rowan is a former England Under-20s captain and David Sisi, who's on loan from Bath, is another bright prospect. Along with Chris Walker, who also captained England at Under-20s level, they'll be itching to prove themselves against Leinster's impressive breakaway unit.

So all in all, this will be a tough challenge for Leinster but if the pack can do their stuff and compete in the set-piece and breakdown, hopefully the dangerous backline will take advantage and the boys can bring the cup back to Kielys afterwards.

Team Lineups

Leinster 'A'

Teams Darren Hudson 15 Stevie McColl
Sam Coghlan Murray 14 Jonah Holmes
Brendan Macken 13 Jon Clarke
Noel Reid 12 Fred Burdon
Darragh Fanning 11 David Doherty
Cathal Marsh 10 Jonny Bentley
Luke McGrath 9 James Doherty

Jack O'Connell 1 Charlie Beech
James Tracy 2 Joe Graham
Tadhg Furlong 3 Damien Tussac
Ben Marshall 4 Calum Green
Quinn Roux 5 Mike Myerscough
Jack Conan6 David Sisi
Dominic Ryan (C) 7 Chris Walker
Leo Auva'a 8 Jacob Rowan (C)

Replacements Bryan Byrne 16 Phil Nilsen
Ed Byrne 17 Lee Imiolek
Ross Molony 18 Ben Hooper
Josh Van Der Flier 19 Matt Smith
John Cooney 20
Richard Beck
Colm O'Shea 21 Christian Georgiou
Andrew Boyle 22 Joe Barker

by Jim O'Connor, © 2014-05-22