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Leinster Rugby vs Lyon OU
Heineken Champions Cup Round 5
RDS Arena, Dublin
Sunday, 12th January 2020, 13:00

TV: Live on BT Sports

The final two rounds of the European pool games in January normally set the pulse racing.

Fans are sweating over qualification and working out the permutations from the other pools to see if there is any way to get through. The fans of Ulster, Munster and Connacht face a potentially tense but exhilarating two weeks. Well Munster and Connacht are more than likely screwed and Ulster should go through as a second placed qualifier comfortably enough but it will be at least interesting.

No such drama ahead for Leinster fans though. This is the price of dominating their pool so completely that they topped the pool with two games to spare. They still need to win the final two games to guarantee themselves top spot in the rankings for a home quarter and (hopefully) semi-final. But both Lyon and Benetton have only one win to their name and have nothing to play for. So while Benetton might give it a bit of a rattle at home, it's hard to see Leinster not winning comfortably in either match. The kick-off times don't help either. The only time more poxy than a one o'clock Saturday KO is a one o'clock Sunday KO and Leinster face into both options in the next six days.

But Leinster will get on with it. When Lyon faced Leinster back in November they were top of the Top14 but many said it was a false position after the World Cup. Two months later they're clear in second place in the table with 10 wins from 13 behind leaders Bordeaux Begles. Their play is basic but effective and they'll definitely fancy their chances of a top six finish at least. Their coach Pierre Mignoni has picked a fairly weak enough lineup with several changes from the team that won 13-12 in Agen last week. Their star men like Charlie Ngatai, Demba Bamba and Liam Gill are all omitted from the squad so that tells you all you need to know really.

For Leinster the Six Nations looms large so major Ireland players like James Ryan and Johnny Sexton aren't risked. It's still a pretty strong team with eight changes from the side that destroyed Connacht last week in what was little more than a training match.

Cian Healy, James Tracy, Devin Toner and Scott Fardy return to the front five and Josh van der Flier comes into the back row. Interestingly Max Deegan retains the number eight jersey ahead of Caelan Doris after his outstanding performance last week that bafflingly didn't get a man of the match award. Fardy is chosen as captain even though Rhys Ruddock starts too. Ross Byrne, Robbie Henshaw and James Lowe come in to start in the backline with Dave Kearney switching wings.

Lyon should provide a physical challenge at least but Leinster should make short work of them.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Lyon OU
Teams Jordan Larmour 15 T. Arnold
Dave Kearney 14 X. Mignot
Garry Ringrose 13 E. Dumortier
Robbie Henshaw 12 T. Regard
James Lowe 11 N. Nakaitaci
Ross Byrne 10 J. Buttin
Luke McGrath 9 J. Pelissie

Cian Healy 1 H. Kaabeche
James Tracy 2 B. Alkhazashvili
Tadhg Furlong 3 F. Gomez Kodela
Devin Toner 4 M. Rolland
Scott Fardy (C) 5 H. Roodt
Rhys Ruddock
6 K. Geraci
Josh van der Flier 7 E. Oosthuizen
Max Deegan 8 V. Bruni

Replacements Sean Cronin 16 J. Maurouard
Peter Dooley 17 R. Chaume
Andrew Porter 18 K. Yameogo
Ross Molony 19 T. Halaifonua
Caelan Doris 20 F. Lambey
Jamison Gibson-Park 21 S. Hidalgo-Clyne
Ciaran Frawley 22 J. Moura
Rob Kearney
23 J. Tuisova

Not Considered
due to Injury
Dan Leavy,
Barry Daly,
Jack Conan,
Vakh Abdaladze,
Rory O'Loughlin,
Ronan Kelleher,
Johnny Sexton,
Michael Bent,
James Ryan

Officials Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU),
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (WRU), Mike English (WRU),
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2020-01-10