leinsterfans.com: Supporting Leinster Rugby
skip to content
Subscribe to the RSS Feed for this page


Zebre vs Leinster Rugby
Pro Rugby
Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma
Friday, 12th February 2021, 17:45 (Irish time)

TV: Live on Eir Sports

After something of a bizarre win over Ulster last week, Leinster earned their place in a fourth Grand Final on the trot.

After beating the Scarlets, Glasgow and Ulster in the last three seasons, this time they'll finally meet Munster with a trophy at stake for the first time since the 2011 Pro12 final. Of course Munster won that day in Thomond Park but that was the last silverware Munster got their hands on. They've had ten years of watching Leinster success winning seven major trophies (plus the European Challenge Cup) while their cupboard remained stubbornly bare.

Munster's cause will be aided by the date of the final: March 27th. This is normally a down weekend after the Six Nations end to let the internationals get a week off before the European knock-out stages. With the draw announced this week, both Leinster and Munster have tough draws against Toulon and Toulouse respectively. If they win, they'll both be away from the home the following week most likely to Exeter and Clermont respectively. So frankly there's no way the likes of CJ Stander and James Ryan are going to be asked to play potentially five weekends in a row. Something will need to give and that will be the grand final.

So by dint of the fact that Leinster currently have more internationals (seventeen named in the latest squad compared to Munster's eight) then Munster should be less affected and therefore favourites. However one positive thing is that finally the players who shouldered all year in the league like Michael Bent will actually get to play in the final instead of losing their places to (league) blow-ins like Tadhg Furlong.

So even though the last two league games of the season away to Zebre and home to Ospreys are dead rubbers, they will be important games in preparing the squad for the final because these are mostly going to be the lads playing. Zebre tomorrow isn't quite the soft touch you may expect either. Though they are bottom of Conference A, they only trail the Dragons by three points. They've won four matches this season, which is four more than their more salubrious rivals Benetton. Head coach Michael Bradley had named a young team featuring former Leinster second row pairing Ian Nagle and Mick Kearney.

For Leinster's Leo Cullen it's once again about juggling the squad to put out another competitive team. Harry Byrne has recovered from a head injury to replace his brother Ross at out-half. It's almost all change in the pack though as only Scott Penny starts again and he's switched back to his regular position of openside flanker. Peter Dooley, Dan Sheehan and Thomas Clarkson come in to start in the front row. Jack Dunne makes his first start of the season alongside Ross Molony in the second row. Alex Soroka makes his first Leinster start at number eight and Josh Murphy completes the back row with Penny. Backrow Sean O'Brien and fly-half Tim Corkery will make their senior Leinster debuts off the bench.

Though there's nothing on the game itself, a lot of young players will be hoping to make a good impression so it will hopefully be interesting enough early Friday evening entertainment.

Team Lineups


Leinster Rugby
Teams Gabriele Di Giulio 15 Max O'Reilly
Pierre Bruno 14 Cian Kelleher
Jamie Elliott 13 Jimmy O'Brien
Enrico Lucchin 12 Rory O'Loughlin
Giovanni D'Onofrio 11 Dave Kearney
Antonio Rizzi 10 Harry Byrne
Joshua Renton 9 Luke McGrath (C)

Paolo Buonfiglio 1 Peter Dooley
Massimo Ceciliani 2 Dan Sheehan
Matteo Nocera 3 Tom Clarkson
Mick Kearney 4 Ross Molony
Ian Nagle (C)
5 Jack Dunne
Iacopo Bianchi 6 Josh Murphy
Potu Junior Leavasa 7 Scott Penny
Renato Giammarioli 8 Alex Soroka

Replacements Niccolo Taddia 16 James Tracy
Alexandru Tarus 17 Marcus Hanan
Eduardo Bello 18 Michael Bent
Samuel Ortis 19 Devin Toner
Leonard Krumov 20 Sean O'Brien
Nicolo Casilio 21 Hugh O'Sullivan
Guglielmo Palazzani 22 Tim Corkery
Lorenzo Masselli 23 Jamie Osborne

Not Considered
due to Injury

Vakh Abdaladze,
Conor O'Brien,
Dan Leavy,
Adam Byrne,
Max Deegan,
Tommy O'Brien,
Caelan Doris,
Ciaran Frawley,
Sean Cronin
Officials Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR),
Assistant referees: Manuel Bottino, Riccardo Angelucci (both FIR),
TMO: Stefano Roscini (FIR)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2021-03-11