Leinster expecting 'abrasive' test in must-win clash
Published 08/05/2015 | 02:30
Leinster can't mess this one up, can they?
While their supporters will have one eye on Champions Cup qualification rivals Scarlets and, particularly, Edinburgh, Matt O'Connor's men must take care of their own business first as they begin the quest for the six points needed to guarantee Champions Cup fare next season.
Cursory evidence suggests that, even if they have only won twice in their last ten outings, tonight should be a turkey shoot against the visiting Italians.
Still, the memories of an embarrassing 24-24 draw in Italy earlier this season should help to ward against complacency. Treviso have lost their last five matches and conceded a try bonus point in each one while their only victory on the road was in Zebre.
Treviso's five previous visits here have all ended in heavy defeats, conceding a try bonus on four of those occasions so perhaps the prohibitive odds - favouring a 24-point advantage - are on the money.
"They are very physical," says O'Connor. "They play a pretty abrasive brand of footy and they are pretty abrasive at the set-piece, although perhaps they haven't been as dominant at scrum as they have been in recent seasons.
"But they pushed a very good Munster side away from home last week so we have a lot of respect for them. We went over there and gifted them two tries.
"To draw that game was incredibly disappointing, but it gives us a pretty good understanding that if you're not at your best then they will compete very hard in every facet of the game and put you under pressure. We need to deliver on the bits we can control."
They can't control the absence of loosehead prop Cian Healy with a neck issue and there promises to be no farewell appearance for Shane Jennings, still recovering from concussion, though he and benched Gordon D'Arcy will be feted before and after the match as they prepare for their respective retirements.
There are five changes to the side. Dave Kearney is back on the left wing after a hip strain, while Ian Madigan comes in at centre and Eoin Reddan replaces Isaac Boss at scrum-half.
Prop Jack McGrath returns to the front-row and Jordi Murphy takes over from Dominic Ryan at flanker. Verdict: Leinster
Leinster - R Kearney; Z Kirchner, B Te'o, I Madigan, D Kearney; J Gopperth, E Reddan; J McGrath, R Strauss, M Ross, D Toner, M McCarthy; J Murphy, S O'Brien, J Heaslip (capt). Reps : A Dundon, M Bent, T Furlong, T Denton, J Conan, I Boss, G D'Arcy, D Fanning.
Treviso - J Hayward; A Pratichetti, L Morisi, E Bacchin, L Nitoglia; S Christie, E Gori; M Zanusso, D Giazzon, R Harden, M Fuser, C van Zyl (capt), P Derbyshire, N Cattina, M Luamanu. Reps: A Anae, R Acosta, S Manu, M Swanepoel, F Minto, M Lazzaroni, A Esposito, J Ambrosini.
Ref - L Hodges (WRU)
Leinster v Treviso,
Live, TG4, 7.35