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Saturday 19 August 2017

Schmidt's inexperienced Leinster side braced for Italian bruiser

Joe Schmidt. Photo: Sportsfile
Joe Schmidt. Photo: Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Leinster will be well warned of what Treviso bring this evening as they look to get back to winning ways at the RDS.

The Italians did a job on Joe Schmidt's men in September when they battered them up front and eventually cruised to a 29-13 win at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo.

It got worse a week later, when Schmidt went through the nadir of his coaching reign in Ireland in a defeat to Edinburgh, but since then it's been plain sailing as Leinster cruised into the Heineken Cup quarter-finals and recovered their league position.

Their success has been rewarded with plenty of Irish call-ups, but it means Schmidt is left with a bare-looking cabinet for the fixtures during the Six Nations.


Leinster's poor start means they cannot relax in the Magners League where they are looking over their shoulders in fourth place, with Ulster and Scarlets hot on their heals in the play-off race.

But, while Treviso will be weakened by international call-ups, the Leinster team that lost in Italy five months ago featured Rob Kearney, Luke Fitzgerald, Gordon D'Arcy and Cian Healy.

Tonight Isa Nacewa will bring some assurance from full-back and the Fiji international captains the side, while Devin Toner and Kevin McLaughlin will want to highlight their international prospects.

Eamonn Sheridan (21) will look to build on his strong defensive display last week and the Lansdowne centre can also cause damage going forward. Stan Wright starts up front after bolstering the scrum last weekend.

Despite their inexperienced line-up, the hosts have enough to get the points -- but it won't be pretty.

Verdict: Leinster.

LEINSTER -- I Nacewa (capt); A Conway, E O'Malley, E Sheridan, D Kearney; I McKinley, I Boss; H van der Merwe, R Strauss, S Wright; E O'Donoghue, D Toner; K McLaughlin, D Ryan, S Keogh. Reps: J Harris-Wright, J McGrath, C Newland, R Ruddock, P Ryan, P O'Donohoe, I Madigan, N Morris.

TREVISO -- J Maddock; M Sepe, E Galon, A Vilk, B de Jagert; W de Waal, L Nitoglia; M Rizzon, E Ceccato, IF Rouyet; A Pavanello, C Van Zyl; B Vermaak, G Padro, M Filipucci. Reps: F Sbaraglini, M Muccignat, P Di Santo, E Pavanello, M Sutto, A Pratichetti, A Marcato, S Picone.

Leinster v Treviso

Live, RTE2, 7.10

Irish Independent

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