Dragons to feast on lighter Blues

Fringe men have battle on their hands at Rodney Parade

Des Berry

IN a different way, of course, this will test the mental strength and match-winning ethos of Leinster as much as Clermont-Auvergne did in Bordeaux.

You see, this is one of those fixtures no player can truly look forward to unless he is starting out on the career path that will blossom or burn out quickly.

For, this is the sort of venue and occasion where players -- there will be no television cameras in Newport -- show Joe Schmidt how badly they want to be a part of something.

Leinster are already safe in the knowledge that they can't be caught at the top of the PRO12. They have a home run in the play-offs and a better, deeper squad to get the Heineken-PRO12 double done than last year.

The greatest motivation tomorrow will be the personal and collective standards the club sets. The players dare not dip below what is acceptable. Or, they will be exposed for it by their coach.

There are one or two seats still up for grabs for the Heineken Cup final match day squad. This will be the basis of the leadership role adopted by those in attendance.

Leinster have lost one in 25 over a duration that has taken them to far harder venues than Rodney Parade. But, they will meet the quality of individual that could undo them.

What they will encounter is a Welsh club that brings a French-style fervour to their home matches. There is hostility to deal with and the facilities of a bygone era.

The Dragons are third from bottom of the pile. If they play their cards right, they could climb two places to eighth with Wales second row Luke Charteris looking to make his 100th appearance for the club.

Back rowers Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau are also listed for action. They will test the fibre of Leinster's form to the limit.

Newport-Gwent Dragons v Leinster, Rodney Parade, Saturday (KO 7.30)

Verdict: Dragons