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Connacht are hitting Dublin with tails up


Bundee Aki

Bundee Aki

Bundee Aki

Despite the cloud of discomfort that hangs over Leinster, the reality is they have lost just one - away to Harlequins - of their last eight in the PRO12 and Europe.

Moreover, they have rebuilt their winning home record at The RDS to a magnificent 18 since last sucking up a 29-all draw against The Ospreys all the way back to round two last season.

The holders have lost out in their only two Interpros this season to Connacht in Galway and Munster at The Aviva.

The last time they lost three on the trot was ten years ago.

In contrast, Connacht are on a roll. They will come with confidence from winning their four from the double against Bayonne in the Challenge Cup and the last two in the PRO12.

They have not put a five-game winning sequence since 2002. These are transformative times down West.

They will hunt a first ever League double over the champions, the level of the prospective achievement revealed in the fact they have won once in Dublin, back in 2002, since Ireland's Triple Crown year 1985.

However, this is not the lambs-to-the-slaughter Connacht of yesteryear.

"We are under no illusions as we lost to them down there," said Leinster coach Matt O'Connor.

"We need to get four points tomorrow, that is really important for us.

"There is the Inter Pro bit, the national side, the bragging rights, all those things, but for us it's about making sure we put out a performance that makes sure we get the points."

Connacht coach Pat Lam is knitting together a collective with which to be reckoned.

It remains to be seen how permanent or lasting a force they will become.

This is the first time Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki and Mils Muliaina will have played together and it does make for such an exciting feature of the game as well as the head-to-head between Henshaw and Luke Fitzgerald.

"As per our planning, we see a different team this week to the one that lined out against Bayonne," said Lam, as he changes the entire team.

"This was vital as we prepare for one of the biggest challenges of our season against the defending champions stacked with quality players and in a venue where we have never won."

Leinster: R Kearney; Z Kirchner, L Fitzgerald, N Reid, D Kearney; J Gopperth, I Boss; M Bent, R Strauss, T Furlong, D Toner, K Douglas, K McLaughlin, S Jennings, J Heaslip (capt).

Connacht: M Muliaina; D Poolman, R Henshaw, B Aki, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, T McCartney, R Ah You, Q Roux, A Muldowney, J Muldoon (capt), E McKeon, G Naoupu.

Verdict: Leinster