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Leinster must up pace to prosper

THE Italian club have a habit of knocking over some of the biggest teams in Europe at this venue.

Leinster were trampled underfoot 29-13 in the opening weeks of Joe Schmidt's contract for a second defeat in three league matches back in 2010.

It seems like such a long time ago.

It prompted Schmidt to admit he was "really disappointed with the result and the performance" that night, citing the lack of a platform for a defensive wall that eventually cracked in the face of incessant pressure.

It isn't going to be any easier third time around - Leinster got their league revenge (30-20) last November. Treviso have already put the skids under the Ospreys (12-6) at home this season.

And they were as durable as always and downright mean in defence at Thomond Park last Friday night, where they eventually succumbed 19-6.

They are well-coached by Franco Smith, well-motivated and are rarely bullied off the ball on their home patch.

The relief was palpable when Schmidt was in a position to recall all his fit Ireland internationals for this one.

The trick is to figure out how to mix and match those who have prospered in their absence and those who can assimilate quickly.

There are many choices to be made. Jonathan Sexton or Ian Madigan at fly-half and Eoin Reddan (pictured) or John Cooney at scrum-half are chief among them.

The main issues surround which can bring the greater impact to the match.

Experience

Sexton and Reddan are eager to return to action and their experience is needed.

Fast ball from the forwards married to quick hands and minds at half-back will open the door for Schmidt's preferred centre partnership to wreak havoc.

Noel Reid and Brendan Macken showed flashes of quality in the first two league matches.

But they were never really able to release the pace of Andrew Conway and Fionn Carr, never mind the elusive Isa Nacewa.

That should change with the probable introduction of Brian O'Driscoll into the midfield in tandem with Gordon D'Arcy or Fergus McFadden.

While Treviso have lost their last five encounters with the Irish provinces, Leinster have won their last seven fixtures against Italian opponents.

It should be straight forward enough then? Not likely.

Benetton Treviso v Leinster, Stadio di Monigo, Tomorrow 6.05pm (Irish time)

Verdict: Leinster.


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