LEINSTER welcome champions Connacht to Longford Rugby Club tomorrow in a bottom-of-the-table clash in this season's Junior Inter-Provincial Championship with a win essential for both teams.
A week ago, Leinster came unstuck in their opening encounter of this year's campaign against Munster at St Mary's Rugby Club in the heart of Limerick, but managed to snare a pair of bonus points in a 31-27 defeat.
The eastern province bagged four tries from Andy Turner (Tullow), Ross Doyle (Portarlington), Chris Jebb (Clondalkin) and Ivor Deverell (Tullamore), but couldn't quite overcome the 21-point kicking haul of Munster out-half Ben Martin which included a try, a drop goal, two conversions and three penalty goals.
Ulster commenced their campaign with a 20-12 victory away to Connacht in Ballina Rugby Club and the northern province will host Munster in a top-of-the-table tie at Coleraine Rugby Club tomorrow.
Leinster will be bolstered by the addition of the Tullamore and Longford players following their clubs' Provincial Towns Cup exploits a fortnight ago, and this welcome boost should give them an advantage that may well be enough to deliver the win that will keep them in the mix until the final series of games a week tomorrow.
The Leinster Juniors head coach is David Mahon of Newbridge, assisted by Niall Moran of Longford and Brett Igoe of IT Carlow with Longford's Derick Turner acting as manager.
Some 14 clubs were represented in the match-day squad last Saturday with Division 1A side Coolmine contributing three players to the starting XV.
Newbridge won the Provincial Towns Seconds Cup last Sunday, coming from behind soon after half-time to overcome a stern Edenderry challenge 23-10 in Portlaoise Rugby Club.
Trailing 10-6 early in the second half, out-half Rob Skehan edged the Co Kildare side in front when he crossed the whitewash before prop forward Aidan Healy's late try sealed matters.
Ever-reliable full-back John McNamara kept the scoreboard ticking over with an invaluable 13 points from the boot.
This is the second year in a row that Newbridge have won the Seconds Cup which copper-fastens their place as one of the top junior clubs in the province, especially as they only lost out on top honours on the last day of the Seconds League Division 1A at the start of March.
On Friday night, Tullow won a first-ever Anderson Cup when their third XV proved too strong for Tullamore in an extremely entertaining decider in Newbridge Rugby Club, although the score in their favour of 32-19 belies how close the contest was for long stages.
Two days later it was New Ross' turn for glory, as their second XV won the Michael Dunne Cup (J4) when they beat Ratoath 25-5 in Arklow Rugby Club.
The result will surely give the Co Wexford club a major boost after having had to concede in the first round of the Provincial Towns Cup back in January.