Sunday 18 February 2018

BOD starts as Madigan gets the nod ahead of Gopperth for Leinster

Brian O'Driscoll back in the Leinster side to face Northampton
Brian O'Driscoll back in the Leinster side to face Northampton
Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

Munster and Leinster have both named strong sides for their respective Heineken Cup games at the weekend. Brian O'Driscoll returns in the midfield for Leinster, while Munster skipper Peter O'Mahony and Connor Murray are also back for Munster.

As expected, Brian O'Driscoll has been named in Leinster's starting XV for their Heineken Cup showdown with the Northampton at Franklin's Gardens tomorrow evening.

Matt O'Connor has decided to go with Ian Madigan at flyhalf instead of Jimmy Gopperth who was so impressive in the opening two games of the competition.

Madigan is joined at half- back by Eoin Reddan with Gordon D'Arcy forming his reliable centre partnership with BOD.

Luke Fitzgerald is joined the back three by the Kearney brothers Rob and Dave.

Jamie Heaslip leads the team and the Naas man is named in the back-row alongside Sean O'Brien and Rhys Ruddock who will win his 69th Leinster cap in Northampton.

Devin Toner returns to the second row after his involvement with Ireland over the recent international series and will partner Mike McCarthy, with Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Mike Ross - who now lies six appearances shy of the century mark for Leinster - completing the pack.

Leo Cullen, Jimmy Gopperth and Zane Kirchner form what looks like a formidable looking replacements bench.

Leinster team to face. Northampton: (15-9) Rob Kearney, Dave Kearney, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald, Ian Madigan, Eoin Reddan;(1-8) Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy, Rhys Ruddock, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip (c)

Replacements: (16-23) Aaron Dundon, Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Leo Cullen, Shane Jennings, Isaac Boss, Jimmy Gopperth, Zane Kirchner.

Meanwhile, Munster Head Coach Rob Penney has named a strong starting XV for the crunch Heineken Cup clash against Perpignan at Thomond Park on Sunday (ko 12:45pm).

Captain Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray are both included in the side for the first time since October.

Penney has made six changes to the side that extended Munster’s winning run to five games last weekend against Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.

There are three changes in the backs with Murray coming in to partner last week’s man of the match Ian Keatley in the half-backs.

Casey Laulala returns to the side and lines up alongside James Downey in the centre positions.

Laulala’s inclusion means that Keith Earls moves out to the right wing with Johne Murphy coming into the side on the left wing and Felix Jones keeping his place at full-back.

Damien Varley is the only change in the front row as the hooker replaces the injured Mike Sherry with Irish internationals Dave Kilcoyne and Stephen Archer keeping their places in the side.

The second row of Donncha O’Callaghan and Paul O’Connell remains the same but there are two changes in the back row with Peter O’Mahony and Sean Dougall coming into the team.

James Coughlan starts at no.8 after recovering from an eye injury sustained against Newport Gwent Dragons last weekend.

Billy Holland is named on the bench for the first time in this season’s Heineken Cup alongside Shannon hooker Duncan Casey who could make his competitive debut for the province.

Munster currently lie second in Pool 6 of the Heineken Cup, a point behind Perpignan.

Munster: Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Johne Murphy; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Damien Varley, Stephen Archer; Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell; Peter O'Mahony (Capt.), Sean Dougall, James Coughlan

Replacements: Duncan Casey, James Cronin, BJ Botha, Billy Holland, CJ Stander, Cathal Sheridan, JJ Hanrahan, Denis Hurley

Meanwhile, Mark Ancscombe has named a strong side for his team's clash Treviso despite a number of injury problems in the squad.

Craig Gilroy comes in for Tommy Bowe n the wing while Rob Herring gets a chance at hooker in the absence of Rory Best who is recovering from a fractured forearm.

Ulster team to face Treviso: (15-9) Jared Payne, Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; (1-8) Tom Court, Rob Herring, John Afoa, Johann Muller, Dan Tuohy, Robbie Diack, Sean Doyle, Roger Wilson.

Replacements : (16-23) Niall Annett, Callum Black, Declan Fitzpatrick, Neil McComb, Mike McComish, Paul Marshall, Michael Allen, David McIlwaine.


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