Saturday 18 November 2017

McGrath calls on Leinster young guns to step up for play-off push

Luke McGrath
Luke McGrath
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

These are usually the times when Leinster gather points and consolidate.

That was the case last year as in the Six Nations window last season, they picked up 19 out of possible 20 points.

Two games in this time around and they've already dropped four points, and that included a rare home defeat to the Dragons.

Leinster lie fourth in the Pro12 table, just four points off the top, but things have a tendency to change quickly at the summit as tonight's opponents the Ospreys can attest.

The Welshmen sat the top of the table before the Six Nations kicked in but two consecutive losses have seen them drop out of the play-off places. Leinster have been warned.

"Now that the internationals are away for us young lads it is important to take the opportunity we have," agrees scrum-half Luke McGrath.

"It's probably been a bit disappointing the last few weeks we haven't got the performance of where we are at but it is a massive game this week.

Massive

"If you look last year we got 19 out of 20 points when the internationals were away which was massive for us. Everyone has to take responsibility, even the young lads.

"If you are in there, you are in there. The last two weeks we haven't performed the way we know we can so it is all focused on these next two days with the Ospreys up first."

Leinster's backs look particularly potent. Gordon D'Arcy and Ben Te'o continue in the centre, with Zane Kirchner, Fergus McFadden and Dave Kearney making up the back three.

The pack is also littered with experience with Richardt Strauss, Rhys Ruddock and Kane Douglas included.

Clontarf tighthead Royce Burke-Flynn is in line to make his debut should he come off the bench.

Home comforts can help Ospreys reverse the slide and they have proven to be something of a bogey side for Leinster down through the years.

However, Matt O'Connor should have the squad to ensure that the Blues take a strong foothold among the top four teams in this crucial period.

Verdict: Leinster

Ospreys - D Evans; T Grabham, J Spratt, J Matavesi, H Dirksen; S Davies, M Roberts; R Bevington, S Otten, D Arhip; T Cavubati, T Adron (capt); J Bearman, J King, D Baker. Reps: M Dwyer, M Thomas, D Suter, R Hughes, O Cracknell, M Allen, T Habberfield, R Fussell.

Leinster - Z Kirchner; F McFadden, B Te'o, D D'Arcy, D Kearney; J Gopperth, I Boss (capt); M Bent, R Strauss, T Furlong; T Denton, K Douglas; R Ruddock, J Van Der Flier, J Conan. Reps: A Dundon, P Dooley, R Burke-Flynn, B Marshall, D Ryan, L McGrath, N Reid, D Fanning.

Ref - J Lacey (IRFU)

Ospreys v Leinster,

Live, TG4, 7.35

Irish Independent

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