Treviso offer stern test
It's taken people a while to catch on to the idea that while Treviso may be only half an hour up the road from Venice, it's not the most attractive trip on the circuit. At least not if you're looking for full points from the experience.
Munster and Connacht have already been undone there this season and while Leinster's record against the Italians is very good – winning seven out of eight ties – their only defeat in the sequence was in Stadio Monigo, three seasons ago, when they were beaten out the gate with what was a strong line-up compared to the crew who are on duty this afternoon – Treviso will have four players back from international duty, with three of them on the bench.
Chances are most people will be coming across this game in a pub somewhere as they reflect on the conclusion to Ireland's November series. Moments like this however are real opportunities for the likes of second row Tom Denton who is now in his third season in blue and needs to prove he is worth keeping.
"I would like to be playing every week but I've just got to make sure when I do get an opportunity I'm ready to take it," he says. "Hopefully I'll have a good game and move on from there really, keep progressing every time I get a chance. It's a big game and a good opportunity for me to play with the internationals away and having had a couple of weeks off, it's important as a team we get a good result.
"We had a good start and we're in a good position. We were pleased to finish off the last period of games with a win away against the Dragons and it's important in the wash-up at the end of the season if you're in or amongst the top three you've got a good chance of being in a position to get the home semi-final."
Leinster were forced to make a change on Friday when Shane Jennings was diverted to the Ireland camp again as 24th man, with Dominic Ryan taking his place and Jordi Murphy coming onto the bench for his first involvement since an ankle procedure at the end of September.
Treviso: B Williams; L Nitoglia, A Pratichetti, C Loamanu, A Esposito; M Berquist, F Semenzato; A De Marchi, F Sbaraglini, I Fernandez-Rouvet, M Fuser, C van Zyl (capt) M Vosawai, M Filippucci, D Budd. Replacements: E Ceccato, M Muccignat, P Di Santo, A Pavenello, F Giusti, A Sgarbi, J Ambrosini, A Di Bernardo.
Leinster: D Hudon, L Tuqiri, B Macken, N Reid, D Fanning; J Gopperth, J Cooney; M Bent, A Dundon, M Moore, T Denton, Q Roux, R Ruddock (capt), L Auva'a, D Ryan. Replacements: J Tracy, J O'Connell, T Furlong, B Marshall, J Murphy; E Reddan, C Marsh, C O'Shea.
Referee: N Paterson (SRU)
Delayed transmission, TG4, 5.0