Preview to Leinster 'A' (Away)

13/12/2012

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Welcome to this festive and environmentally-friendly preview,
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Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back Into The Water...



In St Peter's fair city
They all sing this ditty
And we first set our eyes on sweet David Fel-ton
He pushed Leinster's scrummage
On a pitch rather narrow
Crying Cockles and Mussels, Alive, Alive-o!

Just eight days after Part One of the Jersey/ Leinster 'duology', get ready for the sequel this Sunday.

There is no fixed interval between a movie and a sequel, but eight days is at the rapid end of the scale, closer to the time-lapse between Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions (six months apart in 2003) than the generation's gap between The Hustler (1961) and The Colo(u)r of Money (1986).

Paulnewman 60 Paulnewman 86x 

Last weekend                                                      This weekend

Sequels also get various degrees of critical acclaim - Godfather II and The Empire Strikes Back are reckoned to have been better than the originals, while Godfather III and the various other Star Wars sequels were widely panned.

So let's hope for a decent contest in Part Two. The opening 80 minutes at St Peter may have been more for the purists, inevitably perhaps given the soft conditions underfoot and the contrast in styles between Jersey's powerful pack and a more fleet-of-foot Irish side. But it was compelling, with the result always in doubt until Jersey's final attack of the game broke down with just a couple of minutes remaining and Leinster clinging to a four-point lead.

The Irish province's second team aren't the first side to undergo a period of being second-best to the Jersey scrum this season: unbeaten Championship leaders Newcastle were up against it in an even first half at St Peter three weeks ago, while even Leicester Tigers - albeit in below-strength form - were shunted backwards in August's pre-season friendly and forced to concede a penalty try.

Leinster recovered their scrimmage poise in the second period at St Peter, and it will be this type of performance they will want to bring in front of their home crowd at Donnybrook, expected to number around 1,500 and likely to want to watch their scrum go forwards rather than backwards.

The pool five B&I Cup tie is one Leinster will wish to win to maintain their positions as favourites to win the pool, with Pontypridd likely to get a win at home to Leeds at Sardis Road on Saturday. Jersey know that victory is essential to maintain their cup chances into the final two games in January.

There is an appetising warm-up fixture for the Dublin fans, as well as the 70- 80 clutch of Jersey supporters making the journey: on Saturday afternoon Leinster host ASM Clermont Auvergne in a crucial Heineken Cup encounter dubbed 'The Christmas Craictacular'. More than 46,000 tickets have been sold for the game at the Aviva Stadium - not bad for a curtain-raiser...

Christmas -SPLASH-0101

Leinster Coach Joe Schmidt has tended to be sparing with the use of his eight permitted replacements in the Heineken Cup this season, making three, four and four switches in the three games to date. Even though the province has around 60 contracted players, and the ability to supplement this number from provincial clubs, this could mean some squad members getting an outing against Jersey on Sunday. This happened in October, with last year's World Cup scrum-half Isaac Boss one of four players to get a run-out in the B&I within hours of warming the Heineken Cup bench.

News from the Jersey camp
Director of Rugby Ben Harvey is likely to have one eye on the festive season when he selects his Jersey squad this weekend. The Jersey supremo may not be losing sleep over whether to have port or calvados after his Christmas dinner, or how many pigs-in-blankets to permit himself, it's more a question of Jersey's Championship fixtures against Leeds (H - Dec 22) and Moseley (A - Jan 5).

Pigs In Blankets

With London Scottish having lost their appeal against a three-point deduction for playing a 'not effectively registered' player last month, Jersey are now seven points adrift of ninth-placed Scots and three behind Moseley and Doncaster, and hugely determined to improve this situation by the time the Xmas decorations are taken down.

Harvey has made several changes, but denied it was simply a case of resting key players ahead of crucial RFU Championship encounters against Leeds and Moseley over the festive period.

"Our squad's not big enough to make wholesale changes, but there are some players carrying knocks who I don't intend to risk, while other players need game time in order to force their way into contention," he said.

"We could have beaten Leinster first time out, and if we had done so I don't think anyone would have batted an eye-lid. This is a strong squad and although it's likely to be another tough challenge, we are going there to win."

Missing from the first encounter are fly-half Mike Le Bourgeois, number 8 Guy Thompson, lock Dave Markham, flanker James Voss and tight-head Jon Brennan. Jersey's scrum dominance in the first-half at St Peter was centred on a man-of-the-match performance by the powerful Brennan, and his absence will no doubt be a fillip to Irish hopes.

Barry Davies will take the number 10 shirt after impressing in the fly-half role against Newcastle in November, while Glenn Bryce returns at full-back behind an all-changed three-quarter line-up.

James Gethings will start in the front row at the local stadium to where he grew up on Dublin's south side, while Rob Anderson starts at lock, Kingsley Lang plays blind-side and Graham Bell makes his first start since February after returning from injury off the bench last weekend.

Jersey's bench includes recent loan signings Max Stelling and Charlie Clare. Leicester Academy hooker Clare is set to make his first appearance for the Island side on his 21st birthday. Also among the replacements is Ross Broadfoot, making his first appearance in a Jersey squad since late September.

STOP PRESS (SAT 0800): Barrington (illness) and Broadfoot (hamstring) ruled unfit to travel and will be replaced on bench by Brennan and Bishop.

Jersey squad, sponsored by Locate Jersey and jersey.com
1 Sean McCarthy
2 Dave Felton
3 James Gethings
4 Nathan Hannay (capt)
5 Rob Anderson
6 Kingsley Lang
7 Fred Silcock
8 Graham Bell
9 Dave McCormack
10 Barry Davies
11 Ed Tellwright
12 Ashley Maggs
13 Donovan Sanders
14 James Copsey
15 Glenn Bryce

Replacements
16 Richard Barrington
17 Charlie Clare
18 Paul Rodgers
19 Eoghan Nihill
20 Brendan O'Brien
21 Ross Broadfoot
22 Max Stelling
 

Any Previous?

Well yes, actually. Here's how Part One went last weekend:

Jersey 12 Leinster 'A' 16
Jersey built a half-time advantage on the back of a dominant scrummaging effort but were unable to stay ahead of their hard-working Irish opponents.

Two tries in three second-half minutes gave a Leinster 'A' a lead that they never surrendered, in spite of a late fightback by the home side.

Jersey's pack won a penalty from the first scrum and Mike Le Bourgeois slotted the kick from 40 metres, adding two more penalties before the visitors eventually replied in kind through the boot of Noel Reid.

One successful kick apiece made it 12-6 just before the break and Jersey maintained their lead thanks to some excellent defensive work.

Leinster were determined to score first after half-time and turnover ball in their own half enabled the Irish side to counter-attack, with Leo Auva'a eventually barging his way over from close range. Other than the restart, Jersey never regained possession until a second try had been scored, this time by skipper Rhys Ruddock at the end of a series of powerful attacks.

Le Bourgeois failed with an attempt to narrow the four-point deficit with around 20 minutes remaining, but otherwise Jersey struggled for territory until the closing stages.

Dominic Ryan received a yellow card as the Islanders pressed for a winning score, but Jersey's scrum was no longer the dominant unit of the first 40 minutes. Replacement number 8 Graham Bell [a welcome returnee from long-term injury - pictured below] picked up and drove for the line, but became isolated and Leinster were able to clear their lines.

GG

"It was disappointing - we could have won, but turnover ball in the second half cost us dearly you can't afford that against a good side," said Jersey Director of Rugby Ben Harvey. "We had an opportunity at the end against 14 men when the open-side channel was unguarded but we couldn't take advantage of it.

"I was pleased with our commitment and defence, especially in the first half, and the scrum was great but overall we just couldn't do the job."

Jersey: Davies, Maggs, Stelling (Levesley 64), Bishop, Dawson, Le Bourgeois, McCormack (O'Brien 78); McCarthy (Barrington 67), Felton, Brennan (Gethings 64), Hannay (capt), Markham (Anderson 27), Voss, Silcock (Nihill 55), Thompson (Bell 55).

Leinster 'A': Marsh, Boyle (Daly 51), Macken, Coghlan, Byrne, Reid, Cooney (McGrath 67); O'Connell, Dundon (Sexton 67), Hagan (Moore 60), Denton (Beirne 51), Marshall (Gilsenan 62), Ruddock (capt), Ryan, Auva'a. Replacement not used: Crosbie.


Leinster 'A' in 2012/13
On the second Saturday of October, when Leinster seniors struggled to a 9-6 home win over Exeter in a 3pm kick-off, no fewer than four unused subs from the 23-man Heineken squad were placed into the squad against Leeds for the British & Irish Cup tie against Leeds at 7pm, including the afore-mentioned Mr Boss, who has 15 Irish caps. Not surprisingly, Leinster won 47-18.

A week later and there was no opportunity for the same mixing-and-matching in Wales when the 'A' team took on Pontypridd, as the fixture clashed with the seniors' game at Llanelli the same day. This, and a fired-up Welsh side, meant a much closer game with Ponty snatching it 25-23 at the death thanks to a try by Daffyd Lockyer. The Welsh centre was rightly excited, tweeting that "@PontypriddRFC what a game today. Amazing crowd and a amazing set of boys to play with privlage to be part of it. #bestclubinWales ". Sometimes you're just too excited to bother with formalities such as spell-check...

Leinster's line-up is packed with players who have played international rugby for their country at junior levels, with every chance that future stars to replace the like of Brian O'Driscoll, Paul O'Connell and Ronan O'Gara in the Irish side may be on show.

Irish Under 20 caps include prop Jack O'Connell, centre Brendan Macken, and scrum-half John Cooney, a former pupil of Gonzaga College in Dublin, the school attended by Jersey's James Gethings.

Experience and power is provided from the base of the scrum by Wellington-born number eight Leo Auva'a (28), who plays alongside 22-year-old skipper Rhys Ruddock, a man with Heineken Cup experience comprising four appearances and a try against Bath.

Changes in personnel are possible in the light of injured players who are either missing out or close to returning from injury and movement between the two Leinster sides. The seniors know their clash with Clermont is almost certainly 'must-win' regarding qualification for the Heineken quarter finals - they may need a 5-0 (match points) result to get ahead of the French in pole position in their group, but wins of any size in the last three rounds should at least ensure qualification as a best runner-up.

Those who may be returning from injury this weekend could include wing/ full-back Dave Kearney, younger brother of Rob, centre Eoin O'Malley, and perhaps even Ireland and Lions winger Luke Fitzgerald. A 40-minute run-out against Jersey for the 'A' team isn't probable, but if it happens, well you heard it here first.

The Leinster 'A' team to face Jersey has been named.

Fresh from Dominic Ryan's successful return to action last weekend against the same opposition which Leinster won 16-12, the province are further boosted by the return to action of centre Eoin O'Malley (pictured below) who will make his season's debut.

Omalley

O'Malley partners Brendan Macken at centre in a side which blends youth and experience across the various combinations.

Fionn Carr is named on the left wing, with young Kildare back Adam Byrne named on the other flank, while John Cooney links up at half back with Noel Reid.

Jack McGrath leads the team and is named again in an abrasive pack, with wing forward Ryan continuing his back-row partnership alongside Rhys Ruddock and number eight Leo Auva'a.

There is considerable senior team experience in the 'A' squad including O'Malley (49 senior caps for his province), Ruddock (44), Ryan (39), Carr (31), Auva'a (23) and skipper McGrath (24). McGrath and Carr were unused substitutes in last weekend's Heineken Cup match in France

Leinster lie level on points with Pontypridd who host Leeds Carnegie on Saturday.

LEINSTER 'A':

15: Cathal Marsh
14: Adam Byrne
13: Eoin O'Malley
12: Brendan Macken
11: Fionn Carr
10: Noel Reid
9: John Cooney

1: Jack McGrath CAPTAIN
2: Aaron Dundon
3: Jamie Hagan
4: Ben Marshall
5: Tom Denton
6: Rhys Ruddock
7: Dominic Ryan
8: Leo Auva'a

REPLACEMENTS:

16: Thomas Sexton
17: Jack O'Connell
18: Tadhg Beirne
19: Conor Gilsenan
20: Luke McGrath
21: Jordan Coghlan
22: Steve Crosbie


A Brief History of Leinster Rugby
In amateur days, the four Irish provinces played against each other in the Irish Interprovincial Championship and also played touring international sides. The first Interprovincial matches between Leinster, Ulster and Munster were held in 1875. At this time, the matches were played with 20 players a side. Leinster lost to Ulster by a converted try and beat Munster by one goal to nil. Since then there has been a match between these teams annually, with Connacht joining the fold in 1885.

220px -Ireland Rugby Provinces

The Leinster Branch of the Irish RFU was officially formed in 1879 in a meeting at Grafton Street in Dublin.

The first official overseas touring side that came to play Leinster was an Australian touring side in 1957. Since then, Leinster has played against every major touring side from Fiji to France.

Before the days of professional rugby union, there was a greater emphasis on Irish club rugby as opposed to the provincial game. During these times the provincial sides were purely representative sides and games were far less frequent than now. When rugby union was declared 'open' in 1995, these four teams became the four professional teams run by the Irish Rugby Football Union.

The Heineken Cup began in 1995 and Leinster reached the semi-finals, one of six seasons in which the province reached the knock-out stages in the first 13 seasons of the European competition, without ever making the final.

Finally in 2008/09 Leinster beat Harlequins in the 'Bloodgate' quarter-final match, and then Munster to reach their first final, which they won against Leicester 19-16. The following season saw a semi-final loss against Toulouse, but Leinster have since won two more European crowns with back-to-back successes over the past two seasons, overcoming Northampton and Ulster in the finals. Only Toulouse (4) have won more Heineken titles.

Leinster have twice won the Rabo Direct Pro 12 (Celtic) League, formerly sponsored by Magners, in 2002 and 2008, as well as being runners-up on four occasions. Last season's bid for a Heineken/ Pro 12 double was thwarted by a last-minute try by the Ospreys in the Pro 12 final, the Welsh side winning 31-30.

Leinster 'A' have competed in the British & Irish Cup every year since its inception. After failing to qualify for the knock-out stages in 2009/10, they lost 50-15 the following season in a quarter-final at Bedford. Last season they beat Ponty at the quarter-final stage only to be edged out by Munster in the semi-final 36-29 after extra time.

Leinster Connections
It was a pleasure to welcome former Ireland fly-half (they call them outhalves on the Emerald Isle) Paul Dean (pictured below) to St Peter last weekend as one of Leinster's official representatives. Paul won 32 caps for his country between 1981 and 1989, including the inaugural World Cup in 1987, and toured Australia with the Lions in 1989.

Paul Dean

Talking of World Cups, Jersey prop James Gethings, a product of Gonzaga College in Dublin, played alongside the likes of Cian Healy and Keith Earls in the Irish Under 19 side in the 2006 World Cup and also captained Irish Universities. 'Geths' has become an increasingly important member of the Jersey pack since his arrival in January 2012 - he may be better-known for his work in the tight than his match-winning tries. But check out this match report from 2004. And see the proud skipper pictured with the Irish Universities side below.

Two former players from the renowned Wanderers club in Dublin will be on the Jersey bench, namely Brendan O'Brien and Eoghan Nihill. The pair were born on the other side of Ireland in Limerick, but moved to Dublin as students.

Not involved, but no doubt a keen spectator, will be Steve O'Brien, older brother of Leinster and Ireland's Sean. Injury checked the older brother's rise towards possible representative honours in his late teens, but he since moved to Jersey and played for the Island side for a decade, including more than 250 appearances. His retirement last April left prop Jon Brennan as the only Jersey player to be involved at 1st XV level since before the first professionals came to the Island in 2006.

At one stage earlier this season there was the tantalising prospect that Sean O'Brien might be using the B&I Cup games with Jersey as part of his return from a hip injury suffered in June, but in fact he was back in time for two Pro 12 appearances in late November, leading to a place in the Heineken Cup squad this weekend. As a by-product of this, Steve's plans for a one-off comeback were also shelved.

Donnybrook
Donnybrook was formerly the main home ground of Leinster Rugby - the province now play games at the nearby RDS Arena (and occasionally at the Aviva Stadium), but still use Donnybrook for Leinster 'A' and friendly games. It is also used for schools' rugby - this week James Gethings' old school Gonzaga lost the Leinster Schools Senior League Final to Roscrea by 18-14 at Donnybrook.

Grass -Donnybrook

The ground is used as the home ground by two locals clubs, Old Wesley and Bective Rangers, and has a capacity of 6,000. This includes a main stand holding around 2,500 spectators, which was completed in 2008.

Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v Leinster through the following channels:

• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey from 5.30- 6pm on Friday, more build-up in Saturday's Sportscene programme from 2pm and live commentary on Sunday afternoon from 2pm (available online and on your transistor-wireless device)
• Preview in Friday's JEP, more rugby in Saturday's paper, and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum, as well as the Leinster Fans forum 'Babbling Brook'
• Reports on Channel TV on Monday evening at 6.15pm; and on BBC Channel Islands on Monday evening at 6.30pm

The B&I this weekend
Bedford and Newcastle look set to be the first clubs to nail down quarter final places if they maintain their current momentum and secure a fourth straight win of this B&I campaign. Munster 'A' can't make mathematically sure this weekend, but they'll be virtually home-and-hosed with a win over Rotherham.

B&I

While English and Irish representation in the last eight seems certain, Scots' hopes rest with Gala in pool 6, while Llandovery, Carmarthen and Pontypridd have the only realistic prospects of keeping the Welsh flag flying in the quarters at the start of April.

Friday 14th December
Munster A v Rotherham, Pool 7, 19:00
Bristol v Bridgend Ravens, Pool 1, 19:45
Plymouth Albion v Aberavon, Pool 7, 19:45

Saturday 15th December
Melrose v Nottingham, Pool 8, 13:45
Dundee HSFP v Carmarthen Quins, Pool 3, 14:00
Cardiff v Ulster A, Pool 1, 14:30
Bedwas v Stirling County, Pool 2, 14:30
Connacht A v Cross Keys, Pool 4, 14:30
Pontypridd v Leeds, Pool 5, 14:30
Llanelli v London Scottish, Pool 6, 14:30
Doncaster v Llandovery, Pool 8, 14:30
Bedford v Neath, Pool 2, 15:00
Moseley v Gala, Pool 6, 15:00
Swansea v Cornish Pirates, Pool 3, 16:30

Sunday 16th December
Leinster A v Jersey, Pool 5, 14:30
Newcastle Falcons v Newport, Pool 4, 15:00

And Finally
Other Jersey rugby action this weekend sees LQ Lydian Lions have their annual 'Overs/Unders' challenge match - this game is at St Peter at 12noon on Saturday.

On Sunday Jersey Colts will have their final match of 2012, an away Hampshire League match against Trojans. Let's hope they go into Christmas on a winning note.

And Some stirring words from former Ireland lock Neil Francis in his preview of the Leinster v Clermont game:

These are high stakes now and I think Clermont do not relish coming here on Saturday. Dry mouths and uncertain minds have always existed in the Clermont ranks. They should have won five or six Boucliers (French championship titles) in the last eight or nine years. There is a reason why they've only won one. They don't like it up 'em.

What Leinster have to do this Saturday is take Clermont by the balls and squeeze so hard that their toes turn in and you hear a sound of broken crockery from them as they limp across the paddock. A sustained blitzkrieg from the start is what is awaiting Clermont. Unfortunately blitzkrieg without the points is of no value. Leinster have a disturbing habit of feeling their way into some big games. I always feel that for some teams - particularly like Clermont who have half a dozen players who will run out the gate - if there is uncertainty and unyielding pressure, particularly in the first 30 minutes, they will throw their hands in the air.

Enjoy your weekend's rugby!
Tom Innes

 

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