Leinster v Dragons match preview

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Updated: September 8, 2011

Leinster return to the RDS this Friday night when they host the Newport Gwent Dragons in their RaboDirect Pro 12 clash, which has a 7.35pm kick off.

The reigning Heineken Cup champions got their domestic campaign off to a bad start last weekend when they shipped three tries in a 27-3 defeat away to the Ospreys at Liberty stadium last Friday. By Leinster’s high standards it was a poor result and Joe Schmidt and his team will be keen to right the wrongs this coming Friday.

While losing Brian O ‘Driscoll, Jamie Heaslip et al is a huge loss to Leinster they will be able to call on the likes of Ica Nacewa, Kevin McLaughlin.

They will have to do without Luke Fitzgerald for Friday’s clash however, as Joe Schmidt has decided to rest the Irish International after he suffered a knock to the knee in the defeat to the Ospreys last week.

One key area that Leinster will look to improve on from the Ospreys game is the ruck where they were in the words of Joe Schmidt “beaten up”. That lack of presence in the ruck forced Leinster on the back foot and allowed the Ospreys to dominate.

While allowances for the missing front liners can be made to a certain extent Leinster will be looking to the liked of Rhys Ruddock, along with McLaughlin to lead from the front and give the Leinster backs decent ball, something which was sorely lacking at times last week.

When Leinster do have the ball they are as potent force in European rugby as any team. Ica Nacewa will be again expected to be the steady hand, as so often is the case, to guide Leinster through what will be a determined and well drilled Dragons outfit.

The Welsh side make their second trip to Ireland in a week as they faced Munster in the opening round of fixtures. Despite losing 20-12 to the current RaboDirect Pro 12 champions, the Dragons played well for the majority of the match, and at times, had Munster in trouble.

Jason Tovey impressed against Munster and Leinster will be looking to nullify his influence as much as possible. His left boot is a potent weapon for the Dragons and he will look to ping Leinster back into the corners whenever he can.

Looking at the match as an entire the motivation on the Leinster side will be huge. The feeling around the camp this week is of determination to put the Ospreys result behind them and show the real Leinster on Friday night.

While the Dragons will test Leinster in the scrum and the ruck, the individual class of a Nacewa, Dave Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald can turn the game in a heartbeat and with a packed home crowd behind them Leinster are given the vote to get their first win of the season on Friday night.

Leinster (v Dragons): I Nacewa; F Carr, B Macken, E O’Malley, D Kearney; I Madigan, C Willis; H van der Merwe, R Strauss, J Hagan, D Browne, D Toner, K McLaughlin, D Ryan, R Ruddock (capt).

Replacements: A Dundon, J McGrath, J O’Connell/N White, M Flanagan, L Auva’a, J Cooney, M Berquist, D Hudson.

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