Leinster will look to gain a priceless win this Sunday when they travel to take on Bath in their Pool 3 game in the Heineken Cup, kick off 12.45pm.
Joe Schmidt and his side will be fully aware of the need to get a positive result this weekend, the first of two back to back games they will play against Bath. The 2011 champions have made just the start they were looking for in their pool with a hard fought draw against Montpellier and a ruthless dispatch of Glasgow in the RDS in their last pool games.
Those results put Leinster two points clear at the top of Pool 3 ahead of Sunday’s opponents, who unlike Leinster are struggling for form, having only won once from their previous five games.
While Bath maybe out of sorts at the moment, Joe Schmidt is not taking their challenge lightly. “They rested a few guys on the weekend (when defeated by 16-13 by Sale),” said the Leinster coach.. “Stuart Hooper, their captain, didn’t play.
“Neither did Francois Louw, Stephen Donald or Dan Hipkiss. A number of guys are coming back freshened and also it suggests to me they have a very clear plan about what they are targeting. I get the hint that it might be us.
“You cannot be two, three per cent off your mark because they will make sure they damage us if we are.”
He is also wary of the threat posed by World Cup winning fly half Stephen Donald. “’Ive certainly seen him develop and he is a real threat.
“He takes the ball flat to the line and runs very aggressively. He is very strong and would be close to 96 kilos and quite tall, 6ft 2in, at least, which is very big for an outhalf.”
For Leinster to win they will have to start fast and well. Silencing the home crowd is a classic ploy when playing away from home and if Jonny Sexton can gain control of the ball in the early exchanges then the sting could be taking out of the home crowd and players, who will be looking to lay down a marker at ‘the rec’.
Schmidt has no injury concerns ahead of the game and will be looking to the likes of Jonny Sexton Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslp et al to give them good go forward ball to free up the likes of Fergus McFadden, Luke Fitzgerald and Isa Nacewa in the backline.
A lot has changed since the sides last met in 2006. That day Leinster came out on top, and while it may be a dogfight at times Leinster are selected to get the job done before the return game in the Aviva a week on Saturday.
Leinster to win by under 12.5 pts is worth a bet on Betfair