Leinster are set to entertain Edinburgh Rugby following their tour of South Africa as the pair face off at the RDS Arena on Friday night.
What’s at stake?
Leo Cullen’s side had a mixed time in the Southern Hemisphere as they defeated the Southern Kings but were outclassed by the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein as they saw their perfect start come to an end.
After a perfect opening two matches, Edinburgh have found it hard going in rounds three and four, letting a 14-point lead slip against Benetton before defending champions Scarlets brushed the Scottish outfit aside.
Both sides will be desperate to return to winning ways and get their seasons back on track.
Team news (Leinster): The Irish province welcome back four players who toured with the British & Irish Lions during the summer as well as four others who missed the Cheetahs match.
Johnny Sexton returns and captains the side with Sean O’Brien also in the starting line-up.
Luke McGrath starts at scrum half having recovered from an arm injury with Jack McGrath and Tadhg Furlong making their seasonal bows.
Team news (Edinburgh): It was a disappointing night in Wales last time out and Richard Cockerill has opted to make nine changes to his starting line-up.
Full-back Glenn Bryce returns as well as wing Dougie Fife and James Johnstone all come in.
A new half-back partnership sees Jason Tovey make his first start of the season alongside Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, who replaces Nathan Fowles.
Talking points: All eyes will be on the returning Lions with particular interest in Johnny Sexton, who captains the Leinster side.
It could be a very special night for the 32-year-old who needs just nine points to become the all-time highest Leinster points scorer. Felipe Contepomi currently sits on top with 1,225 points with Sexton on 1,217.
Key Battle: Sean O’Brien v Hamish Watson
This should be an intriguing matchup between two expert ball carriers as Sean O’Brien returns for his first Guinness PRO14 start of the campaign.
He will be up against Hamish Watson who has so far made 18 carries from his two league starts and will need to have a good game at the RDS Arena if Edinburgh are to come away with a win.
Did you know?
The last time Edinburgh prevailed in Dublin was November 2005 when they won 27-13 against the province.
Key stat: Only two players made more metres than Joey Carbery in the Guinness PRO14 last week. The 21-year-old made 122 metres with Zebre’s Matteo Minozzi and Carl Meyer of the Dragons making more ground.
Leinster: J Carbery, F McFadden, R O’Loughlin, N Reid, D Kearney, J Sexton, L McGrath, J McGrath, S Cronin, T Furlong, D Toner, S Fardy, R Ruddock, J Murphy, S O’Brien
Replacements: B Byrne, E Byrne, A Porter, R Molony, M Deegan, J Gibson-Park, R Byrne, J Larmour
Edinburgh: G Bryce; T Brown, J Johnstone, P Burleigh, D Fife; J Tovey, S Hidalgo-Clye; D Marfo, S McInally, S Berghan, F McKenzie, G Gilchrist, J Ritchie, H Watson, C du Preez
Replacements: N Cochrane, M McCallum, K Bryce, A Bresler, J Hardie, N Fowles, B Kinghorn, R Fruean.
TV: TG4, BBC Alba (KO 7.45 local)
Match officials – Referee: Ian Davies (WRU), AR1: Adam Jones (WRU), AR2: Keiran Barry (IRFU), TMO: Jon Mason (WRU)
Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie
Jamison Gibson-Park’s late try sealed a hard-earned victory for Leinster at home to Edinburgh, with the hosts keeping up the pressure on Scarlets at the top of Conference B.
Leo Cullen’s men shaded the first half 14-13, Jordi Murphy and Joey Carbery touching down either side of Jason Tovey’s intercept score.
And after 33 scoreless minutes in a nip-and-tuck second period, finally Leinster broke through with Gibson-Park crashing down for the decisive try.
Leinster were looking to bounce straight back from a setback against the Cheetahs last week in South Africa, but it was visitors Edinburgh who started brightly at the RDS.
Tovey was pulling the strings beautifully as Richard Cockerill’s men kept the ball in hand, James Johnstone made a lovely break, and eventually they settled for three points in front of the posts as Devin Toner was penalised for a high tackle.
And Tovey doubled his tally in ten tenth minute from the tee as Leinster were pinged for offside – with Johnstone, Phil Burleigh and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne showing great hands in the build-up.
But out of nowhere Leinster were ahead two minutes later. Tom Brown was penalised for taking out Dave Kearney in the air, and from the resulting lineout the Boys in Blue were unstoppable and Jordi Murphy rumbled over.
Jonathan Sexton, skippering the hosts, made no mistake with the conversion to make it 7-6 – but Leinster were not in front for long as a loose pass cost them seven points.
Tovey picked it inside his own half and sprinted 70 metres to score under the posts, outpacing the chasing Leinstermen.
The hosts almost hit back immediately moments later with Seán Cronin making a searing break to move his side into the Edinburgh 22, but after Sexton chipped over the top, Scott Fardy knocked on with the line at his mercy.
But Leinster were not done there and piled on the pressure, with Edinburgh first offside and then pinged for not rolling away, giving Sexton the chance to kick to the corner.
And as the Boys in Blue pounded away at the line, Carbery finally wriggled across the whitewash past the tackle of Glenn Bryce as the clock ticked into the red, and Sexton’s conversion made it 14-13 at the break.
Edinburgh were defending deep in their own half at the start of the second period, but two crucial turnovers kept Leinster at bay, with Hamish Watson getting over the ball brilliantly.
However, when Jamie Ritchie saw yellow for a late hit on Luke McGrath, Leinster almost made their extra man count immediately as a powerful lineout maul was just stopped short.
But Edinburgh escaped unscathed from Ritchie’s ten-minute sin-bin, and went on the offensive, seeing Dougie Fife’s 64th-minute try chalked off by the TMO for crossing.
Entering the last ten minutes this clash could have gone either way, but it was Leinster who struck the hammer blow as Glenn Bryce hit an errant clearance and Jamison Gibson-Park was the benefactor.
Ross Byrne hit a brilliant conversion to take the gap to eight points, and from there Leinster held on for a 21-13 triumph.