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Preview: Leinster Rugby v Benetton Rugby

Rich Dore 13 Apr 2018
Max Deegan, Leinster

Many teams have just two regular-season fixtures remaining and competition is intensifying to settle league positions and confirm places in the Guinness PRO14 Final Series.

On Saturday night Leinster Rugby welcome Benetton Rugby to Dublin in what’s set to be a hard-fought Conference B clash.

What’s at stake?

Leinster face a second Italian opponent in as many weeks when Benetton Rugby are the guests at the RDS Arena on Saturday night.

Having secured a place in the Final Series last round, Leinster will be trying to earn a home Qualifier with the right result here while Benetton could set themselves a new record for wins in the Championship.

Team news (Leinster)

Jack McGrath will captain the side from loose head, with Richardt Strauss at hooker and Andrew Porter selected at tight head.

Behind them Ross Molony and Ian Nagle are the second-row combination. In the back row there is a welcome return for Seán O’Brien from a shoulder injury picked up against Scarlets last month.

Joining him is Jordi Murphy and Max Deegan. In the backs, Jordan Larmour makes his first appearance for Leinster since appearing off the bench for Ireland in the Grand Slam decider against England in March.

The former St. Andrew’s man has recovered from a calf injury and makes his 17th appearance of the season from full-back.

Team news (Benetton Rugby)

The Benetton full-back will be Jayden Hayward and he’s joined in the back three by wings Andrea Bronzini and Monty Ioane.

Tommaso Iannone and captain Alberto Sgarbi occupy the centre positions while the half-backs are Tito Tebaldi at scrum half and Tommaso Allan at fly-half.

The front row is made up by Federico Zani, Luca Bigi and Simone Ferrari.

Talking points

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen: “Treviso are only a point behind Ulster so there’s a lot of stake for them but for us it’s about getting some positive momentum going into next week.

“It’s important that the squad is fresh and motivated for the challenges ahead.”

Key battle – Sean O’Brien v Sebastian Negri

So often in rugby the battle for the game is won up front and it will be no different on Saturday as two fearsome looking back-rows go head to head.

The home side welcome back world-class openside Sean O’Brien, who will be desperate to make an impact and earn his place back in a successful side with some huge games coming up.

He’ll come up against Sebastian Negri in the Benetton openside shirt, a man whose stock has risen miraculously over the last 12 months given his work rate and strong carries in both a Benetton and Italy shirt – a mouth-wateringly physical clash is expected.

Key fact: Benetton have lost just twice in the last nine rounds of the Guinness PRO14, at home to Connacht in round 16 and away in Cardiff in round 17.

Did you know? The Leinsterman’s only home defeat in any competition in their last 37 games since December 2015 was to Scarlets in last season’s PRO12 semi-final.

Leinster: Jordan Larmour, Fergus McFadden, Rory O’Loughlin, Noel Reid, Barry Daly, Joey Carbery, Jamison Gibson-Park, Jack McGrath (C), Richardt Strauss, Andrew Porter, Ross Molony, Ian Nagle, Jordi Murphy, Seán O’Brien, Max Deegan

Replacements: James Tracy, Ed Byrne, Michael Bent, Mick Kearney, Peadar Timmins, Nick McCarthy, Ross Byrne, Adam Byrne

Benetton Rugby: Jayden Hayward, Andrea Bronzini, Tommaso Iannone, Alberto Sgarbi (C), Monty Ioane, Tommaso Allan, Tito Tebaldi, Federico Zani, Luca Bigi, Simone Ferrari, Marco Lazzaroni, Alessandro Zanni, Federico Ruzza, Sebastian Negri, Nasi Manu

Replacements: Engjel Makelara, Cherif Traore, Tiziano Pasquali, Irné Herbst, Marco Fuser, Dean Budd, Ian McKinley, Tommaso Benvenuti

TV: Live on TG4, kick-off at 7.35pm at the RDS Arena

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU, 45th competition game) Assistant Referees: Aled Evans (WRU), Johnny Peek (IRFU) Citing Commissioner: Peter Ferguson (IRFU) TMO: Jon Mason (WRU)

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Prices start at just €35 at www.ticketmaster.ie with tickets available to suit every experience.
To book hospitality, visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/hospitality
For Travel packages, visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/travel-packages
For Fanzone & Dublin 7s, visithttp://www.dublin7sfestival.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Benetton roar to landmark win at Leinster

Daniel Barnes 14 Apr 2018
Leinster, Benetton, Guinness PRO14

Benetton Rugby claimed their second-ever victory over Leinster with a Tommaso Allan-inspired triumph at the RDS Arena.

Leinster missed out on the opportunity to secure a home semi-final in the Guinness PRO14 Final Series, with Allan’s opportunistic try helping Marius Goosen’s troops come from behind to record their first win over their Irish opponents since the 2010-11 season, bringing a 14-match winless streak to an end.

Leinster looked to have got off to a dream start as the hosts drove forward from a lineout before hooker Richardt Strauss burst into life to dot down with less than seven minutes on the clock, Joey Carbery converting.

But Benetton hit back just four minutes later through an almost identical situation, the visitors attacking from a set piece and driving with their own relentless maul, eventually walking over the line to allow Luca Bigi to claim an unconverted try.

The scoreline would remain 7-5 for most of the first period as the two teams battled tooth and nail, with the Italians refusing to roll over as their opponents strived for a decisive victory.

But right on the stroke of half-time, Leinster stole a march as Jordan Larmour took flight and fed Barry Daly to crash over in the corner, Carbery unable to add the extras as his team took a seven-point lead into the break.

Early in the second half, Leinster set about attempting to increase their advantage as they rapped at the door but the Italians held firm.

They received more than adequate reward for that defensive solidarity in the 50th minute as Tito Tebaldi booted the ball skyward and then Jayden Hayward pounced upon the rebound before expertly offloading to Federico Ruzza, who raced away for his team’s second try of the evening.

Allan’s attempted conversion flew wide of the mark as Benetton clawed their way back to within two points.

They were in front shortly afterwards when Allan got his foot to a misplaced Jack McGrath pass, hacked forward and then went over before adding the extras himself to shock the RDS Arena.

It wasn’t long before a Carbery penalty brought Leinster back to within a whisker, though, leaving the contest finely poised.

Despite the visitors having Tebaldi yellow-carded midway through the half, Leinster struggled to break down Benetton, who withstood everything the men in blue threw at them.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Prices start at just €35 at www.ticketmaster.ie with tickets available to suit every experience.
To book hospitality, visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/hospitality
For Travel packages, visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/travel-packages
For Fanzone & Dublin 7s, visithttp://www.dublin7sfestival.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138