Leinster host Edinburgh at the RDS Arena on Friday at 7.35pm as the third-placed hosts will look to put pressure on the teams above them as they welcome ninth-placed Edinburgh.
The home side will look to do the double over their Scottish rivals after a 33-20 win at BT Murrayfield in round three got them off to a fast start to the campaign.
What’s at stake?
Leinster will go top, for a few hours at least, with a bonus point win over Edinburgh as second-placed Ospreys host league leaders Munster on Saturday. With their fifth league win of the season, Edinburgh would close the gap on Connacht, who sit one place above them.
Leinster Team News: Head coach Leo Cullen has made eight changes to the side that secured a bonus-point win in Treviso with internationals Luke McGrath and Joey Carbery starting at nine and ten respectively.
Cullen also welcomes back Josh van der Flier onto the openside with Ross Molony and Mike McCarthy adding the weight in the second row.
Zane Kirchner makes his 80th club appearance at full-back with Dave Kearney and Barry Daly joining him in the back three.
Edinburgh Team News: Acting head coach Duncan Hodge has made five changes from the side that earned a losing bonus point at Ulster.
Duncan Weir returns from international duty to wear the ten shirt, with Sam Hidalgo-Clyne named at scrum-half.
Tom Brown, who signed a two-year contract extension this week, continues on the wing joining Glenn Bryce and Damien Hoyland in the back three.
Talking points: Jamie Ritchie, who was a late call-up to the match day squad in last week’s loss at Ulster, starts on the openside with Magnus Bradbury shifting to six to accommodate the inclusion of Cornell Du Preez at No.8.
Leinster’s last league defeat was a 27-17 loss to Munster on Boxing Day in round 11, since then they have earned 14 match points from three league matches.
Key battle: Joey Carbery v Duncan Weir
Fly-halves Carbery and Weir, the latter returning from international duty with Scotland respectively, will bring added direction to their sides. Friday’s encounter will be Carbery’s first start for the Leinstermen since injuring his ankle in round three of the European Champions Cup in December while Weir returns after two substitute appearances for Scotland.
Key stat: Edinburgh have not been victorious in Ireland for two years, their last win coming in a trip to Connacht in January 2015.
Did you know? The Leinstermen have won their last 18 home games since their 16-20 defeat by Toulon at the Aviva Stadium in December 2015.
Leinster Rugby: Z Kirchner; D Kearney, R O’Loughlin, N Reid, B Daly; J Carbery, L McGrath; P Dooley, J Tracy, M Ross; R Molony, M McCarthy; D Ryan, J van der Flier, J Conan.
Replacements: B Byrne, A Porter, M Bent, M Kearney, D Leavy, J Gibson-Park, R Byrne, A Byrne.
Top points scorer: Isa Nacewa 78pts Top try scorer: Adam Byrne and Rory O’Loughlin 6 each
Edinburgh Rugby: G Bryce; D Hoyland, C Dean, P Burleigh, T Brown; D Weir, S Hidalgo-Clyne; J Cosgrove, N Cochrane, M McCallum; F McKenzie, B Toolis; M Bradbury, J Ritchie, C Du Preez.
Replacements: G Turner, D Appiah, N Beavon, G Gilchrist, L Carmichael, N Fowles, J Tovey, B Kinghorn.
Top points scorer: Duncan Weir 69pts Top try scorer: Magnus Bradbury 5
TV: Live on TG4 and BBC Alba (KO 7.35pm)
Match Officials – Referee: Ian Davies (WRU). Assistant referee 1: Simon Rees (WRU). Assistant referee 2: Leo Colgan (IRFU). TMO: John Cole (IRFU)
Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:
Played 27, Leinster won 17, Edinburgh won 10.
At RDS Arena, 7.35pm Live on TG4 and BBC Alba
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU, 57th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Simon Rees (WRU), Leo Colgan (IRFU)
Citing Commissioner: John Cole (IRFU)
TMO: Neil Hennessy (WRU)
Fly-half Joey Carbery scored two tries in his first start since December as Leinster saw off Edinburgh Rugby 39-10 at the RDS Arena.
The home side scored six tries in total with Barry Daly also crossing twice as they moved back to the top of the Guinness PRO12 table until Munster face Ospreys on Saturday.
Man of the match Daniel Leavy and Bryan Byrne also made it over the whitewash for Leinster while Duncan Weir scored all ten of Edinburgh’s points.
Leinster opened the scoring on nine minutes as a big carry from Leavy got them inside the Edinburgh 22 before the ball was shipped left for the waiting Daly to dot down.
Carbery’s conversion fell short and the fly-half had to wait until the 34th-minute of the match to rectify that miss as he knocked over a penalty following a ruck infringement by Edinburgh.
Weir got the visitors on the board barely a minute later as Leinster were penalised for going off their feet and the Scottish international slotted the resulting penalty to make it 8-3.
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) February 17, 2017
Carbery marked his return in fine style early in the second half as he stretched out after a half break for the opening score of the second half.
The fly-half couldn’t convert his own score but was back in the action soon after as Luke McGrath broke down the right before feeding Jamison Gibson-Park who offloaded to Carbery to touch down.
Ross Byrne, on as a replacement for Rory O’Loughlin, extended the lead with a successful conversion as Leinster led 20-3 with 53 minutes played.
And Leinster’s second-half momentum showed no sign of stopping as the hosts took full advantage of an overlap two minutes later and Daly touched down.
The bonus point try was Leinster’s third in just 15 second half minutes.
— PRO12RUGBY (@PRO12rugby) February 17, 2017
Flanker Leavy had the home side’s fifth try of the evening after breaking away from a driving maul to dive over with Ross Byrne adding the conversion to make it 32-3 with ten minutes to go.
Scotland international Weir, who has made two substitute appearances in this year’s RBS 6 Nations, then grabbed a consolation from a George Turner offload to get the visitors’ first try.
Weir added the conversion but Leinster’s reply was almost instant as Bryan Byrne grabbed their sixth try of the game which Ross Byrne converted to make the score 39-10.
Guinness PRO12 Final 2017, 27th May, Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
Ticket Information: Fans can still avail of an exclusive number of €30 tickets. Book via www.ticketmaster.ie. Further information: www.pro12rugby.com/final
16 Feb 2017