Leinster look to build on fine run

There was obviously a good reason for this RaboDirect Pro12 game to be handed the same kick-off slot as Ireland-New Zealand tomorrow but, for the life of us, it is impossible to think of one.

All eyes may well be on the Aviva Stadium then but, for Leinster, this is an opportunity to build on a good run of form that has seen them go undefeated in their last four outings.

Then again, something will have to give.

Treviso have lost just once at the Stadio Monigo inside the last 12 months — a 24-19 defeat to Ospreys in early September — and their only loss to an Irish province in the last six was against Ulster that same month.

You would still bet on Leinster who have won 11 straight against Italian opposition. Treviso’s only success in eight of these head-to-heads came back in September 2010.

“Treviso have been improving a lot recently under Franco Smith,” said scrum-half John Cooney. “They have only won two and lost five but they have three losing bonus points so that’s going to be a difficult fixture away.”

Naturally, the Test matches have taken its toll on both clubs, with 10 Treviso clubmen featuring for Italy today against Argentina, while Joe Schmidt has opted to use 17 of Leinster’s finest in his match-day 23.

The squad named by Matt O’Connor is, therefore, young and green with Jimmy Gopperth and Lote Tuqiri providing experience in the backs and Rhys Ruddock and Dominic Ryan will call the shots up front with Shane Jennings a late call-up as 24th man for Ireland .

The bench is even more callow with seven academy graduates joining the returning Eoin Reddan.

BENETTON TREVISO: B Williams; L Nitoglia, A Pratichetti, C Loamanu, A Esposito; M Berquist, F Semenzato; A De Marchi, F Sbaraglini, I Fernandez-Royet; M Fuser, C van Zyl; M Vosawai, D Budd, M Filippucci.

LEINSTER: D Hudson; L Tuqiri, B Macken, N Reid, D Fanning; J Gopperth, J Cooney; M Bent, A Dundon, M Moore; T Denton, Q Roux; R Ruddock, S Jennings, L Auva’a.

Referee: N Paterson (SRU).


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