Rain will hit Dublin tomorrow, leaving a greasy surface and a damp crowd, much like last Saturday, but the Aviva pitch should handle it better than the Rec.
There are a few changes from last week, the most notable is Jack Conan starting in a reshuffle of the back row. With van der Flier and Leavy in the flanker positions, Ruddock makes way for Conan, who is a better number eight than the others. The back row looks a lot more balanced this week.
Bath scored their try after Leavy tried to carry the ball from the base of the scrum, deep in his own twenty-two. It was a messy scrum, so Leavy doesn’t carry all the blame, but having an out-and-out number eight feels safer at the base of the scrum this week.
There is also shuffle in the back three also with Rob Kearney withdrawn from the match day squad. Jordan Larmour slots into full back with Adam Byrne coming into the wing position.
Noel Reid swaps places with Rory O’Laughlin who slots into inside centre. James Lowe, who played well last week, retains the number eleven jersey and with Gibson-Park on the bench, there is once again no space for Scott Fardy.
|Cian Healy||1||Jacques van Rooyen|
|Sean Cronin||2||Tom Dunn|
|Tadgh Furlong||3||Henry Thomas|
|Devin Toner||4||Dave Atwood|
|James Ryan||5||Charlie Ewels (Captain)|
|Dan Leavy||6||Tom Ellis|
|Josh van der Flier||7||Sam Underhill|
|Jack Conan||8||Francois Louw|
|Luke McGrath||9||Will Chudley|
|Johnny Sexton (Captain)||10||James Wilson|
|James Lowe||11||Cooper Vuna|
|Rory O’Loughlin||12||Jamie Roberts|
|Garry Ringrose||13||Jackson Willison|
|Adam Byrne||14||Semesa Rokoduguni|
|Jordan Larmour||15||Ruaridh McConnochie|
|James Tracy||16||Jack Walker|
|Ed Byrne||17||Nathan Catt|
|Andrew Porter||18||Max Lahiff|
|Ross Molony||19||Elliot Stooke|
|Rhys Ruddock||20||Matt Garvey|
|Jamison Gibson-Park||21||Kahn Foruali’i|
|Ross Byrne||22||Alex Davies|
|Noel Reid||23||Darren Atkins|
There is going to be a back-lash. There has to be. Leinster have enough to see them through it, but much like last year, when Exeter scared us by taking an early lead, I expect Leinster to be stronger in the second half.
The wind will not be as strong tomorrow. It was to blame for a lot of wayward throwing and kicking, making possession the name of the game and turning it into a slug-fest in the mud.
Cronin will thank his lucky stars that his throw to the back of the line out, which finished a metre and a half behind the line led directly to Jordan Larmour’s intercept try.
The home crowd were stunned and a bit put out at the early end to the advantage. The away fans just glad to be in front at last. Things were not going to plan at all.
It turned into a bit of a stalemate with neither side able to unlock the other and with mistakes ruining most promising attacks.
The weather is promised very wet. While it didn’t rain much during the match last week, the damage had been done to the ground, making everything slippy. It will not be much better tomorrow.
I think our line out will improve with more moderate breezes, and a more balanced scrum will allow at least parity there.
The young back three have a more exciting look and feel, with Larmour fresh from his International exploits looking to impress.
Expect more tries this week, but probably mostly from forwards. Leinster to edge two scores in front towards the end.
Referee: Pascal Gauzère