LIKE APOLLO CREED versus Rocky Balboa minus the girlfriend that works in a pet store, welcome Celtic rugby’s glitziest grudge match. The RaboDirect Pro12 is their sparring ground but the gloves are off this evening.
Here are you teams for this evening’s tilt at the Liberty Stadium:
LEINSTER: R Kearney; F McFadden, B Macken, G D’Arcy, D Kearney; J Gopperth, I Boss: C Healy, S Cronin, M Ross; D Toner, M McCarthy ; K McLaughlin, S O’Brien, J Heaslip (c)
Replacements: A Dundon, J McGrath, M Moore, Q Roux, R Ruddock, E Reddan, I Madigan, L Fitzgerald.
OSPREYS: R Fussell; B John, A Bishop, A Beck; E Walker; D Biggar, T Tepaldi: D Jones, R Hibbard, A Jones; AW Jones (Capt.) J king; R Jones, J Tipuric, J Bearman.
Replacements: S Baldwin, R Bevington, A Jarvis, T Ardron, S Lewis, T Habberfield, M Morgan, J Hassler.
Both squads are littered with Lions and have gone at each other like well-fed lumberjacks in recent years.
To get you in the mood for this evening’s match, here are some highlights of the pulsating league draw played out between the two sides in September. Check out Dave Kearney’s fantastic try after some neat acceleration by Jimmy Gopperth:
Leinster 3-6 Ospreys: Jimmy Gopperth gets Leinster off the mark with another routine penalty (14 mins).
Shortly thereafter, Leinster make another elementary error as Kearney kicks straight out of play.
Mike Ross has unfortunately had to go off injured. Martin Moore comes on in his place.
It’ll be interesting to see how the scrum holds up as a result.
Awesome strength from Sean O’Brien, who barrels through two players, before eventually being tackled.
As he releases it, the ball is knocked on however, and Ospreys consequently regain the initiative, ultimately kicking to earn a lineout just outside the visitors’ 22.
Another Ospreys penalty and this time they opt for a scrum, as they’re well positioned inside the 22.
A great effort from the Leinster pack, as they come out on top, with the official penalising their opponents.
TRY FOR LEINSTER!
Leinster 10-6 Ospreys: Great running from Cronin, who bursts through the Ospreys defence deep in their 22, before offloading to the onrushing Sean O’Brien, who can’t be prevented from crossing over and registering the try, despite the best efforts of the Welsh side’s defence (29 mins).
Gopperth adds the conversion to give the Irish side a four-point advantage.
Jamie Heaslip has been influential for Leinster so far.
It was his powerful run that started the break that led to the game’s first try.
Leinster 13-6 Ospreys:Gopperth retains his 100% record by slotting an impressively executed penalty over from around the halfway line (34 mins).
He’s certainly justifying his selection ahead of Madigan, as all of a sudden, Leinster have established a decent lead.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS 6-13 LEINSTER
So it’s been a “half of two halves” as a colleague put it.
Ospreys were on top early on. However, the Irish side have come back strongly in the last 15 minutes.
The turning point was arguably Leinster winning a scrum against the head deep in their own 22.
From there, they seemed to grow in confidence, and Sean O’Brien’s excellently taken try was the culmination of their increasing dominance.
Leinster’s encouraging performance is perhaps somewhat surprising, given their poor record against Ospreys in recent times.
And they’re by no means safe yet, as the tweet below indicates.
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