Leinster v Connacht - RaboDirect PRO12 match preview

Last Updated: 29/12/12 5:10pm

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Leinster will be hoping to gain ground on the leading pack in the RaboDirect PRO12 when lowly Connacht visit Dublin on Saturday.

Shane Jennings leads a young Leinster team against Connacht and the back-row forward is one of six Ireland internationals in the starting line-up.

Amongst them is Fergus McFadden, who starts on the right wing in a back three alongside Fionn Carr and full-back Andrew Conway.

Ian Madigan lies in third place in the league's accumulators list with 74 points in 11 PRO12 games so far and he will pair up with Isaac Boss at half back.

In the pack, Heinke van der Merwe is named in the front row alongside Aaron Dundon and Ireland prop Michael Bent, with Devin Toner partnering Ben Marshall at second row.

Head coach Eric Elwood has made four personnel changes to the starting XV as Connacht pursue a season double over the European champions after defeating them 34-6 at the Sportsground in September.

Winger Matt Healy earns his first start and cap for the province. The 23-year-old joined Connacht this season and has made a notable impression with the Connacht Eagles whilst competing in the British & Irish cup.

Danie Poolman moves to the right wing and makes way for Eoin Griffin who resumes his centre partnership with Dave McSharry.

In the pack, Denis Buckley is named in the front row alongside Jason Harris-Wright and Nathan White, who captains the side. Michael Swift, who returned from injury last week and came off the bench against Munster, will partner George Naoupu in the second row.

Leinster: 15: Andrew Conway, 14: Fergus McFadden, 13: Brendan Macken, 12: Andrew Goodman, 11: Fionn Carr, 10: Ian Madigan, 9: Isaac Boss, 1: Heinke van der Merwe, 2: Aaron Dundon, 3: Michael Bent, 4: Ben Marshall, 5: Devin Toner, 6: Rhys Ruddock, 7: Shane Jennings (c), 8: Jordi Murphy.
Replacements: 16: Sean Cronin, 17: Jack McGrath, 18: Mike Ross, 19: Leo Cullen, 20: Dominic Ryan, 21: John Cooney, 22: Noel Reid, 23: Adam Byrne.

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 1 Denis Buckley, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 3 Nathan White (c), 4 Michael Swift, 5 George Naoupu, 6 Andrew Browne, 7. Johnny O'Connor, 8 Eoin McKeon.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Brett Wilkinson, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Eoghan Grace, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Tiernan O'Halloran.

What they said...

Leinster back Andrew Conway

"Connacht have built on a good win against us earlier in the year and have pushed on with big results and we know that we have to really up our performance levels on Saturday, because they're a side who can hurt you," said Conway.

"Looking at their defeat to Munster last weekend, they probably felt that it was a game which they could have, maybe should have won. So they'll be looking to come to the RDS and aiming to do a job on us.

"From our perspective it has been a frustrating last few weeks. Our performance over in Stade Marcel Michelin was pretty good but over the last two games we haven't been clinical enough and we have been disappointed with aspects of our play."

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