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Connacht 17:00 Dragons

RaboDirect Pro12: Leinster look to maintain title bid

Last Updated: 04/01/14 2:16pm

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Brian O'Driscoll: Returns in the centre for Leinster alongside Gordon D'Arcy

Brian O'Driscoll: Returns in the centre for Leinster alongside Gordon D'Arcy

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Second-placed Leinster travel to Connacht on Saturday hoping to stay in touch with leaders Munster in the RaboDirect PRO12.

With Munster in action on Friday, Leinster could go into the clash with Connacht in Galway as many as 12 points behind their Irish rivals.

Matt O'Connor's side battled to a 19-6 victory at home to Ulster last time out but lost their previous away game 11-6 to Edinburgh the weekend before, so will be hoping to avoid successive defeats on their travels.

O'Connor has made 10 changes for a match they go into as heavy favourites against their struggling hosts, Connacht having won just twice all season.

Experienced duo Gordon D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll return in the centres while there is a reshuffle behind them as Zane Kirchner moves to the right wing with Rob Kearney coming in for brother Dave to start at full-back. Luke Fitzgerald continues on the left wing.

Amongst the forwards, captain Jamie Heaslip returns with Jordi Murphy moving to flanker. Jack McGrath joins Martin Moore and ex-Connacht hooker Sean Cronin in the front row as Devin Toner and Tom Denton replace Leo Cullen and Mike McCarthy in the second row.

Full debut

Connacht, meanwhile, hand a first start to 21-year-old fly-half Jack Carty in one of three changes to a backline with an average age of just 22.

Kieran Marmion starts alongside Carty, at scrum-half, in what will be his 44th consecutive game since making his debut in 2012.

An injury to Gavin Duffy sees Darragh Leader called up at full-back for just his fourth game of the season.

The pack is unchanged meaning that flanker Andrew Browne will earn his 100th cap for the province of his birth and Craig Clarke will captain Pat Lam's side.

The meeting between the teams earlier in the season was far closer than Leinster would have liked and it required a late penalty try for them to record a 16-13 win at the RDS.

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