Leinster will be keen to bounce back in Pro 12 test against Ospreys

Depleted Ospreys still a threat as they know how to win at RDS

While there’s little point in dwelling on the abject nature of last week’s performance in Italy, Leinster will look to harness the frustration and disappointment in producing a quality of rugby that’s more representative of the talent and the standards demanded by the players and management.

The resumption of the European Champions Cup and the Irish province’s two pivotal fixtures, back-to-back against Harlequins are in the background but they’ll want to establish momentum on the strength of a high-calibre performance going into those games.

The Ospreys, even without seven players who are engaged with Wales, represent a tough test. The visitors, more than any other team in the Guinness Pro 12, have proved to be a handful for Leinster in the past; they know how to win in the RDS.

They too are coming off a defeat, their first of the season, when losing to Ulster in Belfast and coach, Steve Tandy is looking for a positive reaction. He explained: “To have worked our way back into it from the position we were in at half-time, to be in with a real chance of not just taking a bonus point but actually winning it, showed we are developing a group that has real character”


The Ospreys trailed 18-3 but came back to 18-16 before Ulster finally managed to nudge free on the scoreboard.

Six changes

Leinster coach Matt O'Connor has made six changes but the one likely to provoke the most debate is electing to start Ian Madigan at inside centre. Jimmy Gopperth struggled last week but he retains the number 10 jersey, while the starting back three from the Treviso match remain the same, including Darragh Fanning who grabbed another brace of tries.

Madigan is partnered by the returning Fergus McFadden, fit after ankle injury: both take intelligent running lines and are aggressive carriers, something they’ll hope to showcase if Leinster look to be a little more nuanced in their attacking patterns.

Eoin Reddan is back at scrumhalf and will lead the team. Up front hooker Richardt Strauss and flanker Kevin McLaughlin failed to recover from injuries suffered last week, while Luke Fitzgerald who withdrew last weekend, is also out. Bryan Byrne starts at hooker while Dominic Ryan's return gives Leinster an athletic backrow.

Winning is important but also the manner of Leinster's performance and last weekend demands a backlash.

LEINSTER: Z Kirchner; D Fanning , F McFadden, I Madigan, D Kearney ; J Gopperth, E Reddan(capt); M Bent, B Byrne, T Furlong; M McCarthy, K Douglas; D Ryan, J Murphy, J Conan. Replacements: J Tracy, P Dooley, J Hagan, T Denton, R Ruddock, I Boss, N Reid, G D'Arcy. OSPREYS: D Evans; A Natoga, A Bishop, H Dirksen, T Grabham; S Davies, M Roberts; M Thomas, S Parry, D Arhip; L Peers (capt), T Ardron; J Bearman, S Lewis, D Baker. Replacements: S Otten, G Thomas, C Griffiths, R Bernardo, I Jones, T Habberfield, J Matavesi, D Howells. Referee: Maruis Mitrea (Italy). Verdict: Leinster to win.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer