Leinster v Cheetahs
Guinness PRO14, Round 17
R.D.S., Dublin @7:35 pm, Friday 1st March 2019
Referee: Nigel Owens TV: eir Sports 1
Positions: Leinster (1st in Conference B – 68pts) Cheetahs (6th in Conference A – 36pts)
Leinster have once again illustrated the strength in depth of their squad, as despite missing their frontline players in Ireland camp for the last few weeks, Leo Cullen shuffled his deck once again and has made nine personnel changes from last weekends 59 v 19 win over the Southern Kings.
Plenty of fringe players have been given valuable game time over the last few weeks, as some familiar faces return from injury and some fresher faces get their chance to shine. The front row sees Peter Dooley and Michael Bent line up either side of Bryan Byrne, while the second row remains unchanged as Ross Molony partners Scott Fardy. In the back row, Rhys Ruddock joins Max Deegan and Caelan Doris.
The half-back pairing sees Jamison Gibson-Park come in for Hugh O’Sullivan alongside Ross Byrne. Rory O’Loughlin returns to the centre for Noel Reid, as Conor O’Brien is retained. while Adam Byrne and Fergus McFadden will start on the wings and Dave Kearney returns from concussion to play at fullback this weekend.
The Cheetahs are on their third game of a three-week block of away matches, having lost to both Connacht and Scarlets in rounds 15 & 16. Their small travelling squad has been stretched and some of their players have played 160 minutes over the last two weekends. One would expect this to show as the game goes on and it’s hard to see anything other than another comfortable win for a Leinster side still shorn of their Irish contingent.