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Leinster vs Glasgow; Pro 14 Final Preview & Key Battles

Leinster and Glasgow will face off at Celtic Park on Saturday night and here’s everything you need to know ahead of the final game of the season

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(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Johnny Sexton has made a return to the Leinster line-up for their Pro 14 final against Glasgow in Celtic Park on Saturday at 18 30. 

The captain has taken the No 10 jersey back from Ross Byrne who played who played last weekend’s semi-final against Munster in one of three changes to the side.

Another change in the back-line sees Rob Kearney come in for his brother Dave at full-back with Jordan Larmour switching to the wing. While in the second-row Scott Fardy replaces the injured Devin Toner.

Apart from that it’s as you were with Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Tadhg Furlong knuckling down in the front-row, with Fardy joining James Ryan in the engine room.

Rhys Ruddock is at blindside flanker, with Josh van der Flier retaining his spot at openside following a man of the match comeback performance last week, with Jack Conan continuing at No 8.

Luke McGrath partners Sexton in the half-backs, with Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose linking up in the centre.

The ever-impressive James Lowe begins the game on the left-wing, with Larmour on the right and Kearney at 15.

Sean O’Brien has been kept out of the side meaning he won’t get to play another game for the province before his summer departure to London Irish. While Jack McGrath has been denied his chance at a final goodbye before moving to Ulster as Ed Byrne is chosen on the bench.

The visitors have strength among their replacements with Byrne being joined by the likes of twin brother Bryan, Ross Molony, Ross Bryne and Rory O’Loughlin.

Speaking ahead of the game prop Healy admitted he watched the Warriors 50-20 win over Ulster last weekend and has warned his side to be ready.

“I watched their game on Friday – they looked pretty dangerous,” he said.

While Leinster will be hoping for back-to-back titles Glasgow will want to dethrone them in front of the Scottish crowd.

For the Warriors it’s Jamie Bhatti, Fraser Brown and Zander Fagerson are the front-three, with Scott Cummins and Jonny Gray pairing in the second-row.

In the back-row it’s Rob Harley at six, Callum Gibbins at seven and Matt Fagerson at eight to finish up the pack.

Ali Price and Adam Hastings continue their partnership in the half-backs at scrum-half and out-half respectively, while it’s Sam Johnson and Kyle Steyn in the centre.

DTH van der Merwe opens at 11, with Tommy Seymour at 14 and Stuart Hogg at 15 in what will be his final appearance for the club before his move to Exeter Chiefs.

There is plenty to call upon from the bench with the Ryan Wilson, George and Peter Horne and Huw Jones among those ready to make an impact if needed.

The element of home advantage is one that flanker Harley is hoping the fans will take advantage of when the time comes.

“Celtic Park is a great stadium. We’re really looking forward to packing it out with our fans,” he said.

Key Battles:

Fraser Brown vs Sean Cronin:

This will be an intriguing battle as both will have to be spot on with the line-out and give everything in the scrum. Experience will help both but there will be a harder task for Brown in open-play as he will need to keep an eye on his opposite number who has been a lethal try-scorer this season and would love to get another in the final.

Jonny Gray vs James Ryan:

Home advantage will mean nothing to Gray as he faces up to arguably the best lock in the world at the moment. Both put in sensational tackling figures to go along with their attacking metres they gain as well as the line-out battle, this could be the place where the game is won or lost.

Ali Price vs Luke McGrath:

These two will both be out to impress their national team coaches ahead of the World Cup later this year and a strong performance in the final could earn them a ticket to Japan. Price’s pace will be a worry for McGrath, while the Leinster man’s kicking game could cause problems for the Warriors.

Tommy Seymour vs James Lowe:

A Scottish legend coming up against one of the brightest sparks of this Leinster side. You wouldn’t bet against either getting a try and the way they defend one another could be the vital component of who wins this individual war.

Stuart Hogg vs Rob Kearney:

This is a man departing his club up against a man who could be leaving his beloved blues with both out to prove a point. Hogg is a danger in any match he plays, while Kearney will be hoping to put any fans or coaches doubts about him to bed with a solid performance which could be his last for the club.

Both teams finished top of their respective conferences and there is no doubt that the two best teams have reached the final showpiece. With only a day to go until kick-off there is still no separating the two sides as they seek the domestic crown once again.


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Match Report: Vodacom Bulls 28-14 Connacht

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Another tough day at the office for Connacht after a disappointing 28-14 defeat to the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

It’s a third defeat in-a-row for the Western province, having already lost their opening two matches which were both away to Ulster and the defending BKT URC Champions Stormers.

Coming up against the Bulls was always going to be a tough test and the home side looked to show their power early but were denied by the TMO after mauling over the try line where Johan Grobbelaar’s try was ruled out.

Not long after though, Connacht looked to attack and stretch the home sides defence but there was one pass too many when John Porch under pressure by Canan Moodie tried to set Oran McNulty off only for the ball to be misplaced, ending up with Bulls full-back Kurt-Lee Arendse who ran from his own half where no one could catch him from scoring the opening try.

The Bulls widened their advantage on the ten minute mark, second-row Walt Steenkamp powered his way to an inch of the try line where scrum-half Zak Burger finished off to make it Bulls 14-0 Connacht.

As the game went on Connacht started to get their hands more on the ball but couldn’t find a break through with some errors creeping into their game as they looked to claw back the lead.

Nearing 20 minutes on the clock, the Bulls were reduced to 14-men when Marco van Staden was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle. Despite having the extra man Connacht couldn’t make the numbers count.

Connacht showed plenty of glimpses of what they can do but the Bulls defence were ready to suffocate any danger that came their way.

The half came to an end with the Bulls getting their third try of the game, Marcell Coetzee bashing his way over the line, Goosen adding the extra two points to leave it 21-0 at the break.

Connacht showed a lot more promise and composure on the ball in the second forty but it was the Bulls who got the opening score of the half when Connacht were turned over. From the attack, second-row Ruan Nortje punched through a gap in the Connacht defence where he released Burger for his second try of the game. Another conversion by Goosen made it 28-0.

As the half went on the home side saw two further yellow cards, a high tackle from Goosen on Kieran Marmion just after 50mins and then Jan-Hendrick Wessels for a late hit on David Hawkshaw in the 65th minute.

Playing with an extra man Connacht took advantage, tries from Jack Aungier, his second of the season which both came in South Africa. Aungier showed great strength to power over from close range. Hawkshaw converted with ten minutes to go.

Hawkshaw making his first start for the club got his own try when blocking down Chris Smith’s attempted clearance, he gathered the loose ball before going under the posts. The conversion made it 28-14 to the home team which would be the final result.

Up next for Connacht is a massive Interprovincial-derby at home to Munster.

Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby


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Dweba on DHL Stormers debut against Edinburgh

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Springbok hooker Joseph Dweba will make his DHL Stormers debut in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship match against Edinburgh at DHL Stadium on Saturday.

Dweba’s inclusion is one of six changes to the team for the encounter with the Scottish outfit, which kicks off at 14h00 on Saturday. CLICK HERE to buy your match tickets now.

His fellow Springboks Damian Willemse, Deon Fourie and Salmaan Moerat all come straight into the starting line-up, with Herschel Jantjies among the replacements and Marvin Orie taking the captaincy.

There are two positional switches in the backline, with Dan du Plessis at outside centre and Suleiman Hartzenberg shifting to the wing in place of the injured Seabelo Senatla, while up front Neethling Fouche comes in at tighthead prop.

DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson said that the team is looking forward to their first match at DHL Stadium since the Vodacom United Rugby Championship Grand Final last season.

“It is great to have a few of our top players back from national duty and they have all slotted in seamlessly this week.

“We are all looking forward to getting out there at DHL Stadium in an early game which should be a great occasion for everyone,” he said.

DHL Stormers: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Damian Willemse, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Hacjivah Dayimani, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Marvin Orie (captain), 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Adre Smith, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Junior Pokomela, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Sacha Mngomezulu.

Content & Images from – Stormers Rugby


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Reed to start clash with Sharks

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Fly half Will Reed will make his first appearance of the season when Dragons RFC face Cell C Sharks in the BKT United Rugby Championship at Rodney Parade on Saturday (kick-off 7.35pm).

The Men of Gwent make a total of three changes to the side that defeated Munster Rugby in the first game of the season on home soil last weekend.

Reed is the only change to the back line, with JJ Hanrahan ruled out of the game as a precaution after picking up a knock in training. Hanrahan is expected to be fit for Round 4.

Lock Ben Carter is recalled to partner captain Will Rowlands in the second row. Carter’s return sees George Nott move into the back row to occupy the blindside flanker jersey.

The final change is a first start of the season for Wales international hooker Elliot Dee, with Bradley Roberts moving to the bench.

The return of lock Joe Davies is the only other change among the replacements.

Head Coach Dai Flanagan said: “Sharks will be physical and there is a lot of quality in their side. We need to make sure we match the physicality they bring and stay true to ourselves.

“It was a big result and performance by us against Munster last time out. Now we must replicate it, match it and ensure we get better week by week.

“We need to step forward as a squad again and if we you stay true to ourselves, work hard, we’ll be in this fight together.”

Dragons RFC: Angus O’Brien, Rio Dyer, Sio Tomkinson, Jack Dixon, Ashton Hewitt, Will Reed, Rhodri Williams; Aki Seiuli, Elliot Dee, Lloyd Fairbrother, Ben Carter, Will Rowlands (c), George Nott, Taine Basham, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Bradley Roberts, Rob Evans, Chris Coleman, Joe Davies, Aaron Wainwright, Lewis Jones, Max Clark, Jordan Williams.

Unavailable: Leon Brown (neck), Sam Davies (knee), Ollie Griffiths (back), JJ Hanrahan (knock), Rhodri Jones (calf), Harri Keddie (ankle), Aneurin Owen (hamstring).

Dragons RFC can confirm lock Huw Taylor and back row Lennon Greggains are set for loan spells in the English Championship.

Taylor, 26, has moved to Goldington Road to link-up with Bedford Blues while Greggains, 23, will have a spell with Hartpury University RFC to gain valuable game time.

Greggains joins team-mate Ellis Shipp, 25, who has been on loan at Hartpury this month. The hooker has started two of the club’s opening three league fixtures.

Content & Images from – Dragons Rugby


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