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Leinster off to flying start

Monday 9th October 2006

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 09/10/2006 09:57

- 09/10/2006 09:57

Leinster, second in the Celtic league last season, go into the Heineken hoping to emulate the achievement of their rivals Munster in last year’s competition

Having lost to the champions in last year’s semi-finals, the Dublin side avenged the defeat earlier this month, beating Munster 27-20 at Lansdowne Road, and have a fine history in a competition they have yet to win.

European Challenge Cup holders Gloucester, meanwhile, are unbeaten in the Guinness Premiership this season, and currently lie third.

The 2004 quarter-finalists, excelled in Europe last term, and now have the chance to test themselves against Europe’s elite.

The Leinster squad to face Gloucester in Saturday’s opening Heineken Cup pool 2 clash, which is an all-ticket affair, in Lansdowne Road (KO: 5.30pm) has been named.

Brian Blaney starts in the number two jersey having had his disciplinary hearing dismissed on Tuesday and he is joined by Ronan McCormack (suspension), Shane Horgan (shoulder) and Girvan Dempsey (shoulder) who all missed last weekend’s game.

Should Dempsey and Malcolm O’Kelly feature in this week’s game then they would make their 50th Heineken Cup appearances. Andrew Dunne is also included in the squad for the first time.

Carlos Nieto, the Italian tight-head prop, will make his first Gloucester start.  The set-piece specialist will also make his Heineken Cup debut after successfully returning from a shoulder injury in Gloucester’s 33-24 victory over Worcester in the Guinness Premiership last Friday.

Nieto will line-up in an all-international front row alongside Welshman Mefin Davies and loose-head Christian Califano, who has 33 European Cup games to his name after spells with Toulouse and Agen and replaces Nick Wood.

In the backs, four players will be making their debuts. Stand-off Ryan Lamb, centres Jack Adams and Anthony Allen (all 20) and wing Mark Foster will gain their first experience in the competition. 

Full-back Iain Balshaw has made 19 appearances in the competition for Bath, while Peter Richards has played for four different clubs in the European Cup. 

“Being part of this tournament was a reward for what we managed to achieve last season,” Ryan said of his Challenge Cup victors. “I don’t think there is any greater stage than Lansdowne Road in the Heineken Cup and it will obviously be a huge test for this team. 

“In my opinion they produced the performance of the tournament last year when they beat Toulouse away and we obviously have a team with a low percentage of players who have been exposed to this competition.

“It will be an enormous challenge but I am sure we are capable of winning – I am sure we will learn more about this group on Saturday – it’s a fantastic opportunity for everybody.”

Match Centre - Preview - Lineups

Leinster off to flying start

Monday 9th October 2006

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 09/10/2006 09:57

- 09/10/2006 09:57

Leinster got their noses out on front in Pool 2 as they picked up a priceless bonus point in front of another massive Heineken Cup crowd at Lansdowne road.

Having opened last season’s last European account with a shock home defeat against Bath, their fleet footed backs ensured their were no slip ups this time against west country opposition.

It took less than two minutes for home centre Gordon D’Arcy to skip past his opposite number and bag the first of three tries in the opening half.

It that was meant as a warning for the young pretenders in the Gloucester back division they certainly weren’t intimidated and within seven minutes the English club were ahead thanks to a thrilling try from Mark Foster and five points from the boot of Ryan Lamb.

It was nip and tuck throughout a frenetic first half, but 16 consecutive points in a 20 minute period from Argentinean ace Felipe Contepomi turned the game very much the home side’s way.

The Leinster outside half conjured up a try at the posts after a chip and chase and then landed three successive penalties after the conversion.

 Then some more exciting back play, after Gloucester had spilled the ball in the home 22, allowed Stephen Keogh to grab a third try – Contepomi’s conversion extending the lead to 20 points.

Once again Gloucester hit back and an injury time try by Jack Adams, converted by lamb, gave the visitors some hope.

A lamb penalty nine minutes into the second half cut the gap to 10 points, but not even the sin binning of Leinster second row Malcolm O’Kelly could tip the scales in Gloucester favour.

In fact, while O’Kelly was on the touchline, Shane Horgan grabbed the bonus point try on the hour and Contepomi’s conversion wrapped up the scoring.

The game became rather loose in the final quarter and French referee Christophe Berdos had to be replaced five minutes from time after receiving a cut to the head that needed seven stitches.


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