France the ideal setting for Leinsters exciting attack to be unleashed again

first_img EVERYONE ATTACHED TO Leinster is excited. A Champions Cup semi-final tends to bring that, of course, but the anticipation is about more than the occasion. It centres around the way Leinster have been playing in recent times.They have been a thrilling attacking force for much of this season and the latest chance to see them put Stuart Lancaster’s ambitious philosophy into action is simply exciting. Robbie Henshaw will be key in midfield again. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHOBut even with Clermont’s clear talent and their sheer desperation to give themselves another final shot at a Champions Cup crown, Leinster have enough to win away from home and face into the daunting task of taking down Saracens.Whether that proves to be the case or not, we should expect Leinster to provide the thrills once again. Joeuz!Leinster:15. Joey Carbery14. Fergus McFadden13. Garry Ringrose12. Robbie Henshaw11. Isa Nacewa (captain)10. Johnny Sexton9. Luke McGrath1. Jack McGrath2. Richardt Strauss3. Tadhg Furlong4. Devin Toner5. Hayden Triggs6. Rhys Ruddock7. Dan Leavy8. Jack ConanReplacements:16. Seán Cronin17. Peter Dooley18. Michael Bent19. Ross Molony20. Josh van der Flier21. Jamison Gibson-Park22. Ross Byrne23. Zane KirchnerClermont:15. Scott Spedding14. David Strettle13. Aurelien Rougerie12. Remi Lamerat11. Nick Abendanon10. Camille Lopez9. Morgan Parra1. Raphael Chaume2. Benjamin Kayser3. Davit Zirakashvili4. Arthur Iturria5. Sébastien Vahaamahina6. Damien Chouly (captain)7. Peceli Yato8. Fritz LeeReplacements:16. John Ulugia17. Etienne Falgoux18. Aaron Jarvis19. Paul Jedrasiak20. Alexandre Lapandry21. Ludovic Radosavljevic22. Patricio Fernandez23. Damien PenaudReferee: Nigel Owens [WRU].McCall believes Saracens can be better and sees brighter future for Munster‘It’s hugely reassuring that Rassie’s staying’ — Scannell By Murray Kinsella Apr 23rd 2017, 8:00 AM 17,212 Views Short URL Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article Share Tweet Email1 Sunday 23 Apr 2017, 8:00 AM France the ideal setting for Leinster’s exciting attack to be unleashed again Clermont have undoubted quality but Leinster are an exciting attacking force. 24 Comments Leinster have been relentless in attack this season. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHOIt’s unlikely that Leinster will close up against Clermont today [KO 3pm Irish time, Sky Sports] after a European campaign of offloading cleverly and scoring tries freely.The players are more engaged than ever in wearing their provincial jersey, the coaching staff appear to be totally confident in what they’re preaching, and Leinster’s supporters are proud to be behind a team that plays with this kind of attacking style.The intent and execution that Leinster showed in the quarter-final against Wasps is the template.Joey Carbery’s kick return, Tadhg Furlong’s passing ability, Robbie Henshaw’s intelligent partnership with Garry Ringrose, Jack Conan’s dynamism and energy, Jack McGrath and Devin Toner’s work rate – the reasons to be convinced Leinster can win against Clermont this afternoon are multiple.Of course, playing in France is a great challenge and anyone who thinks Clermont’s journey to Lyon will dampen their advantage should wait to hear and see what an extra 20,000 of these brilliant, rugby-loving lunatics bring to the occasion in a bigger stadium.But in a way, seeing Leinster open up the way they did against Wasps, on French soil this time, would be fitting.There is a Leinster link in the Clermont ranks, with Jono Gibbes heading into the final months of his time in charge of the Top 14 side’s forward pack before he moves to Ulster this summer in a bid to help the northern province turn their ship around. Camille Lopez and Aurelien Rougerie start in the backline. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHOFormer All Black Gibbes would be frustrated to leave the Auvergne without helping ASM over the line in the Champions Cup, and he has a formidable pack to send thundering at Leinster today, particularly with Sébastien Vahaamahina, Davit Zirakashvili and Benjamin Kayser unsurprisingly coming through injury issues that the French club highlighted early in the week.As is always the case, Clermont are a slick machine when they get dominance up front, though they have shown flaws this season too. Ulster chopped their defence to shreds in a pool stage win over Franck Azéma’s men, while their Top 14 form has not always been totally convincing.Leinster’s pack was hit with a blow this week when Sean O’Brien was forced out with a hamstring issue that he will hope to nip in the bud, but while they lose in experience at openside, Dan Leavy is a more than capable replacement.Indeed, having Leavy in the seven shirt alongside Conan and the steady influence of Rhys Ruddock seems rather fitting in a season where new stars have emerged for Leo Cullen’s side.One of those men has missed out, admittedly, with Adam Byrne omitted from the match day squad altogether. He is still learning how to defend at the top level and Fergus McFadden was mightily impressive coming on against Wasps, offloading for Conan’s try and scoring one of his own in the second half.Zane Kirchner’s versatility gets him the nod in the 23 shirt to Byrne’s frustration but it is difficult to pick holes in the Leinster squad. Cian Healy’s absence through suspension is a disappointment, but Peter Dooley fits the bill for a province that has invested in youth.Johnny Sexton is the guiding hand overseeing those who continue to learn about top-level European rugby and his composure will be vital, particularly with opposite number Camille Lopez capable of making game-changing plays and freeing the impactful Remi Lamerat in midfield.last_img read more

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