Leinster out to continue winning run
January 4, 2012
Glasgow's Al Kellock lifted the 1872 Cup after his side's victory over Edinburgh © PA Photos
Leinster will go in search of a tenth successive win in the RaboDirect Pro12 when they face the Cardiff Blues on Saturday.
The Irish province lead the standings by six points from the Ospreys after securing a narrow 15-13 victory over Connacht last weekend. Cardiff go into the match on the back of a spat, on and off the pitch, with Welsh rivals Ospreys. The Blues boss Justin Burnell accused the Ospreys of "negative rugby" during their 17-12 defeat at Liberty Stadium.
Leinster trounced the Blues 52-9 when the two sides met in Dublin at the beginning of December and the Blues will be gunning for revenge in the rerun in Wales.
The Ospreys will have the chance to close the gap on Leinster, however briefly, when they travel to the Dragons on Friday night. The Dragons are on a six-game losing streak in the league and have scored just one try in their last four Pro12 matches. Another defeat for the Dragons could see them drop to bottom, as they hold just a three-point - with a game in hand - advantage over Aironi. And the Dragons have named Aled Brew at outside centre for the clash with Dan Lydiate captaining the side for the first time. Jason Tovey lines up at fly-half with Lewis Evans replacing the injured Gavin Thomas in the pack.
Dragons boss Darren Edwards has backed Brew to do a job in the outside centre channel. "Aled Brew's move to 13 from the wing will be a challenge for him but getting the ball to our fastest players has to be a priority and Aled is proven to be a devastating strike runner," he said. "With Tonderai [Chavhanga] and Will [Harries] on the wings, there are plenty of options out wide."
The Ospreys will hope the current speculation over the replacement for Scott Johnson will not infiltrate the team and affect their performances in the second half of the season. And the second-placed side have made a number of changes to their line-up for the trip to Rodney Parade. Eli Walker, Tom Isaacs and Rhys Webb are added to the back division, while in the pack former Dragon Joe Bearman, Tom Smith, Ian Evans, Aaron Jarvis, Huw Bennett and Duncan Jones all start.
And in Friday's other clash, Edinburgh host Irish side Ulster. Ulster have named a host of international players in the side to face the Scottish side with Andrew Trimble, Stephen Ferris, Tom Court and Rory Best all back in the team. Ruan Pienaar and Ian Humphreys continue in the half-backs. Edinburgh, meanwhile, name Chris Paterson at fullback and he is joined in the side by Nick De Luca and James King. Tim Visser and Tom Brown return on the wings for Michael Bradley's side. In the pack, the all-international front-row of Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford and Geoff Cross come into the side, while Esteban Lozada, Sean Cox and Roddy Grant also start.
High-flying Glasgow secured a draw and a win from their recent 1872 Cup Scottish derbies against Edinburgh to preserve their place in the play-off places. And they go up against sixth place Scarlets at Parc Y Scarlets on Saturday as they look to close the gap on the Ospreys ahead of them. The Scarlets beat the Dragons in a low-scoring encounter last weekend and are now level on points with fifth-place Cardiff.
Treviso head to Thomond Park to face Munster on Saturday on a high from their victory over Italian rivals Aironi. Treviso claimed a try-bonus point as they beat Aironi 37-14 at Stadio Comunale di Monigo.
In Saturday's other game Aironi host Connacht at Stadio Luigi Zaffanella. Both teams will be looking to bounce back from recent defeats with the Irish province not having won in the league since September.
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