By Tadgh Peavoy
Shorn of their Ireland internationals, Leinster take to the field weakened, but still offering plenty of threat against Treviso today at Stadio Comunale di Monigo, 2pm (Irish).
Jimmy Gopperth has had a superb season so far, and will lead the line at ten, with the very promising centre pairing of Noel Reid and Brendan Macken outside him.
The centres have both given real glimpses of promise this season, and this marks another opportunity for them to show their wares.
The absence of both Gordon D’Arcy and Brian O’Driscoll also reveals an interesting chance to see both players line up in the starting XV together.
Lote Tuqiri supplies some raw power and valuable experience on the right wing, while Darragh Fanning completes the flanks.
Treviso’s danger men in the backline are a few. In Italy international Fabio Semenzato at nine, combined with out-half Matt Berquist – who was formerly on the Leinster books – the Italians have a very experienced duo who will take the ball on themselves plenty, and back themselves to see off the challenge posed by John Cooney and Gopperth opposite them.
In the centre, Christian Loamanu plays 12, with Andrea Pratichetti at 13. Expect Pratichetti to get plenty of ball and be the playmaker for Treviso, as he seeks to punch holes with loose forwards feeding of his runs.
Out wide, Treviso have experience of their own in the form of Ludovica Nitoglia and Brendan Williams. On the left wing, however, is 20-year-old Angelo Esposito. Leinster are likely to ship the ball to Tuqiri and test the young winger’s defensive abilities from the off.
Treviso’s pack is built around Cornelius van Zyl’s abrasive style and leadership qualities at five, while Manoa Vosawai offers the groundhog and carrying abilities in the back row.
But Leinster have that carrying ability in abundance with Rhys Ruddock (No 6) and Leo Auva’a (No 8) named to start.
Shane Jennings at openside is the best breakdown-ball winner on the pitch, and the ever improving Quinn Roux starts at No 5.
With Alberto de Marchi and Ignacio Fernandez named in the Treviso front row, Michael Bent and Martin Moore have their work cut out, but if Leinster can even gain parity in the scrum, the rest of their XV should be good enough for the win.
Verdict: Leinster by ten.