The Pro14 is hotting up, and this week sees a battle between two Irish sides who are looking to continue strong starts to the season.
The home team comes into the match on the back of an unconvincing win last week against Edinburgh thanks to a try by Jamison Gibson-Park. It was an unsatisfying performance and not one head coach Leo Cullen would have wanted on his sides return to the RDS after their two-week stint in South Africa.
Although it’s not Leinster’s official home ground the Aviva is separated from the RDS by a 20-minute walk which will hardly be a deterrent for Leinster fans. Leinster have won two of the last three encounters in the Aviva with Munster’s last win away to Leinster coming back in 2014. The Aviva will be no easy place for Munster to pull of a win against their Irish counterparts.
The return of Robbie Henshaw is something that will put a smile on many Leinster fan’s faces. Henshaw is set to make his first start of the season after tearing his pectoral muscle off the bone while playing against the Hurricanes on the Lions’ tour. Henshaw had been in good form prior to the injury and his power, speed and skill will be a huge boost to the Leinster midfield on Saturday afternoon
Rassie Erasmus’ men travel to Dublin having beaten the Cardiff Blues last week running in five tries and dominating the entire game. That win set Munster’s season back on track having lost badly to Glasgow Warriors the week before.
JJ Hanrahan’s return to Munster from Northampton Saints has already been beneficial to the men in red. Despite coming off of the bench last week against Cardiff, Hanrahan grabbed himself two tries in Munster’s runaway win. The timing of his return has been good as South African centre Jaco Taute has been ruled out for six months as he has to undergo knee ligament surgery. Ironically, he suffered the injury in the same game that Hanrahan returned. The Limerick outfit will hope that Hanrahan will make up for losing Taute through injury going forward.
Both teams have been good in the early part of the season, with each of them sitting in second in their respective conferences with four wins and one loss each. Their offensive and defensive records are just as close with only four points separating them in the points differential column. I think Leinster will take the win in this encounter. Leinster’s record at the Aviva is one to be reckoned with and given the two teams are so evenly matched, I think home advantage will be the deciding factor.
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