Belfast Telegraph

Leinster aim to put woes aside to topple Harlequins

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

It has been an interesting week at Planet Leinster where the backs are up and they're not feeling the love.

Matt O'Connor has borne the brunt of criticism for a stuttering start to the season and the Australian has stoutly defended his record, pointing to the Pro12 champions' try-scoring exploits and the fact that even if victories are ugly, they're still winning.

One imagines the travelling band of blues won't mind what way the result is achieved against Conor O'Shea's Harlequins at Twickenham tomorrow, as long as Leinster leave with the spoils.

The coach has lamented the number of changes he has needed to make to his team on a weekly basis and yesterday it was no different as he reconstructed the team that beat the Ospreys last weekend.

In come a slew of Ireland stars of autumn, but the loss of Fergus McFadden, Dave Kearney and Dominic Ryan is a blow.

Ian Madigan has shaken off his ankle trouble, but must make do with his lot in the centre as the mis-firing Jimmy Gopperth continues at out-half.

Jamie Heaslip and Rhys Ruddock add ballast to the back-row, while the all-international front-row has a mean look about it.

O'Connor said: "Away from home in Europe, you've got to make sure your discipline, set-piece are good, you've got to make sure you look after the ball.

"If you deliver those things, away from home, you manage the scoreboard, you manage field position, you give yourself every chance."

The teams' last and only European clash spurred 6-5 winners Leinster on to glory, while Quins were left in tatters after the infamous 'Bloodgate' affair.

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