Key Clash Preview: Leinster v Cardiff Blues

RDS DublinDate: Saturday 11th September
Kick off: 18:30
Venue: Royal Dublin Society

Leinster: After losing 22-19 to Glasgow last weekend, Leinster will be desperate to get off to a winning start at home. A win in this game is vital for Leinster and although it’s early, a slip up could potentially have an effect at the end of the season: Cardiff ought to be one of Leinster’s rivals, and a defeat at home this weekend would give the Blues a handy 9-point lead. However, the Dubliners have beaten Cardiff in their last six encounters, and Cardiff have only won once in the Irish capital, back in March 2004.

Cardiff: After last season’s triumph in the Amlin Challenge Cup, Cardiff are expected to do well this season. New signing Dan Parks helped make it a perfect start for the Blues against Edinburgh last Saturday, scoring four conversions and two penalties, and another victory here would make Cardiff serious title contenders. Their record in Dublin isn’t too encouraging, but their Away form is pretty good: their last Away defeat was back in January against Edinburgh, and they haven’t lost a game in any competition since March.

What to expect: Two top teams playing each other sometimes means a low-scoring encounter, but Leinster and Cardiff are both attacking teams. The weather could have an impact, but we’re expecting Parks to shine again regardless.

All eyes on: It will be interesting to see how Parks plays after last week’s game to follow up on his debut performance, and whether he can continue his impressive form. Meanwhile Leinster will welcome the return of key players such as Brian O’Driscoll and Jonathan Sexton, and Sexton’s head-to-head with Parks could determine the outcome of the game, particularly in difficult conditions.

Last year’s result: 31st October 2009 – Leinster 23-6 Cardiff Blues

Weather forecast: Heavy rain showers are likely to deter a wide, expansive game.

Prediction: Dan Parks’ kicking should be a great asset for Cardiff giving them a slight edge: Cardiff by 6.

By Matt Kellett