Leinster aiming to end Ospreys' winning streak

RETURN...Johnny Sexton will make his first Leinster appearance since Mayo's PRO12 final loss to Connacht (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
By Padraig Kelly

Guinness PRO 12: Leinster v Ospreys (tonight, RDS Arena, 7.35pm, live on TG4)

AFTER consecutive trips to Scotland, Leinster will be back on home soil tonight as they attempt to end the brilliant form of history-making Ospreys.

The Welsh side sit top of the Guinness PRO12 table after becoming the first team in the competition's history to record bonus-point victories in their opening three fixtures.

Leinster, meanwhile, had mixed fortunes across the Irish Sea, falling to Glasgow two weeks ago before responding with a 33-20 victory over Edinburgh last Friday night.

They will have Johnny Sexton back in their ranks tonight as they attempt to end Ospreys' winning run.

The 31-year-old hasn't played since injuring his shoulder in May's PRO12 final defeat to Connacht but head coach Leo Cullen has included him in his starting side.

Cullen has made a raft of other changes but there is no starting spot for Dan Leavy despite the flanker going over for two tries against Edinburgh.

Luke McGrath has come into the half-backs alongside Sexton while Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong have been brought into the front row. Cullen has also drafted Mick Kearney into the second row while Josh van der Flier starts at open-side flanker.

Ospreys' head coach Steve Tandy was naturally keen to play down the significance of their start this week and said that they would get a much clearer picture of where they stand after their games with Leinster, Ulster and Cardiff Blues in the coming weeks.

Hype has been understandable though considering that they have racked up 155 points in their wins over Zebre, Connacht and Treviso.

They have managed 21 tries in those games whilst only conceding three at the other end.

Sam Parry already has four tries to his name while Ben John has crossed the line three times. What will be most pleasing for Tandy though is the fact that 12 different players have already managed to get on the scoresheet.

A trip to the RDS is undoubtedly their hardest assignment of the season and a big step up from a relatively easy set of fixtures to date with even reigning champions Connacht struggling in the early stages of their title defence.

With Sexton back on board, Leinster should have an extra spring in their step. This is the first of three home matches in four games, and they should start that run with a win.

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