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Connacht go to RDS believing they can break Leinster streak

Journal.ie logo Journal.ie 04/01/2020 Declan Rooney
a man standing in front of a crowd: Masterson celebrating last month. © James Crombie INPHO Masterson celebrating last month.

CONNACHT FLANKER EOGHAN Masterson believes a first win at the RDS is a possibility for Connacht as they prepare to face the unbeaten Leinster this afternoon (kick-off 17.30, eir Sport).

Laois native Masterson could even play alongside his brother for the first time in a competitive Connacht game with his younger sibling Seán named among the replacements.

A second set of brothers will start for Connacht with Conor Fitzgerald continuing at out-half and older sibling Stephen coming in at full-back.

But Masterson knows huge improvements are required from last weekend’s loss in Ulster if they harbour any hopes of victory.

Dublin , Ireland - 20 December 2019; Scott Penny of Leinster during the Guinness PRO14 Round 8 match between Leinster and Ulster at the RDS Arena in Dublin. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images) © Catalyst Images Dublin , Ireland - 20 December 2019; Scott Penny of Leinster during the Guinness PRO14 Round 8 match between Leinster and Ulster at the RDS Arena in Dublin. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Masterson has logged the most minutes on the field of any Connacht forward this season – 802 – and he believes his side can claim their first away win since the start of November despite the hectic schedule they are managing.

“Yes we can beat them, absolutely. They beat us well here earlier in the season but before that they had all been good battles. We’ve had our fair share of wins,” said 26-year-old Masterson.

“This block of 13 games has been incredibly intense. Made up of six Champions Cup games, four inter-pros and then big PRO14 games against conference rivals. It’s the most intense block of competitive rugby I’ve ever been involved in.

“But I feel when we play well we’re able to bet any team. The goal for us is to produce a performance and the result will take care of itself.”

Dublin , Ireland - 20 December 2019; Robbie Henshaw of Leinster during the Guinness PRO14 Round 8 match between Leinster and Ulster at the RDS Arena in Dublin. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images) © Catalyst Images Dublin , Ireland - 20 December 2019; Robbie Henshaw of Leinster during the Guinness PRO14 Round 8 match between Leinster and Ulster at the RDS Arena in Dublin. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Joining Masterson in the pack for his first Connacht start is Roscommon native Niall Murray, while Gavin Thornbury starts for the first time in two months alongside him in the second row. Centre Tom Daly is one of six Leinster natives in the starting side.

Paddy McAllister has completed his return to play protocols and is named on the bench, while Australian out-half David Horwitz could be in line for just his second appearance of the season.

With recent inter-pro results going against Connacht the prospect of tackling Leo Cullen’s side could be daunting, but according to Masterson they have no fear of the challenge.

“We went to Toulouse away and we were one point behind after 65 minutes.

“We were unbelievably competitive. Generally when results go against us it’s not because of opposition teams playing well, it is us shooting ourselves in the foot.

“We haven’t really talked about Leinster too much, we want to control what we can control and produce a performance we can be really really proud of.

“The game in Ulster was probably one of our more inaccurate performances of the season. A bad result, bad outcome at the end of it.

“We have shown that we have beaten Leinster before. When we get our stuff right we will be competitive and be in it at the death. Hopefully if we can produce that performance the result will be good to us.”

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