Holders Leinster face tough task against rampant Exiles

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The Independent Online

It is five months now since the Rocky Hooray Show at Murrayfield. Leinster have lost the back-row services of Rocky Elsom, the chief inspiration of their 19-16 victory against Leicester in last season's Heineken Cup final but the Irish province have the showpiece trophy in the European game to defend when they open their account on home ground this evening.

They have a tough test too. London Irish are the visitors to the Royal Dublin Showground for the Pool Six encounter. "We want to measure ourselves against the best teams in Europe and they don't come much bigger than this," Toby Booth, head coach of the Exiles, said yesterday.

Booth brings Clarke Dermody, David Paice and Faan Rautenbach into the starting line-up, while Declan Danaher replaces Richard Thorpe on the blindside flank and Tom Homer comes in for the injured Adam Thompstone on the right wing.

Bath have Ryan Davis at fly-half in place of Nicky Little for their Pool Four match away to Ulster tonight, while No 8 Gareth Delve returns following suspension to captain Gloucester at home to the Newport-Gwent Dragons.