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Glasgow Warriors vs Leinster Rugby
Firhill, Glasgow
Friday, 12 October 2007, 19:30

Once again the Leinster - Llanelli fixture featured a glut of tries.  Unfortunately for Leinster, this time it was the Scarlets who got the lions' share of them.  The first half was competitive enough, indeed had Jonny Sexton's kicking been better, Leinster could even had taken a lead into half-time.  There were warning signs there though, especially at the breakdown.  However, the second half defensive collapse left the Leinster fans stunned.  Most Leinster fans were excited when the young, promising back-line was named but the flip-side to this was the lack of experienced heads to steady the ship once things started going wrong.

Once Gary Brown went off, Christian Warner was the only back on the pitch over 23 years old.  A defensive mix-up between Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald let in James Bater for an embarrassingly soft try.  The bigger, more experienced Scarlets back-line simply started running straight and hard and the Leinster defense totally collapsed.  The two silly yellow cards incurred by Rob Kearney and Shane Jennings certainly didn't help the situation either.  Discipline was a huge problem for Leinster last season, as they clocked up a remarkable 22 yellow cards.  With four yellows in the first three games, they're well on the way to beating this record unless there's a serious attitude change.

The sixteen-game winning streak at home was destroyed as Llanelli ran in six tries, most of them without a hand laid on them.  The response of the fans was understandably angry but it must be remembered that this was nearly all the same players who were hailed for the great result they got in Cardiff the week before.  Leinster fans want to see young Irish players brought through, but young players need time to learn.  Sometimes you learn a lot more from defeat than triumph, so hopefully the memory of last Friday's humiliation will drive the young guys on to never let something like that happen again.

So to Glasgow tomorrow evening and even though Brian O'Driscoll was originally named in the squad earlier in the week it's actually Shane Horgan who'll wear the number 13 jersey and captain the side.  Ross McCarron makes his first start of the season at full-back, with Rob Kearney switching to the left wing.  Luke Fitzgerald switches over to the right wing to replace the injured Gary Brown.  Fergus McFadden, who was impressive last week, drops to the bench to make way for the return of Horgan in the only other change to the backline.  The young half-back pairing of Cillian Willis and Jonny Sexton are given a vote of confidence after struggling at times last week.

The pack has an experimental look to it.  Stan Wright replaces Juan Francisco Gomez at loose head prop, with Cian Healy taking the spot on the bench.  After getting a brief taste of action last season against the Borders, Healy will be itching to get on.  There's a new second row pairing of Cameron Jowitt and Devin Toner in place of the injured Trevor Hogan and Leo Cullen.  Malcolm O'Kelly does provide a more experienced option from the bench though.  In the back-row Shane Jennings switches back across to open-side to allow for the return of Stephen Keogh and Kevin McLaughlin starts at number eight in place of Jamie Heaslip.

Leinster have learnt in the last few years that Glasgow can be a tough place to get a result.  Last season's 26-20 defeat on Good Friday was a major blow to Leinster's championship ambitions.  Glasgow actually had an excellent second half to last season and were particularly strong at home.  They've strengthened their squad with the recruitment of former Leicester centre Daryl Gibson and he forms a very physical midfield with Graeme Morrison.  Former boy-band member Thom "Shiny Boots" Evans is an old favourite of the Leinster crowd but he's a very dangerous runner who'll need watching.  Colin Gregor is a very unpredictable presence at out-half and both he and scrum-half Sam Pinder can embarrass teams with their pace.  Scottish international Alastair Kellock captains their team and he's partnered in the second row by old warhorse Andy Newman.  They have an impressive and mobile back-row in Steve Swindall, John Barclay and John Beattie.  Glasgow lost their first two games away from home, but bounced back to beat Connacht at home last week.

So once again it's a tough assignment, but after winning in Cardiff in their first away game, Leinster will hopefully take another valuable scalp on their travels.

Team Lineups
  Glasgow Warriors vs Leinster Rugby
Teams Bernardo Stortoni 15 Ross McCarron
Max Evans 14 Luke Fitzgerald
Graeme Morrison 13 Shane Horgan
Daryl Gibson 12 Christian Warner
Thom Evans 11 Rob Kearney
Colin Gregor 10 Jonathan Sexton
Sam Pinder 9 Cillian Willis
Ed Kalman 1 Stanley Wright
Eric Milligan 2 Bernard Jackman
Moray Low 3 Stephen Knoop
Andy Newman 4 Cameron Jowitt
Alastair Kellock (C) 5 Devin Toner
Stevie Swindall 6 Stephen Keogh
John Barclay 7 Shane Jennings
Johnnie Beattie 8 Kevin McLaughlin
Replacements Fergus Thomson 16 Brian Blaney
Michael Collins 17 Cian Healy
Dan Turner 18 Malcolm O'Kelly
James Eddie 19 Keith Gleeson
Chris O'Young 20 Chris Keane
Scott Barrow 21 Fergus McFadden
Hefin O'Hare 22 Fionn Carr
Not Considered
due to Injury
    Ronnie McCormack
Michael Berne
Chris Whitaker
Trevor Hogan
Leo Cullen
Gary Brown
Officials Referee: Hugh Watkins (WRU)
Sub Referee: Neil Paterson (SRU)
Touch Judge: Peter Carruthers (SRU)
TMO: Peter Allan (SRU)

by Jim O' Connor, © 2007-10-11