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Glasgow Warriors vs Leinster Rugby
Firhill, Glasgow
Friday, 24th October 2008, 19:30

Television: Setanta Ireland/ Setanta 2 - Live

Last Saturday was probably the proudest day to be a Leinster fan since the Toulouse quarter-final over two years ago. A thirty-point, six tries to one win over the star-laden English champions. I think it's fair to say most Leinster fans would have taken that at the start of the match. It was a truly fantastic day in which the home crowd really played their part. Leinster now stand in pole position at the top of their pool with maximum points.

However if Leinster follow up that magnificent performance with a defeat away to Glasgow, it will leave a nasty taste in the mouth going into the break for the autumn internationals. Not that Glasgow away is an easy touch, far from it. But if Leinster can reproduce the level of performance from last week, then you'd have to fancy them. It's a test of this team's professionalism that they can motivate themselves to the same level as last week in the less glamorous surroundings of a wet Firhill on a Friday night.

In the wave of euphoria after last Saturday, it's worth remembering that Leinster's season was in danger of unravelling a mere fortnight ago after back to back defeats to Munster and Connacht. At that stage Michael Cheika admitted winning the next three matches was crucial for his team's season. They have managed the first two parts, and a third win will send everyone into the break in good form.

To that end Cheika has named a very strong side with very little rotation. Leinster only make four changes to the line-up that started last day, two of which are injury enforced. This may increase to five though if Girvan Dempsey, who's ill, is forced to cry off. If Dempsey pulls out then Gary Brown will come in on the wing and Rob Kearney will switch to full back. With Brian O'Driscoll out injured, Felipe Contepomi switches to centre to allow Jonny Sexton to resume at ten after his impressive second half performance last week. In the pack the only changes are in the front five as Devin Toner replaces the injured Leo Cullen and John Fogarty and Cian Healy rotate in for Bernard Jackman and CJ van der Linde. Toner was particularly good last week after coming on for Cullen and he's really made the step up this season. The back-row that out-played the much vaunted Wasps backrow is retained en masse.

Glasgow only make one change from the team that ran Toulouse so close with Kelly Brown replacing Richie Vernon in the back row. Brown makes up an all-international backrow with John Beattie and the exciting open-side John Barclay. Alastair Kellock captains the team from the second row where he partners Dan Turner. Canadian international Kevin Tkachuk and Ed Kalman are the props with mobile Scottish hooker Dougie Hall completing the pack.

Ex-Wasp Mark McMillan starts at scrum-half and he partners Dan Parks. Parks can have his bad days but when he's on his game he can be a match-winner with the boot. In the backline the Evans brothers, Max and Thom, supply plenty of pace, while Graeme Morrison supplies plenty of power. Argentina international full back Bernardo Stortoni and Samoan wing Lome Fa'atau complete a dangerous looking backline.

Glasgow have become a fine team under the tenure of Sean Lineen and represent a major threat on their day. Their results this season in Europe however have disappointed with the defeat away to the Dragons and last week's narrow home loss to Toulouse. A bounce of the ball and they could have recorded a famous victory. This means they will now be fully focused on the Magners League and as they're only a point behind Leinster they're still well in the mix.

It will be a tough and niggly match but if Leinster are serious about ascending to the level of serious European competitors, then it's a match they should be able to win.

Team Lineups
  Glasgow Warriors
  Leinster Rugby
Teams Bernardo Stortoni 15 Girvan Dempsey / Gary Brown
Lome Fa'atau 14 Shane Horgan
Max Evans
13 Luke Fitzgerald
Graeme Morrison 12 Felipe Contepomi
Thom Evans
11 Robert Kearney
Dan Parks
10 Jonathan Sexton
Mark McMillan 9 Chris Whitaker (C)
Kevin Tkachuk 1 Cian Healy
Dougie Hall 2 John Fogarty
Ed Kalman 3 Stan Wright
Dan Turner 4 Devin Toner
Alastair Kellock (C)
5 Malcolm O'Kelly
Kelly Brown 6 Rocky Elsom
John Barclay
7 Shane Jennings
Johnnie Beattie 8 Jamie Heaslip
Replacements Pat McArthur
Moray Low
Tim Barker
Stevie Swindall
Richie Vernon
Colin Gregor
Ruaridh Jackson
Andrew Henderson
Hefin O'Hare
from Brian Blaney
CJ van der Linde
Trevor Hogan
Stephen Keogh
Sean O'Brien
Chris Keane
Gary Brown
Simon Keogh
Not Considered
due to Injury

  Gordon D'Arcy (arm)
Isa Nacewa (arm)
Leo Cullen (Collar Bone)
Brian O'Driscoll (Knee)
Officials Rereree: Gwyn Morris (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Rob Dickson (SRU), David Anderson (SRU)
TMO: Ian Ramage (SRU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2008-10-23