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Glasgow Warriors vs Leinster Rugby
Scotstoun, Glasgow,
Friday, 23rd November 2012, 19:35

Television: Live RTE2/BBC Alba

In the backdrop of the continuing Autumn International campaign, Leinster resume their season after three weeks off. Though the media probably won't attach too much importance to their trip to Glasgow, Leinster coach Joe Schmidt certainly won't be taking the game lightly. Firstly, Leinster have only two matches to get ready for the games which could well define their season, the Heineken Cup double-header against Clermont.

Secondly, Leinster need to get some form back to start climbing the table again. Leinster are currently back in sixth place, thirteen points behind leaders Ulster who have eight wins from eight. A repeat of last season's first place finish looks all but gone, even at this early stage. However with a good run, second place and a home semi-final is still attainable. To do that, they will need to make up the seven-point gap on the Scarlets, the team currently in second.

With a win so sorely needed, Schmidt will be cursing the fixture list that has his team resuming with one of the most difficult league fixtures of the season. Glasgow away has become a horrible fixture for Leinster over the last five or six seasons. Their nail-bitingly close Heineken Cup win last January was the first time Leinster had won in Glasgow since May 2006. They also managed a 10-all draw there in the league in a very scrappy game, which had to be considered a good return relatively speaking.

Glasgow themselves will be focusing on their own push for a top four finish for the third time in four seasons. They're certainly very well placed at the moment lying just two points behind the Scarlets. They're also on a serious run of form. After losing their opening two league games of the season, they've since won six on the trot and a win tomorrow would constitute a club record. They lost both their opening Heineken Cup matches narrowly to Northampton and Ulster so it's fair to say their main focus will be on the Pro12.

Like Ireland, they're missing several international players but Glasgow always seem to manage their squad well and put out a decent team. They've been boosted by being allowed name several Scotland squad members in their team, which considerably strengthens their line-up. Peter Murchie, Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Tom Ryder and Ruaridh Jackson all start. Former Ulster player Seymour has scored four tries in the last two league games and it was this form that got him called into the international squad. He makes up a back three with full-back Murchie and the always dangerous Canadian international DTH Van Der Merwe.

For Leinster there's finally some good news on the injury front as they're able to welcome Sean O'Brien, Quinn Roux, Leo Cullen, Aaron Dundon and Isa Nacewa back from injury. Nacewa returns at full back which means Dave Kearney shifts to the right wing in place of Andrew Conway who drops to the bench. The rest of the backline is unchanged from the Ospreys match with Eoin O'Malley frustratingly still not cleared to resume at centre.

It's all change in the pack though with only Jamie Hagan and Shane Jennings retaining their starting spots from the last day. Jack McGrath comes in for Heinke van der Merwe (who's on international duty) at loosehead prop and Dundon comes back in at hooker in place of Tom Sexton. Cullen and Roux make up the second row and O'Brien starts at number eight with Jennings and Kevin McLaughlin, who was released from the Ireland international squad, beside him. Academy prop Jack O'Connell is named on the bench after a strong showing in the 'A' match against Munster last week. It's actually a stronger Leinster line-up than was expected but they'll still have their work cut out for them.

Leinster's away form in the league last season was the main reason they finished first as they went unbeaten with ten wins and one draw. This season it's been poor though with the fortunate last minute win against Treviso the only victory on the road. They got hidings away to Scarlets and Connacht and lost the last time out to the Ospreys. Though that match wasn't a hiding, it was extremely frustrating viewing. Leinster had a weakened Ospreys lineup on the ropes in the first half but couldn't finish off the several try chances they created.

Through a mix of stupidity and poor decision-making they let them away with it. When the Ospreys finally got their act together in the second half Leinster fell apart and were reduced to trying to play an off-loading game in torrential rain with predictably disastrous results. It was the worst sort of performance to take into a break with and you'd hope the squad have thought long and hard about that game in the mean time and will be determined to put things right.

Leinster will at least take heart from the fact that they don't have to visit the grim, depressing kip that was Firhill anymore. Now it's the delightfully named Scotstoun complex and Leinster will hope there's a bit more space to play there than the narrow soccer pitch of Firhill. It will be very tricky in Glasgow as always but Schmidt will remind the lads of their responsibility to the squad and demand a much-improved performance from the last day. Whether that will be enough though is hard to say.

Team Lineups

Glasgow Warriors

Leinster Rugby
Teams Peter Murchie 15 Isa Nacewa
Tommy Seymour 14 David Kearney
Alex Dunbar 13 Brendan Macken
Peter Horne 12 Andrew Goodman
DTH Van Der Merwe 11 Fionn Carr
Ruaridh Jackson 10 Ian Madigan
Sean Kennedy 9 Isaac Boss

Gordon Reid 1 Jack McGrath
Pat MacArthur 2 Aaron Dundon
Mike Cusack 3 Jamie Hagan
Tim Swinson 4 Leo Cullen (C)
Tom Ryder 5 Quinn Roux
Rob Harley 6 Kevin McLaughlin
Chris Fusaro (C)
7 Shane Jennings
Josh Strauss 8 Sean O'Brien

Replacements Finlay Gillies 16 Thomas Sexton
Ofa Fainga'anuku 17 Jack O'Connell
Moray Low 18 Martin Moore
James Eddie 19 Devin Toner
Ryan Wilson 20
Jordi Murphy
George Graham 21 John Cooney
Scott Wight 22 Noel Reid
Byron McGuigan 23 Andrew Conway

Not Considered
due to Injury

Luke Fitzgerald,
Mark Flanagan,
Dominic Ryan,
David Doyle,
Rob Kearney,
Darren Hudson,
Brian O'Driscoll,
Eoin O'Malley
Officials Referee: Neil Hennessey (WRU),
Assistant Referees: Andy Macpherson, Bob Nevins (both SRU),
TMO: Andy Ireland (SRU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2012-11-22