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Leinster Rugby vs Glasgow Warriors
Rabodirect Pro 12 Round 16
RDS Showground, Dublin
Saturday, 01 March 2014, 20:30

Television: Live - TG4, BBC ALBA

Leinster take on Glasgow tomorrow in their final game before a two week break for the end of the Six Nations. Results-wise, the last three games have been perfect with a maximum return of 15 points. The performances have wavered in quality somewhat and last week against Cardiff, it was very up and down. After a storming start from Leinster, Cardiff came right back into the game by taking advantage of some woeful Leinster defending. Leinster made a better start to the second half but again let their standards slip once they had built a commanding lead.

Leinster have gotten away with these types of displays in the last three games, mainly due to the quality of the teams they've been playing. However Glasgow should present a sterner test and it's hard to see a team of their quality not punishing such poor defence.

Glasgow were one of the best teams in the league last season and certainly the most entertaining. They were expected to kick on this year to make a real challenge for the title and though they're still in contention, things haven't gone quite as smoothly as was anticipated. They made a great start to the season, winning their first five games on the trot but have been a bit his and miss since then. The weather hasn't helped them either and they have two games in hand due to postponed fixtures. Their form has been inconsistent too, mixing great results like winning away to the Ospreys with, somewhat remarkably, losing to the Dragons at both home and away.

They've named a strong team for tomorrow evening with Peter Murchie back fit and named at full back. Former Ulster player Tommy Seymour, who's now a Scotland international, is named on the right wing and Fijian match-winner Niko Matawalu is moved from scrum-half to start on the left wing. There's an interesting centre partnership in Finn Russell, who moves from fly-half and Richie Vernon, who's won twenty Scotland caps as a back row. There's an international half-back pairing with the mercurial Ruaridh Jackson and Chris Cusiter, who captains the team from scrum-half.

In the forwards, Gordon Reid, Pat MacArthur and Mike Cusack form the front row. Tim Swinson and Jonny Gray both return from the international squad to make up the second row and there's a very handy backrow of James Eddie, Rob Harley and the always impressive South African Josh Strauss at number eight.

Leinster also welcome back several players from international duty and make ten changes in all from the team that began against Cardiff. The backline is relatively un-touched with only two changes in Fergus McFadden and Ian Madigan coming in for Brendan Macken and Jimmy Gopperth, respectively.

The whole pack is changed though and as in the game against Dragons, the entire Irish reserve front row of Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Martin Moore come in to start. Leo Cullen is back to skipper the team from the second row alongside Mike McCarthy while Rhys Ruddock, Shane Jennings and Jordi Murphy make up a powerful backrow. Somewhat surprisingly Ireland starting tighthead Mike Ross is named on the bench alongside other experienced players like Richardt Strauss, Isaac Boss and Jimmy Gopperth.

It's a pretty strong Leinster side, similar to the one selected against the Dragons, although coach Matt O'Connor will be hoping for a better performance than they managed that night. Glasgow have plenty of firepower and Leinster will need to be on their game to get a win and will probably need their best home performance of the season to achieve that.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby

Glasgow Warriors
Teams Zane Kirchner 15 Peter Murchie
Darragh Fanning 14 Tommy Seymour
Fergus McFadden 13 Richie Vernon
Noel Reid 12 Finn Russell
Luke Fitzgerald
11 Niko Matawalu
Ian Madigan 10 Ruaridh Jackson
Eoin Reddan
9 Chris Cusiter (C)

Jack McGrath 1 Gordon Reid
Sean Cronin
2 Pat MacArthur
Martin Moore
3 Mike Cusack
Leo Cullen (C) 4 Tim Swinson
Mike McCarthy
5 Jonny Gray
Rhys Ruddock
6 James Eddie
Shane Jennings 7 Rob Harley
Jordi Murphy
8 Josh Strauss

Replacements Richardt Strauss
16 Fraser Brown
Michael Bent 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa
Mike Ross
18 Ed Kalman
Tom Denton 19 Leone Nakarawa
Dominic Ryan 20
Tyrone Holmes
Isaac Boss
21 Henry Pyrgos
Jimmy Gopperth 22 Mark Bennett
Darren Hudson 23 Lee Jones

Not Considered
due to Injury
Sean O'Brien
Jimmy Gopperth

Peter Horne,
Al Kellock,
Sean Maitland,
DTH van der Merwe
Officials Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU),
Assistant Referees: Stuart Gafikin, Richard Kerr (both IRFU),
TMO: Alan Rogan (IRFU),
Citing Commissioner: Peter Fergusson (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2014-02-28