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Leinster Rugby vs Glasgow Warriors,
Donnybrook, Dublin,
10th November 2006, 19:30

Leinster play Glasgow this Friday at Donnybrook, their last game before a three week break. It's a good time to review the progress of Leinster in the Magners League this season. So far Leinster have played seven, won four and lost three. They have a hundred percent record at home but have lost three out of four away from home. The defeats to Llanelli and Edinburgh were predictable enough but the defeat to Borders, the bottom team in the league, will still rankle with coach Michael Chieka. In short the report card will show a C+; doing alright but could do a whole lot better. So to keep in touch with leaders Ulster and Llanelli it's vital that Leinster win this Friday.

Many Leinster fans will think a win is a fait accompli, with the bonus point as well. Sure, don't we always hammer Glasgow at home and get the bonus point as well? Well...no, actually. The last three home games in the Magners League against Glasgow have all been very close, tense affairs. Leinster generally win, but it's never easy. In 2003-04 Leinster won 31-30, in 2004-05 it was 22-16 and last season it was 26-21. So three games where they won by only one score and no bonus points! Glasgow are rarely that impressive on the team sheet but they always give Leinster a game and should be respected.

Glasgow are actually in the position to name a pretty strong team as a lot of their internationals weren't required by Scotland for their international against Romania. Rory Lamont moves from the wing to full-back to allow Thom Evans come in on the wing. The marvellously named Hefin O'Hare completes a pacy back three. The Warriors have a big powerful centre partnership in Andy Henderson and Graeme Morrison. The half-backs are the experienced pairing of Graeme Beveridge and Dan Parks. Parks had a nightmare with the boot in the Heineken Cup match in Hughendon last season but he's generally very accurate with the boot and Leinster will have to be careful where they concede penalties.

In the pack Canadian prop Kevin Tkachuk is a powerful scrummager and Andy Newman and Alastair Kellock form a decent second row partnership. Jon Petrie is the pick of the backrow. So not a bad team at all, and they've also got Sam Pinder and Colin Gregor to spring from the bench. They're the two half-backs who ripped Munster apart last season.

Leinster are missing their internationals but are boosted from having 10 players picked for the A squad availible. Arguably they will miss Felipe Contepomi more than anyone though. The Argentinian was in sensational form last week and was at the heart of everything Leinster did well. Jamie Heaslip, who skippers the side for the first time, will replace him as captain. It's a huge honour for the young man and hopefully he will respond with a big performance. With Owen Finnegan suspended, Devin Toner keeps his place in the pack with Trevor Hogan returning from injury to partner him. It's the only change in the pack that will be looking for a more controlled performance than last week.

In the backs Chris Whitaker has been named at scrum-half, although Leinster fans will only believe he's playing when they see him running out on the pitch! Michael Berne takes Contepomi's place at inside centre and Rob Kearney replaces the unlucky Gary Brown on the right wing. This allows Luke Fitzgerald to continue at full-back where he'll be hoping to get more ball in space than last week.

To win this game, Leinster will need to improve dramatically on the performance of last week. In the past, the crowds have suffered at games when played before an international match. Hopefully the Leinster faithful will make a huge effort to come out to cheer the lads on to a win that will be crucial.


Jim O'Connor, © 2006
Leinster Rugby Glasgow Warriors
15: Luke Fitzgerald
14: Rob Kearney
13: Kieran Lewis
12: Michael Berne
11: Denis Hickie
10: Christian Warner
9: Chris Whitaker

1: Ronan McCormack
2: Brian Blaney
3: Fosi Pala'amo
4: Trevor Hogan
5: Devin Toner
6: Stephen Keogh
7: Keith Gleeson
8: Jamie Heaslip CAPTAIN

16: Reggie Corrigan
17: Harry Vermaas
18: Adam Byrnes
19: Niall Ronan
20: Cillian Willis
21: Andrew Dunne
22: Gary Brown
15: Rory Lamont
14: Hefin O'Hare
13: Graeme Morrison
12: Andrew Henderson
11: Thom Evans
10: Dan Parks
9: Graeme Beveridge

1: Kevin Tkachuk
2: Fergus Thomson
3: Moray Low
4: Andy Newman
5: Alastair Kellock CAPTAIN
6: Andrew Wilson
7: John Barclay
8: Jon Petrie

16: Eric Milligan
17: Ben Prescott
18: Dan Turner
19: Steve Swindall
20: Sam Pinder
21: Colin Gregor
22: Scott Barrow

by Paul Kelly, © 2006-11-10