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Glasgow Warriors v Leinster Rugby
European Rugby Champions Cup Pool C
Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow,
Saturday, 21st October 2017, 13:00

TV: Live on Sky Sports

So it's another early Saturday kick-off for the third week running as Leinster travel to Glasgow to take on the Warriors.

In terms of results last week, it was almost perfect for Leinster. They gained a maximum five point haul from their match while in the other pool match there was no bonus points for either side as Exeter beat Glasgow at home. Only the losing bonus point Montpellier earned will rankle with them especially as they really should have closed the game out after they scored the fourth try which gave them their own bonus point. Admittedly a five-point haul was the last thing anyone expected especially when the team was named without Johnny Sexton and that was before they lost Scott Fardy before kick-off and skipper Isa Nacewa went off injured before half-time.

The young side soaked up the punishment in the first quarter and played a rope-a-dope strategy hitting back for crucial scores showing great finishing skills. While they played with pace and ambition, Montpellier were slow and incredibly sluggish, preferring just to bludgeon the ball up clumsily. Admittedly the performance wasn't perfect, there was another 34 missed tackles (the highest total of any club in the competition last weekend) and it appeared nearly half of them were failed tackles on the massive Nemani Nadalo. The many sore players at Monday training would have been throwing some shade Luke McGrath's way for continually sending box kicks the way of the mighty Fijian. It was clearly a tactic perhaps to make the kicks contestable or even to turn him, but the kicks were so badly executed it instead just served up handy possession for Nadalo to skittle Leinster defenders. Taken with McGrath's increasingly sloppy passing, even at close range, his form will be a concern for Leinster.

Leinster now take on a Glasgow side who lost their first match of the season last week after coming in to it with a 100% percent record. Glasgow were unfortunate to come away from the game with nothing. The loss of Fraser Brown to a serious looking injury early on was crucial and Exeter's massive pack eventually just ground them down. The Exeter defence largely shut down their running game too and they got their two tries through well judged kicks from Finn Russell. The three Exeter tries were almost identical though, just relentless pick and drives that eventually paid off.

Glasgow have a top class coach in Dave Rennie though and he would have been licking his lips looking at all the missed tackles in the Leinster performance. On the 4G surface he'll fancy his team can find some holes and they've been boosted by the return of star full back Stuart Hogg for his first game since getting injured on the Lions tour. Hogg's return is one of four changes to the starting team from last week. Sam Johnson and Leonardo Sarto come in to start in the three-quarter line, while George Turner replaces Brown at hooker in the only change to the pack.

For Leinster, Johnny Sexton is fit to return at out-half. Sexton is named as captain as the injured Isa Nacewa is replaced at inside centre by Noel Reid. Adam Byrne has had one defensive howler too many and he loses his place on the right wing to the more pedestrian but dependable Fergus McFadden. Byrne has so much going for him in terms of pace, power and aerial ability. But he and the coaching staff need to work hard on correcting his fundamental problems in defence that are threatening to derail a very promising career.

There are three changes in the pack as Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Scott Fardy all come in to start. James Ryan was excellent on his European debut last week when brought in as a late replacement for Fardy but this week he'll try to make an impact off the bench instead where he's joined by the fit again Dan Leavy.

A win for Leinster would put them in pole position in the pool whereas a defeat for Glasgow would effectively finish off their hopes of qualifying. Leinster haven't won in Glasgow since November 2012 and with the home side's need being greater tomorrow, it's likely that run will continue.

A losing bonus point wouldn't be the worst result in the world though.

Team Lineups

Glasgow Warriors

Leinster Rugby
Teams Stuart Hogg 15 Joey Carbery
Tommy Seymour 14 Fergus McFadden
Sam Johnson 13 Robbie Henshaw
Peter Horne 12 Noel Reid
Leonardo Sarto 11 Barry Daly
Finn Russell 10 Johnny Sexton (C)
Ali Price 9 Luke McGrath

Jamie Bhatti 1 Cian Healy
George Turner 2 Sean Cronin
Zander Fagerson 3 Tadhg Furlong
Tim Swinson 4 Devin Toner
Jonny Gray 5 Scott Fardy
Ryan Wilson (C) 6 Rhys Ruddock
Callum Gibbins 7 Josh van der Flier
Adam Ashe 8 Jack Conan

Replacements Pat MacArthur 16 James Tracy
Alex Allan 17 Jack McGrath
D'Arcy Rae 18 Michael Bent
Scott Cummings 19 James Ryan
Rob Harley 20
Dan Leavy
Henry Pyrgos 21 Jamison Gibson-Park
Nick Grigg 22 Ross Byrne
Lee Jones 23 Dave Kearney

Not Considered
Due to Injury
Brian Alainu'uese,
Bobby Beattie,
Fraser Brown,
Alex Dunbar,
Chris Fusaro,
Rory Hughes,
Oli Kebble,
Paddy Kelly,
Kiran MacDonald,
Ratu Tagive,
Richie Vernon,
Samuela Vunisa

Tom Daly,
Jamie Heaslip,
Garry Ringrose,
Rob Kearney,
Ian Nagle,
Sean O'Brien,
Isa Nacewa
Officials Referee: Jerome Garces

by Jim O'Connor, © 2017-11-02

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