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Leinster Rugby vs Glasgow Warriors
European Rugby Champions Cup Pool C
RDS Arena, Dublin
Sunday, 14th January 2018, 13:00

TV: Live on Sky Sports

It's a rare and unusual treat for Leinster fans as they get to go to the RDS for the third week running.

However as we're back to Europe but not playing an English team, it's also back to the poxy kick-off times.

One o'clock on a Sunday is hardly a time that will generate a great atmosphere but Leinster just need to keep focused and ensure they get the win that could win them the pool this weekend. Montpelier are five points behind Leinster but they are playing Exeter on Saturday and provided they don't get five points in that match, Leinster will be in the position to top the pool with a game to spare if they get a bonus point win. With a bit of luck Exeter will beat Montpelier and effectively end their interest in the pool to make Leinster's trip over there next week a little easier. But regardless Leinster look well primed to do the business against a Glasgow team with little enough to play for.

After last year's breakthrough year when Glasgow qualified out of their pool for the first time ever, the Warriors have regressed badly and are winless after four pool games. They had a bad start when they lost away to Exeter, but what really killed them off was getting well beaten by Leinster at Scotstoun a week later. Since then they played back to back games against Montpelier in which the French side earned five points each time. Glasgow were reasonably competitive in both of the games but there was a looseness to their play and poor discipline that showed they didn't really give a shite.

By contrast Glasgow's Pro14 form has been excellent with twelve wins and only one defeat from thirteen games. They're one of only two teams who've beaten Leinster this season along with the Cheetahs. That 31-21 win was a bit of a mad affair with Glasgow scoring four tries in the first half running the ball from everywhere. In the second half, Leinster dominated possession but couldn't get the scores to take something from the match. It was a fairly diminished Leinster side ahead of the start of the Autumn internationals but Glasgow were still well chuffed with themselves at the final whistle. Leinster will do well to remember how dangerous Glasgow can be when they throw the ball around like that and also how sweet it is to give them a taste of their own medicine.

Glasgow coach Dave Rennie has made good on his promise to rest top players like Jonny Gray and Finn Russell but he's still named a decent looking team with Ali Price, Huw Jones and Niko Matawalu the stand-outs in the backs while youngsters Jamie Bhatti, Matt Fagerson and George Turner have been having fine seasons in the pack.

Last Saturday Leinster completed a trio of wins over each of their inter-provincial rivals when they beat a barely interested Ulster side. Leinster were dazzling at times and Jordan Larmour is now the name of the lips of everyone in Irish rugby, but Ulster were dismal from the off. That being said, Leinster kept their standards up but the win did come at a cost with Garry Ringrose and James Tracy suffering injuries that will keep them out for a good while. So Leinster's much vaunted squad depth is put to the test again but Leo Cullen has still named an exciting looking side.

The big call in the team is that Larmour retains his place at full back to make his first Champions Cup start with Rob Kearney having to make do with a spot on the bench. James Lowe also will make his first European start on the left wing and the in-form Fergus McFadden completes a hugely exciting back three. Isa Nacewa returns to captain the team at inside centre which means Robbie Henshaw moves out to the thirteen channel while Johnny Sexton and Luke McGrath return at half back. In the pack there are just two changes with Sean Cronin and Josh van der Flier coming in for James Tracy and Josh Murphy.

It's as exciting a Leinster team as I can remember being named and with a dry day forecast for Sunday afternoon, they should be able to let rip. Glasgow will chuck it about themselves and it should be a high scoring game but Leinster should be able to win comfortably enough and hopefully secure qualification for the quarter-finals in the process.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Glasgow Warriors
Teams Jordan Larmour 15 Ruaridh Jackson
Fergus McFadden 14 Lee Jones
Robbie Henshaw 13 Huw Jones
Isa Nacewa (C) 12 Nick Grigg
James Lowe 11 Niko Matawalu
Johnny Sexton
10 Peter Horne
Luke McGrath 9 Ali Price

Jack McGrath 1 Jamie Bhatti
Sean Cronin 2 George Turner
Tadhg Furlong 3 Siua Halanukonuka
Devin Toner 4 Rob Harley (C)
Scott Fardy 5 Greg Peterson
Jordi Murphy 6 Matt Fagerson
Josh van der Flier 7 Matt Smith
Jack Conan 8 Adam Ashe

Replacements Bryan Byrne 16 Grant Stewart
Cian Healy 17 Alex Allan
Andrew Porter 18 D'Arcy Rae
James Ryan 19 Kiran McDonald
Dan Leavy 20
Chris Fusaro
Nick McCarthy 21 George Horne
Ross Byrne 22 Brandon Thomson
Rob Kearney 23 Henry Pyrgos

Not Considered
due to Injury
Tom Daly,
Jamie Heaslip,
Joey Carbery,
Rhys Ruddock,
Adam Byrne,
Sean O'Brien,
Richardt Strauss,
Rory O'Loughlin,
Garry Ringrose,
James Tracy

Brian Alainu'uise (knee),
Fraser Brown (head),
Scott Cummings (hand),
Alex Dunbar (knee),
Zander Fagerson (foot),
Callum Gibbins (achilles),
Stuart Hogg (hip),
Rory Hughes (shoulder),
Sam Johnson (jaw),
Pat MacArthur (shoulder),
Lelia Masaga (knee),
Leonardo Sarto (shoulder),
Tommy Seymour (foot),
Tim Swinson (hand),
Ryan Wilson (ankle)
Officials Referee: Marius Mitrea (Ita),
Assistant Referees: Matteo Liperini (Ita), Simone Boaretto (Ita),
TMO: Stefano Penne (Ita)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2018-02-16