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Glasgow Warriors vs Leinster Rugby,
Hughenden, Glasgow,
6th April 2007, 19:30.

It wasn't supposed to end like that.  It was set up to be another memorable day.  The sun was shining, the beer was flowing and the burgers were being wolfed down in fine style.  On the terrace, the singing and chanting in the build-up to the game was raucous.  The stunned look on the faces of the Wasps fans suggested they had never seen anything like it.  The singing continued through the first half when Leinster battled hard but were fortunate to be only 13-10 behind.  At half-time we were quite confident that a typical Cheika bollocking would sort out Leinster and they would triumph, especially with the Wasps talisman Lawrence Dallaglio in the sin-bin for the first ten minutes of the second half.  Victory would surely be ours......

Forty odd minutes later and we stood desolate on the terrace after witnessing one of the most depressing halves of rugby Leinster have ever played.  Wasps had won 35-13 and had completely destroyed Leinster in all areas.  Instead of panicking with 14 men, Wasps actually stepped up their physicality and scored two tries in that ten-minute spell to effectively kill the game.  Leinster had no answer to the famed Wasps rush defence.  Tactically they simply weren't at the races.  As usual the Leinster pack took the brunt of the criticism in the media but it was a collective failure that from the whole team and management.  I suspect there's been a lot of soul-searching in the nights since.

So the Heineken Cup is gone, but at least Leinster have the Magners League to aim for.  How they react to the crushing disappointment of last week will define their season.  Last season they went to Glasgow two weeks after going out to Munster.  They gave a flat, scratchy performance and were lucky to win 21-18.  Any repeat of this attitude could be very dangerous.  Despite the depression hanging over Scottish rugby, Glasgow have actually had a reasonable enough season.  They've won seven out of fifteen games in the Magners League and lost narrowly in the quarter-final of the challenge cup to Saracens last weekend.

They make only one change in their team for this week, with centre Scott Barrow replacing the injured Andrew Henderson.  He partners the powerful Graeme Morrison supported by a pacy back three of Hefin O'Hare, Rory Lamont and Thom "Shiny Boots" Evans, a particular favour of the Leinster crowd.  Dan Parks may not be everyone's cup of tea at out-half but he's generally a reliable kicker who's hurt Leinster in the past.  Up front they have Scottish internationals in Euan Murray, Alistair Kellock and John Beattie.  They're a decent enough side who's past performances against Leinster show they shouldn't be under-estimated.

For Leinster there are three changes from the side that started last week.  With Stephen Keogh and Bernard Jackman injured, Cameron Jowitt and Brian Blaney come in at blindside flanker and hooker respectively.  The other change is the omission of Kieran Lewis.  Gordon D'Arcy moves to outside centre to replace him with Christian Warner at twelve.

So in some ways, Leinster are in a lucky position.  They have five remaining game to focus on this season.  Five wins and they'll have some silverware to show for all their efforts.  They're in the final leg of the season, but if the attitude and focus is right then hopefully Glasgow will bear the brunt of the frustration from last week.


Glasgow Warriors   Leinster
Rory Lamont 15 Girvan Dempsey
Hefin O'Hare 14 Shane Horgan
Graeme Morrison 13 Gordon D'Arcy
Scott Barrow 12 Christian Warner
Thom Evans 11 Denis Hickie
Dan Parks 10 Felipe Contepomi (C)
Graeme Beveridge 9 Chris Whitaker
Justin Va'a 1 Stanley Wright
Fergus Thomson 2 Brian Blaney
Euan Murray 3 Will Green
Andy Newman 4 Trevor Hogan
Alastair Kellock (C) 5 Malcolm O'Kelly
Steve Swindall 6 Cameron Jowitt
John Barclay 7 Keith Gleeson
John Beattie 8 Jamie Heaslip
Scott Lawson 16 Reggie Corrigan
Kevin Tkachuk 17 Harry Vermaas
Dan Turner 18 Owen Finegan
Andrew Wilson 19 Kevin McLaughlin
Donnie Macfadyen 20 Guy Easterby
Colin Gregor 21 Luke Fitzgerald
Colin Shaw 22 Rob Kearney

by Jim O'Connor, © 2007-04-05