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Leinster Rugby vs Glasgow Warriors
Royal Dublin Showgrounds
Friday, 12 March 2008, 19:30

Television: Live � Setanta Ireland
Season Ticket: Magners League 7

Once again Leinster fans return to the Magners League looking for some cheer after another disappointing international campaign from Ireland. The Magners is the only show in town from here on in and Leinster have six games in which to secure the title for the first time since the inaugural season. First up is Glasgow in the RDS tomorrow evening.

Glasgow are stuck firmly in mid-table after a mixed season. They put in some very impressive performances in the Heineken Cup managing to beat Biarritz at home and coming within a whisker of beating them away. Ultimately Saracens' power game was too much for them but they were far from disgraced. Their form in the Magners League has been more mixed though. As with last year they've been strong at home in Firhill, recording good wins over Cardiff, The Ospreys and of course Leinster. They have yet to win on their travels so far this season though and one suspects their season could peter out somewhat. They have no real chance of winning the league but equally there's no real fear factor there either as both Scottish regions are pretty much guaranteed Heineken Cup qualification regardless of where they finish in the league.

This could go either way then, they could let their season fall away or they could respond positively to the lack of pressure and play like they've nothing to lose. Either way, Leinster have to treat them with the utmost respect, especially as Leinster have lost their last two games to them. Last season's 26-20 away defeat (on Good Friday as well coincidentally enough) was the moment when Leinster's league campaign started to fall apart and it will be a painful memory for the squad. Coach Michael Cheika is pragmatic in his outlook for the rest of the season. "We have to learn from where we've gone wrong in the last two seasons and even though it's a cliché, we need to take one game at a time.

Glasgow have named a reasonably strong side with pretty much a full-strength back-line. Samoan World Cup winger Lome Fa'atau is one to watch as is Thom "Shiny Boots" Evans on the other wing. Former All-Black Daryl Gibson captains the side and forms a very physical centre pairing with Graeme Morrison. With Dan Parks rested the versatile Colin Gregor starts at ten and he's partnered by Sam Pinder. Their pack has been hit by the absence of internationals like Alistair Kellock, Fergus Thomson and John Barclay and has an unfamiliar feel to it. But at least they can count of the experience of Donnie MacFayden, John Beattie and Andy Newman.

Unlike Glasgow, Leinster welcome back their internationals whose enthusiasm to play after a tough campaign is to be commended. Rob Kearney's return sees Luke Fitzgerald shift to the left wing in place of Gary Brown and Shane Horgan replaces Felix Jones on the right wing. Jonny Sexton is fit again but has to make do with a place on the bench as Cheika keeps faith with the midfield of Felipe Contepomi, Michael Berne and Christian Warner that started the last two games. In the pack captain Leo Cullen returns from injury to replace Trevor Hogan and Bernard Jackman returns at hooker in place of Brian Blaney. Jamie Heaslip replaces Stephen Keogh in the only other change to the pack.

Despite the injuries to some of the star players, it remains a very solid looking Leinster team. Providing they hit their stride early and are not complacent, they should have too much for this Glasgow team.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Glasgow Warriors
Teams Rob Kearney 15 Bernardo Stortoni
Shane Horgan 14 Lome Fa'atau
Christian Warner 13 Graeme Morrison
Michael Berne 12 Daryl Gibson (C)
Luke Fitzgerald 11 Thom Evans
Felipe Contepomi 10 Colin Gregor
Chris Whitaker 9 Sam Pinder

Ollie Le Roux 1 Ed Kalman
Bernard Jackman 2 Dougie Hall
Stan Wright 3 Moray Low
Leo Cullen (C) 4 Andy Newman
Malcolm O'Kelly 5 Dan Turner
Shane Jennings 6 James Eddie
Keith Gleeson 7 Donnie MacFayden
Jamie Heaslip 8 Johnnie Beattie

Replacements Brian Blaney 16 Eric Milligan
Cian Healy / Stephen Knoop 17 Justin Va'a
Trevor Hogan 18 Opeta Palepoi
Stephen Keogh / Cameron Jowitt 19 Richie Vernon
Chris Keane 20 Ruaridh Jackson
Jonathan Sexton 21 Scott Barrow
Gary Brown 22 Hefin O'Hare
Not considered
due to injury
Girvan Dempsey
Brian O'Driscoll
Gordon D'Arcy
Fergus McFadden
Officials Referee: Hugh Watkins (WRU)
Sub Referee: Colin Stanley (IRFU)
Touch Judge: David Wilkinson (IRFU)
4th Official: Peter Dennehy (ARLB)
5th Official: Ciaran McGowan (ARLB)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2008-03-20