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Glasgow Warriors vs Leinster Rugby
RaboDirect Pro12 Round 3
Scotstoun, Glasgow,
Friday, 20th September 2013, 19:35

Television: Live - TG4, BBC Alba

It was going to plan and we would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for those pesky Ospreys!! - Matt O'Connor

Okay, Matt O'Connor may not have said that exactly, as he isn't a Scooby Doo villain, but it does pretty much capture the gist of his frustration last week. After an opening day bonus point win away to Scarlets, Leinster looked to be on their way to another comfortable win when Jimmy Gopperth sailed through the Ospreys defence to set Dave Kearney up for a try that can only be described as sumptuous. Though it only put Leinster 10-3 up, the very manner in which it was scored would have caused most Pro12 teams to drop their heads and bow to Leinster's superior skill set. If it was the Scarlets, Blues or Dragons they would have collapsed, but the Ospreys, damn them, are made of different stuff.

Even with a relatively understrength team they never panicked, they simply set about working themselves back into the game, mainly on the back of Dan Biggar's boot. Then they exploded in the second half scoring two quick-fire tries, the second of which Leinster would have been proud to call their own. From a sure-fire win, Leinster were now looking at a defeat, especially when referee Leighton Hodges sent replacement hooker Sean Cronin to the sin-bin for the despicable crime of pushing early in a scrum. If O'Connor will take anything from the game, it was the determination shown by the team in that ten-minute period to turn a seven-point deficit into a three-point lead. It was just a shame that indiscipline cost them at the death and it ended up in a draw, although in truth the Ospreys deserved that much.

So there was a sense of frustration after the good start that Leinster didn't go on to get the win but with seven points from two games, it's still been Leinster's best start to the season since 2007. Things don't get any easier for Leinster though as they face a trip to Scotstoun to face Glasgow tomorrow evening.

Glasgow are many pundits' choice for champions this season. They've got an innovative young coach, a defined and effective gameplan and lots of playing talent spread across different positions. They had a blow early in the summer when Niko Matawalu, their brilliant Fijian scrum-half, was ruled out of the opening weeks of the season with a foot injury. Matawalu's introduction last term revolutionised their play and though he's far from a great technical scrum-half, his strength and pace, plus his unpredictability, just seem to bring the best out of the players around him. That said, Glasgow haven't done too badly without him so far. On the opening day, they beat Cardiff in a hard-fought win. Last week, they went to Ulster and nicked a win with a last-minute James Eddie try. True, they rode their luck as Ulster butchered at least three gilt-edged try chances through chronically poor handling, but even still they showed great perseverance to hang in long enough to give them a chance to strike.

Leinster played Glasgow three times last season and won all three, but the margins were tight with the winning margin being six, five and two points in each respective game. In particular Glasgow put Leinster under massive pressure in the two games at the RDS and were seen as somewhat unlucky to have lost both games. So they'll be itching to get revenge for those defeats and they've named a team featuring six changes (including one positional) from the side that beat Ulster. Alex Dunbar comes in at inside centre which means Mark Bennett switches to the outside channel and Sean Lamont moves from the centre to right wing. Chris Cusiter comes in for Henry Pyrgos at scrum-half and takes over the captaincy. In the pack the only change to the front five is the selection of Jon Welsh at tighthead instead of Ed Kalman. The final two changes come in the backrow where Chris Fusaro and Richie Vernon replace Tyrone Holmes and Josh Strauss respectively.

Two of Glasgow's Lions, full-back Stuart Hogg and loose-head Ryan Grant both start the match. Two of Leinster's Lions feature for the first time this season too in Rob Kearney and Cian Healy, coincidentally also a full-back and a loose-head. Leinster fans will have to wait for their first sight of them however as both are named on the bench for tomorrow. In all Matt O'Connor has made three personnel changes for tomorrow but there are a number of positional switches as well. In the pack the only change is Tom Denton replacing Devin Toner in the second row. In the backs Isaac Boss is given his first run of the season in place of Eoin Reddan. It's a bit of a case of musical chairs in the back three though with Darragh Fanning moving from the right wing to replace the injured Darren Hudson. Dave Kearney moves from full back to the right wing and Ian Madigan comes in to make his first start of the season at full back. Given how well Jimmy Gopperth has been playing in the number 10 jersey, Madigan would have been looking for a start there, but injuries have dictated things somewhat. He'll be hoping to be moved to out-half when Rob Kearney makes his inevitable appearance off the bench.

Last season's game in Scotstoun was a miserable 6-0 win to Leinster, which was basically destroyed by the weather. The forecast for tomorrow is for dry weather so it should be a better match at least. In a game that's pretty tight to call, Glasgow will be narrow favourites but Leinster have found a way to win there before and will hope to do so again.

Team Lineups

Glasgow Warriors

Leinster Rugby
Teams Stuart Hogg 15 Ian Madigan
Sean Lamont 14 Dave Kearney
Mark Bennett 13 Brendan Macken
Alex Dunbar 12 Gordon D'Arcy
DTH van der Merwe 11 Darragh Fanning
Ruaridh Jackson 10 Jimmy Gopperth
Chris Cusiter (C)
9 Isaac Boss

Ryan Grant 1 Jack McGrath
Pat MacArthur 2 Richardt Strauss
Jon Welsh 3 Mike Ross
Jonny Gray 4 Mike McCarthy
Tim Swinson 5 Tom Denton
Rob Harley 6 Kivin McLaughlin
Chris Fusaro 7 Shane Jennings (C)
Richie Vernon 8 Jordi Murphy

Replacements Dougie Hall 16 Aaron Dundon
Jerry Yanuyanutawa 17 Cian Healy
Ed Kalman 18 Martin Moore
James Eddie 19 Devin Toner
Josh Strauss 20
Dominic Ryan
Henry Pyrgos 21 Eoin Reddan
Scott Wight 22 Noel Reid
Byron McGuigan 23 Rob Kearney

Not Considered
due to Injury
Mike Cusack,
Peter Horne,
Al Kellock,
Niko Matawalu,
Tom Ryder,
Ryan Wilson

Michael Bent,
Quinn Roux,
Andrew Goodman,
Leo Cullen,
Luke Fitzgerald,
Darren Hudson,
Fergus McFadden
Officials Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (IRFU),
Assistant Referees: Neil Paterson, Adrian Graves (both SRU),
TMO: Iain Ramage (SRU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2013-09-19