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Leinster Rugby vs Glasgow Warriors
Guinness Pro12 Round 18
RDS Showground, Dublin
Friday, 27th March 2015, 19:35

Television: TG4

So it was another great Six Nations Championship for Ireland, but sadly the same can't be said for Leinster. Their defeat away to the Scarlets meant it was the worst return in terms of points during the Championship period for many years. It has left Leinster two points outside the top four with only five games left.

Leinster take on the leaders Glasgow tomorrow night in what truly has become a "must-win" game. The term "must-win game" is perhaps overused, but this is genuinely the case tomorrow evening. The other three teams in the top four Ulster, Ospreys and Munster all look good bets to win this weekend, so if Leinster lose they will most likely be five or six points outside the top four with only four games left, three of which are away from home.

So basically if they lose tomorrow, they're pretty much screwed!

In the circumstances, Leinster probably couldn't be facing a worse opponent in Glasgow because no other team has more motivation to see them fail to reach the play-offs. This is because Glasgow have lost to Leinster in the play-offs in the last three seasons, twice in semi-finals and then in last year's Grand Final. The chance to knock Leinster out at this stage will be a huge motivating factor for the Glaswegians.

Glasgow are four points clear at the top of the table but along with Leinster, they've been the biggest providers for their international squad in the Six Nations. Glasgow provided 11 members of the Scotland match-day squad for last week's game, while Leinster provided 13. So there could well be something of a fatigue factor as many of their top players have effectively been playing non-stop all season.

For all that though, Glasgow seem to be targeting this match in a big way judging by the team they've named. Whereas Leinster have only named two of the players who started for Ireland in the match day squad, Glasgow have pressed four of their best backs straight back into action in Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett and Finn Russell. Peter Horne, DTH van der Merwe and Niko Matawalu complete an extremely dangerous looking backline.

In the pack, Fraser Brown, Tim Swinson and Rob Harley, who were on the bench for Scotland, all come in to start. Alex Allan and Zander Fagerson are the props, while the experienced Al Kellock skippers the team from the second row. The hugely influential pair of Chris Fusaro and Josh Strauss complete an excellent back row along with Harley and Jonny Gray and Adam Ashe can be called on from the bench.

Most of Leinster's starting players from last week are given a rest ahead of next week's quarter-final against Bath. They are able to call on Ireland squad members Ian Madigan, Eoin Reddan, Marty Moore and Jordi Murphy to start with Sean Cronin, Cian Healy and Luke Fitzgerald on the bench. Madigan comes in to start in the centre while Dave Kearney moves up from the bench to start on the left wing.

In pack Michael Bent and Richardt Strauss come in to start in the front row alongside Moore and Tom Denton gets a start in the second row in place of the injured Kane Douglas. Jordi Murphy and skipper Shane Jennings start in the back row alongside Jack Conan.

On paper, Glasgow's team looks a lot stronger but if Leinster can keep their attack under wraps, their weariness may be a factor.

Either way, it looks a tough task but Leinster's defence of their title is at stake and hopefully this will push them on to a win.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Glasgow Warriors
Teams Zane Kirchner 15 Stuart Hogg
Fergus McFadden 14 Tommy Seymour
Ben Te'o 13 Mark Bennett
Ian Madigan
12 Peter Horne
Dave Kearney 11 DTH van der Merwe
Jimmy Gopperth 10 Finn Russell
Eoin Reddan 9 Niko Matawalu

Michael Bent 1 Alex Allan
Richardt Strauss 2 Fraser Brown
Marty Moore 3 Zander Fagerson
Tom Denton 4 Tim Swinson
Mike McCarthy 5 Al Kellock (C)
Jordi Murphy6 Rob Harley
Shane Jennings (C)
7 Chris Fusaro
Jack Conan 8 Josh Strauss

Replacements Sean Cronin 16 Pat MacArthur
Cian Healy 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa
Tadhg Furlong 18 Mike Cusack
Ben Marshall 19 Jonny Gray
Dominic Ryan 20
Adam Ashe
Isaac Boss21 Henry Pyrgos
Gordon D'Arcy 22 Connor Braid
Luke Fitzgerald 23 Richie Vernon

Not Considered
due to Injury
Edward Byrne,
Kevin McLaughlin,
Kane Douglas

Rossouw de Klerk,
Alex Dunbar,
Ryan Grant,
Tyrone Holmes,
Rory Hughes,
Sean Lamont,
Sean Maitland,
Peter Murchie,
Euan Murray,
Gordon Reid,
Duncan Weir,
Jon Welsh
Officials Referee: Nigel Owens,
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson, Kieran Barry (both IRFU),
Citing Commissioner: John Cole (IRFU),
TMO: Seamus Fannery (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2015-03-26