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Leinster Rugby vs Glasgow Warriors
Pro 14, Round 20
RDS Arena, Dublin
Saturday, 13th April 2019, 15:00

TV: Live on Eir Sports

After drawing with Benetton last week, the already qualified Leinster need to fulfill another meaningless fixture for them at home to Glasgow before the big match against Toulouse next week.

Glasgow won't be short of motivation though as they are still fighting for top spot of Conference A against Munster and a guaranteed home semi-final. They are at home to Edinburgh in the final match in two weeks, but given how Munster have sent a considerably weakened team to Benetton tonight a win tomorrow afternoon should clinch top spot for them.

Glasgow have had a bit of a strange league season. They set off like a train as usual winning their first three games but then somehow lost away to the Kings. They played some amazing rugby to take a healthy lead away to Munster but then somehow threw it away and lost to a last minute penalty kick. They got things back on track but then had a horrendous Christmas period losing all three games, both the derbies against Edinburgh and also away to Benetton.

Since then though they won their last six league games in a row and have been back playing their high tempo, high scoring style which is easy on the eye. They also managed to qualify out of their pool in Europe but were unfortunate to run into pool mates Saracens again who squashed them like a bug in the quarter-final. To be fair Saracens look the best team of the tournament so far and will take some stopping in the final no matter if it's Leinster or Toulouse who face them there.

Glasgow got a boost this week when their highly rated coach Dave Rennie dispelled rumours of interest from the Australian Rugby Union in making him their new head coach after the next World Cup. He signed a contract extension until 2020 and Glasgow will be glad to have him but Rennie will be determined to embellish his reputation with some silverware. As the final is in Glasgow too, the Warriors will be extra motivated to make it there.

He's named as strong a team as possible with international full back Stuart Hogg, who departs for Exeter at the end of the season, named to start again. Tommy Seymour and Niko Matawalu complete a very dangerous back three and Kyle Steyn and Sam Johnson make up a solid centre pairing. Internationals Adam Hastings and Ali Price are the halves.

The backline is unchanged from last week but in the pack Scott Cummings comes into the second-row alongside Jonny Gray. This means Rob Harley shifts to blindside where he'll link up with skipper Chris Fusaro at openside and number eight Matt Fagerson. In the only other change Jamie Bhatti starts at loose-head and Fraser Brown and Zander Fagerson are the rest of the front row. International centre Huw Jones is fit enough to be named on the bench.

For Leinster last week's game against Benetton was a stern test. As predicted the Italians were ultra physical and they gave a young team a tough lesson. To Leinster's credit though they dealt with the physicality well and made a ridiculous amount of tackles. They put themselves in a winning position and while they were disappointed not to hold on at the end, the Italians deserved their draw and the Leinster players and coaches learned a lot more from that match than another facile romp.

Leo Cullen has juggled this team somewhat but it's totally with Toulouse in mind and getting some players much needed game time. Mercifully he is able to re-introduce Devin Toner and Robbie Henshaw back to action after neither has played since the England match.

Sean O'Brien will lead out the team and he will be desperate to put in a good performance as he's been a shadow of himself this year for Ireland. If he can't make a statement tomorrow then there could be justifiable calls to start Max Deegan at number seven next week.

In the back three, Rob Kearney is joined by Jordan Larmour and Dave Kearney, with the returning Henshaw paired with Joe Tomane in the centre. Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne are the half backs. Ed Byrne, James Tracy and Michael Bent start in the front row, with Toner taking his place in the second row alongside Academy forward Jack Dunne who made a remarkable 28 tackles after coming on last week. It will be a first Leinster start for 20 year old Dunne. The back row sees Josh Murphy, captain O'Brien and Caelan Doris pack down. On the bench there is the potential for a seasonal debut for Will Connors who has missed the whole season so far with an ACL injury.

It's not a bad Leinster side and they will fight hard to maintain their unbeaten run at the RDS which goes back over twelve months. But they may just be outgunned by Glasgow tomorrow.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Glasgow Warriors
Teams Rob Kearney 15 Stuart Hogg
Jordan Larmour 14 Tommy Seymour
Joe Tomane 13 Kyle Steyn
Robbie Henshaw 12 Sam Johnson
Dave Kearney 11 Niko Matawalu
Ross Byrne 10 Adam Hastings
Jamison Gibson-Park 9 Ali Price

Ed Byrne 1 Jamie Bhatti
James Tracy 2 Fraser Brown
Michael Bent 3 Zander Fagerson
Devin Toner 4 Scott Cummings
Jack Dunne 5 Jonny Gray
Josh Murphy 6 Rob Harley
Sean O'Brien (C)
7 Chris Fusaro (C)
Caelan Doris 8 Matt Fagerson

Replacements Sean Cronin
16 Grant Stewart
Cian Healy 17 Alex Allan
Tadhg Furlong 18 D'Arcy Rae
Will Connors 19 Bruce Flockhart
Max Deegan 20
Adam Ashe
Hugh O'Sullivan 21 George Horne
Ciaran Frawley 22 Pete Horne
Adam Byrne 23 Huw Jones

Not Considered
due to Injury
Dan Leavy,
Josh van der Flier,
Mick Kearney,
Ross Molony,
Noel Reid,
Johnny Sexton,
Rory O'Loughlin

Callum Gibbins,
Nick Grigg,
Siua Halanukonuka,
Lee Jones,
Oli Kebble,
Matt Smith,
Tim Swinson,
George Turner,
DTH van der Merwe,
Ryan Wilson
Officials Referee:  Marius Mitrea (FIR),
Assistant referees: Joy Neville (IRFU), AR2: Mateo Liperini (FIR),
TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2019-04-12