Leinster looking to take up where they left off as Glasgow come looking for revenge

Leo Cullen’s side ran in 12 tries in a 76-14 URC quarter-final win over the Scottish side last June

URC: Leinster v Glasgow, Saturday, RDS, 3.15 – Live on RTÉ One & Premier Sport

Despite their momentum being interrupted – and they lost at home to Ulster after last season’s Six Nations – Leinster will attempt to resume where they left atop the URC table against a wounded and motivated Glasgow side.

Leo Cullen’s charges are also boosted by the return of Rónan Kelleher for his first appearance since September, while Harry Byrne is in line for his first outing of the season off the bench.

Aside from Kelleher, the only other two changes from the side which beat the Scarlets 35-5 sees the talented Jamie Osborne make just a second start for the province at fullback, with the newly capped Joe McCarthy recalled.


Noting blustery showers are forecast, Cullen said: “It’s just making sure we’re not shocked by the intensity of games. You need to get to the pitch fairly quickly because you can replicate certain things in training, but the game is the game. But it will be similar for Glasgow.”

Impressed by Glasgow’s 37-0 win over Benetton, he described his counterpart Franco Smith as a smart coach who “understands the teams in our league which gives him a strong advantage coming in. So, it will be a good test for our guys, but that is what we want going into the following week and Europe after that.”

Cullen was at pains to disregard the sides’ last meeting, when Leinster ran in 12 tries in a 76-14 quarter-final win last June, pointing to the “struggles” they’ve had with Glasgow in the past.

Leinster hold a 28-14 head-to-head record, with two matches drawn, although they have lost only one of the last eight meetings.

Smith welcomes back nine players from international duty, including the newly capped Murphy Walker and Jack Dempsey.

Similarly, he makes just three changes, with Dempsey returning and George Horne and Tom Jordan resuming their combination at halfback.

The Warriors have a score to settle in light of that humiliating last meeting, which led directly to Danny Wilson losing his job as head coach.

Their 25-year-old Kiwi fullback Josh McKay is one of a dozen survivors in the matchday squad. “We’d come off a tough run of games when we headed there last season and I think it is a good time to have a crack at them after a couple of weeks of, meaning a lot of the boys will be feeling really fresh.

Replacement scrumhalf Jamie Dobie added: “With the squad that we’ve got there’s no doubt that we can give them a good match and come away with a win.”

Fighting words indeed, but while the Warriors have recorded three handsome home wins, three heavy away defeats leaves them with one win in their last 12 games on the road.

This will be a good deal tougher than last time, but Leinster look to have enough firepower, and impact off the bench, to maintain their unbeaten start.

LEINSTER: Jamie Osborne; Rob Russell, Liam Turner, Charlie Ngatai, Dave Kearney; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath; Ed Byrne, Rónan Kelleher, Thomas Clarkson; Ross Molony, Joe McCarthy; Rhys Ruddock (capt), Scott Penny, Max Deegan.

Replacements: John McKee, Michael Milne, Vakh Abdaladze, Jason Jenkins, Ryan Baird, Cormac Foley, Harry Byrne, Chris Cosgrave

GLASGOW WARRIORS: Josh McKay; Sebastian Cancelliere, Kyle Steyn (capt), Stafford McDowall, Rufus McLean; Tom Jordan, George Horne; Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown, Murphy Walker; Sintu Manjezi, Alex Samuel; Gregor Brown, Sione Vailanu, Jack Dempsey.

Replacements: Johnny Matthews, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan, JP du Preez, Lewis Bean, Euan Ferrie, Jamie Dobie, Ross Thompson.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (SARU).

Forecast: Leinster to win..

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times