Leinster braced for Glasgow Warriors’ challenge
Absence of several first-teamers ensures a tough assignment for Matt O’Connor’s side
Ian Madigan: will assume the place-kicing duties for Leinster against Glasgow. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
Glasgow Warriors may not be at full strength either, but Gregor Townsend’s men journey to Dublin with a real chance of overturning last season’s Grand Final defeat.
There is sympathy for Matt O’Connor’s plight as Townsend can instantly recall fullback Stuart Hogg, Scotland’s excellent young centre Mark Bennett and outhalf Finn Russell. Tommy Seymour, Fraser Brown, Tim Swinson, Rob Harley, Jonny Gray and Adam Ashe are others on the receiving end of Saturday’s 40-10 whipping in Murrayfield offered a modicum of revenge.
It’s also an opportunity to further damage Leinster hopes of making the play-offs. Should the latter fail, that would be a first.
Ireland’s refusal to release Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien, Jack McGrath and Mike Ross is understandable but the unavailability of locks Devin Toner and Kane Douglas (hamstring) might well decide the result.
Rhys Ruddock (arm) is another notable absentee even if the backrow stocks remain plentiful. Shane Jennings leads from openside alongside Jordi Murphy and Jack Conan with Dominic Ryan set to make an impact.
So will Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Luke Fitzgerald.
In the meantime Ben Te’o, looking primed to collide with Sam Burgess, his former Rugby League team-mate at the South Sydney Rabbioths, next weekend when Bath arrive, gets to show his development at outside centre.
Ian Madigan’s place-kicking value keeps Gordon D’Arcy benched. Tonight, there is no margin for error.
Glasgow are without Euan Murray (head), Ryan Grant, Sean Lamont and Sean Maitland. The bookies see Leinster as six-point favourites. It might be tighter but high stakes are when they usual thrive. Especially at home.
LEINSTER: Z Kirchner; F McFadden, B Te’o, I Madigan, D Kearney; J Gopperth, E Reddan; M Bent, R Strauss, M Moore; T Denton, M McCarthy; J Murphy, S Jennnings (capt), J Conan. Replacements: S Cronin, C Healy, T Furlong, B Marshall, D Ryan, I Boss, G D’Arcy, L Fitzgerald.
GLASGOW: S Hogg; T Seymour, M Bennett, P Horne, DTH van der Merwe; F Russell, N Matawalu; A Allan, F Brown, Z Fagerson; T Swinson, A Kellock (capt); R Harley, C Fusaro, J Strauss. Replacements: P MacArthur, J Yanuyanutawa, M Cusack, J Gray, A Ashe, H Pyrgos, C Braid, R Vernon.
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU).