Glasgow and Leinster know a win is the only option as they face off
Michael Bent could be making his final appearance for the province after 158 games
Leinster’s Luke McGrath will captain the side in the meeting with Glasgow. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Rainbow Cup: Glasgow Warriors v Leinster
Kick-off: 8.15pm, Friday. Venue: Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow. On TV: Live on eir Sport.
This is a must-win game for both sides but, for whoever wins, their chances of topping the northern half of the Rainbow Cup and reaching the final in Treviso on June 19th are out of their hands. In truth, the odds on either of them doing so appear remote.
Leinster need to win both their remaining games with bonus points and significantly boost their points difference, which is the poorest of the five teams still mathematically in contention going into this week’s penultimate round of fixtures.
Even a haul of 19 points can be eclipsed not only by Benetton winning their fifth and final game away to the Ospreys next Saturday, but also by the Welsh region and Munster, who can reach 20 points by winning with a bonus point in Zebre next Friday.
As well as trailing Benetton by three points, even if Glasgow complete their programme with a bonus point win to reach 20 points, their points difference is currently 10 worse off than Munster.
Hugo Keenan, Tommy O’Brien, Rory O’Loughlin, Ed Byrne, Rónan Kelleher, Michael Bent and Ross Molony all return. Andrew Porter is named on the bench, while Leinster’s other three Lions, Tadhg Furlong, Jack Conan and Robbie Henshaw are all rested, presumably with next week’s RDS finale in front of 1,200 fans against the Dragons in mind. As expected this game has come a week too early for Jamison Gibson-Park and Johnny Sexton.
Luke McGrath again captains the side in what will be his 150th game and this match might also mark a 158th and final appearance by the retiring Michael Bent.
Answering something of an SOS call when making his Test debut for Ireland against South Africa in 2012 before his first Leinster outing, Bent won the last of his four caps in 2015, but he became a cornerstone of Leinster’s four Pr14 titles in a row, playing in 59 of their 80 games in the last four campaigns.
“Initially, I literally decided to go over for the two years and see what happened and I certainly couldn’t have imagined that I would play this amount of times and this long for Leinster.”
Bent intends initially to make use of his qualifications as an electrician and an instrumentation technician before ultimately taking over the family dairy farm in north Taranaki.
“I’ve got two kids that were born over here so there will always be a connection to the place and my grandmother was from here, but nine years living here and I’ve done a bit of travelling in the country and seen some amazing sights.
“I will still be looking to come back and visit whenever I can and my two kids will have a connection to the place as well and in years to come they might look to come back and see Ireland as much as they can as well.”
Leinster have won their last five matches against Glasgow since the Warriors 39-24 victory at the RDS in April 2019 and the favourable weather forecast should suit two teams who like to throw the ball about.
Glasgow Warriors: Adam Hastings, Kyle Steyn, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Cole Forbes, Ross Thompson, George Horne; Aki Seiuli, Fraser Brown, Enrique Pieretto, Rob Harley, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson, Rory Darge, Matt Fagerson.Replacements: George Turner, Tom Lambert, D’arcy Rae, Kiran McDonald, Thomas Gordon, Sean Kennedy, Stafford McDowall, Niko Matawalu.
Leinster: Hugo Keenan, Tommy O’Brien, Garry Ringrose, Rory O’Loughlin, Jimmy O’Brien, Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath (C); Ed Byrne, Rónan Kelleher, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, James Ryan, Josh Murphy Josh van der Flier, Calean Doris. Replacements: Dan Sheehan, Peter Dooley, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Scott Penny, Rowan Osborne, Jordan Larmour, Cian Kelleher.
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU).
Forecast: Leinster to win.