It is second plays third in the RaboDirect PRO12 tonight as Glasgow Warriors meet Leinster for the first time since last season’s 17-15 semi-final win for the province in Dublin.
RABODIRECT PRO12: Friday, September 20
GLASGOW WARRIORS (2nd) v LEINSTER (3rd), Scotstoun Stadium, 7.35pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)
Team News: The Leinster team to face Glasgow Warriors in Friday night’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash at Scotstoun Stadium has been named.
Shane Jennings leads the team for the third successive week for the trip to Scotland in a pack which sees Ireland hooker Richardt Strauss, who is set to make his 85th provincial appearance, continue in the front row alongside Jack McGrath and Mike Ross.
Tom Denton is the only change to the starting forwards and he lines out in the second row alongside Mike McCarthy.
Scrum half Isaac Boss will make his first start of the campaign after coming on as a replacement against the Ospreys to make his 79th Leinster appearance. He will form a new half-back partnership with the PRO12’s joint top scorer Jimmy Gopperth (26 points in two games).
Ian Madigan, who saw action as a first half replacement against the Ospreys, will start at full-back this time with Darragh Fanning and David Kearney named on the wings.
2013 Lions Cian Healy and Rob Kearney are included on a strong replacements bench alongside fellow Ireland internationals Eoin Reddan and Devin Toner.
Meanwhile, Chris Cusiter has been recalled to the Glasgow Warriors starting line-up and will captain the side against defending league champions Leinster.
After an 11-month spell on the sidelines the Scotland scrum half returned to action last month in an appearance off the bench against Exeter Chiefs and then went on to feature as a replacement against both Cardiff and Ulster.
In total, Warriors boss Gregor Townsend has made five changes and one positional switch to the side that defeated Ulster at Ravenhill last Friday.
Alex Dunbar, Jon Welsh, Chris Fusaro, Richie Vernon and Cusiter come into the team, with Sean Lamont moving from centre to the right wing.
Stuart Hogg keeps his place at full-back, with Lamont and DTH van der Merwe occupying the wings. Mark Bennett and Dunbar combine in the centre, with Ruaridh Jackson and Cusiter forming the half-back partnership.
The only change to the front row is the inclusion of Welsh in place of Ed Kalman, alongside Pat MacArthur and Ryan Grant.
The 19-year-old Jonny Gray and Tim Swinson will combine again in the second row, while only Rob Harley keeps his place in the back row, with Vernon coming in at number 8 and Fusaro starting at openside flanker.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Stuart Hogg; Sean Lamont, Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar, DTH van der Merwe; Ruaridh Jackson, Chris Cusiter (capt); Ryan Grant, Pat MacArthur, Jon Welsh, Jonny Gray, Tim Swinson, Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Richie Vernon.
Replacements: Dougie Hall, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Ed Kalman, James Eddie, Josh Strauss, Henry Pyrgos, Scott Wight, Byron McGuigan.
LEINSTER: Ian Madigan; David Kearney, Brendan Macken, Gordon D’Arcy, Darragh Fanning; Jimmy Gopperth, Isaac Boss; Jack McGrath, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, Mike McCarthy, Tom Denton, Kevin McLaughlin, Shane Jennings (capt), Jordi Murphy.
Replacements: Aaron Dundon, Cian Healy, Martin Moore, Devin Toner, Dominic Ryan, Eoin Reddan, Noel Reid, Rob Kearney.
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Neil Paterson, Adrian Graves (both Scotland)
Television Match Official: Iain Ramage (Scotland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Glasgow Warriors to win: 8/13; Draw: 22/1; Leinster to win: 11/8
Pre-Match Quotes: Guy Easterby (Leinster) – “I think everyone is aware just how good Glasgow are and to be honest I hadn’t seen the Ulster game but wasn’t surprised when I read the score and from that thought someone must have scored late.
“We have had our own battles with them down the years and in last year’s semi-final in particular when (Stuart) Hogg missed a late kick and I know (Gregor) Townsend has spoken about how motivated they are to beat us after coming so close.
“Every time we played them last year we ended up coming away with the spoils, but the games were very close and we are expecting the same thing this week.
“We went there (Scotstoun) during last year’s autumn international period and only won 6-0 in perfect conditions, so I think you can see this is going to be a very close game and we have to go there and look for a result.
“But certainly with the way Glasgow have been playing, the confidence they have as a group that they have built over the last year to 18 months is telling that they are a very good side and we are going to have to be at our absolute best if we are going to beat them.”
Gregor Townsend (Glasgow Warriors) – “We’re delighted to have won our first two games of the season but we’ll need to raise our level of performance against Leinster.
“They have been consistently one of the leading teams in Europe for some time now and have only lost once in their last 20 games. It will require one of our very best performances in order to win on Friday.
“There wasn’t much between the sides last season and we came close to winning on a couple of occasions. We learned a great deal from those games – how we will have to work hard for 80 minutes and take any opportunities that come our way.
“Our intensity at training has gone up a notch this week and the players are very focused on what is a highly anticipated match.
“We’re all really pleased to see Chris Cusiter back involved again after his injury lay-off, and as captain he will undoubtedly have a big role to play.”
Top Scorers – 2013/14 RaboDirect PRO12: Glasgow Warriors – Points: Stuart Hogg 8; Tries: Tommy Seymour, James Eddie 1 each; Leinster – Points: Jimmy Gopperth 36; Tries: David Kearney 2
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Saturday, September 17, 2011 – Leinster 19 Glasgow Warriors 23, the RDS
Saturday, February 25, 2011 – Glasgow Warriors 10 Leinster 10, Firhill Stadium
Saturday, May 12, 2012 – Semi-final – Leinster 19 Glasgow Warriors 15, the RDS
Friday, November 23, 2012 – Glasgow Warriors 0 Leinster 6, Scotstoun Stadium
Sunday, March 23, 2013 – Leinster 22 Glasgow Warriors 17, the RDS
Saturday, May 11, 2013 – Semi-final – Leinster 17 Glasgow Warriors 15, the RDS
– Glasgow Warriors have been victorious in rounds 1 and 2 of the RaboDirect PRO12, but have not won their opening three encounters at the start of a season since the 2002/03 campaign
– The Warriors have won their last eight fixtures at Scotstoun Stadium in all competitions since Castres Olympique beat them there in the Heineken Cup last December
– Leinster’s only defeat in their last 20 matches in all competitions was to Ulster at the RDS in March
– The Leinstermen have won all eight games they have played away from home in 2013, and have not lost to Scottish opponents since Glasgow visited the RDS in September 2011
– Glasgow are winless in their last seven encounters with Leinster in all competitions, although they did draw 10-all at Firhill Stadium in the PRO12 in February 2012