Leinster’s canny knack of picking up bonus point wins – both home and away – will be given a stern test when play-off rivals Glasgow Warriors visit the RDS on Saturday.
RABODIRECT PRO12: Saturday, March 1
LEINSTER (2nd) v GLASGOW WARRIORS (5th), the RDS, 8.30pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)
Team News: The Leinster team to face the Glasgow Warriors in Saturday night’s RaboDirect PRO12 encounter at the RDS has been named.
There are ten changes in personnel to Matt O’Connor’s selection from the team selected for last week’s trip to Cardiff.
There are players released from the Ireland set-up once again included from the start, while another two are named among the replacements.
O’Connor has again shuffled the pack and selected a completely new set of forwards – and an experienced one at that.
Captain Leo Cullen, Mike McCarthy and Shane Jennings will all feature from the start, with the likes of Richardt Strauss and Mike Ross available from the bench.
Elsewhere in the pack, front rowers Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Martin Moore are back in Leinster colours but renewing their international combination of late.
In the back row, Rhys Ruddock at blindside flanker and number 8 Jordi Murphy will be hoping to keep up their recent good form against the Scottish side.
In the backs Fergus McFadden makes a welcome return to the starting line-up and is selected at outside centre with Noel Reid wearing the number 12 jersey again. Darragh Fanning continues on the right wing with Luke Fitzgerald selected on the left.
Zane Kirchner, the 28-times capped South African, continues at full-back for his 15th Leinster appearance and he will be hoping to add to his two tries to date.
Ian Madigan starts for the 99th time as he returns at out-half, while Eoin Reddan is getting ever closer to his own century of Leinster caps with Saturday’s game being the Limerick man’s 96th appearance for the province.
Meanwhile, full-back Peter Murchie will return from injury for Glasgow Warriors in Dublin. The 28-year-old has been out of action since October with a dislocated shoulder but returns for the trip to face the defending league champions.
Tommy Seymour, who has been released from Scotland duty for this weekend’s game, lines up on the right wing, while Niko Matawalu moves from scrum half to the left wing in place of Lee Jones who has been named among the replacements.
There is a new centre partnership with Finn Russell moving from out-half to inside centre and lining up alongside Richie Vernon, with Mark Bennett on the bench.
Ruaridh Jackson switches from full-back to his normal position of out-half and after being released by Scotland, Chris Cusiter starts at scrum half and captains the Warriors.
Gordon Reid replaces Jerry Yanuyanutawa at loosehead prop, Pat MacArthur returns from injury at hooker in place of Dougie Hall and Mike Cusack continues at tighthead.
Tim Swinson, who has also been released by Scotland, lines up in the second row alongside the 19-year-old Jonny Gray.
James Eddie starts at blindside flanker, Rob Harley moves to openside in place of Tyrone Holmes, who is on bench duty, and Josh Strauss continues at number 8.
LEINSTER: Zane Kirchner; Darragh Fanning, Fergus McFadden, Noel Reid, Luke Fitzgerald; Ian Madigan, Eoin Reddan; Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Martin Moore, Leo Cullen (capt), Mike McCarthy, Rhys Ruddock, Shane Jennings, Jordi Murphy.
Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Michael Bent, Mike Ross, Tom Denton, Dominic Ryan, Isaac Boss, Jimmy Gopperth, Darren Hudson.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Peter Murchie; Tommy Seymour, Richie Vernon, Finn Russell, Niko Matawalu; Ruaridh Jackson, Chris Cusiter (capt); Gordon Reid, Pat MacArthur, Mike Cusack, Tim Swinson, Jonny Gray, James Eddie, Rob Harley, Josh Strauss.
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Ed Kalman, Leone Nakarawa, Tyrone Holmes, Henry Pyrgos, Mark Bennett, Lee Jones.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Stuart Gaffikin, Richard Kerr (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Alan Rogan (Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/9; Draw: 33/1; Glasgow Warriors to win: 5/1
Pre-Match Quotes: Shane Jennings (Leinster) – “The young guys are doing very, very well but I think there’s a massive onus that we have to each take these opportunities as they come our way, whoever is going to be picked this week.
“I think it’s probably a huge opportunity for all of us, not just the young guys.
“I think Glasgow have got a very good squad. We’ve always had very difficult games against them and we’ve played them in a few semis in the league and we’ve a lot of respect for them.
“This season their away form has been really good. They’ve beaten us over there already so I think they’ll be pretty confident that they can come over here and do a job.
“Obviously we want to rectify what happened earlier on this season (losing away to Glasgow). But at the same time the most important thing is that we win and we perform and we get better.
“We’ve got to start improving, we’ve got to start taking ownership as players and making sure that we’re doing things better and that’ll put us in better positions for weeks to come.”
Gregor Townsend (Glasgow Warriors) – “We were very disappointed to lose at the Dragons last weekend and we’ll need a much better performance tomorrow night in Dublin.
“Leinster are one of the top teams in the league and are the defending champions, so this game will give us a good indication of where we are as a team.
“It’s great to have Peter Murchie back involved again after his injury lay-off and we’ve also been boosted this week by the return of Tommy Seymour, Chris Cusiter and Tim Swinson from the Scotland squad.
“Our recent encounters have all been very close and we’re expecting another tight match tomorrow night.”
Top Scorers – 2013/14 RaboDirect PRO12: Leinster – Points: Jimmy Gopperth 109; Tries: Noel Reid, Jack McGrath, Darren Hudson 3 each; Glasgow Warriors – Points: Duncan Weir 42; Tries: Byron McGuigan, DTH van der Merwe, Mark Bennett, James Eddie, Niko Matawalu 2 each
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
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
Friday, September 20, 2013 – Glasgow Warriors 12 Leinster 6, Scotstoun Stadium
– Leinster’s only defeat in the RaboDirect PRO12 since round 5 came away at Edinburgh on December 20
– The Leinstermen have not been defeated at the RDS in any competition since last March. Leinster have lost their last two fixtures with Scottish opponents, but the only Scottish side to have won at the RDS remains Glasgow, who did so in September 2011
– Glasgow Warriors’ record-breaking sequence of seven successive away victories in the PRO12 ended last Sunday with their narrow 24-23 defeat at the Dragons
– Glasgow have won four of the five matches they have played against Irish provinces this season
– The Warriors were 12-6 winners when the two sides met at Scotstoun Stadium in round 3 and are going for a first ever season’s double over Leinster
– Glasgow’s only previous victory on Leinster soil in 18 previous visits in all competitions was 23-19 at the RDS in the PRO12 on September 17, 2011