Leinster have had a decent season by any account, but will aspire to finish with silverware in their attempt to retain the Pro 14 Final.
There are a few absentees due to injury, most notable are Sean O’Brien and Devin Toner. Other than that the team almost picks itself at this stage.
They face a big challenge in this Glasgow team, who were the first team to beat us at the RDS this season. The team Leinster fielded back in April was not as strong as today’s, but did feature many of the top players.
That day the visitors wanted the win more. They had yet to cement their position at the top of conference A, and were in danger of being overtaken by Munster. In the end, Glasgow were only four points ahead at the end of the season, so the five point victory they had against us made the difference between a home or away semi-final.
Glasgow destroyed Ulster in the other side of the draw last weekend by 50-20, outscoring the Irish side by seven tries to three. They mean business.
What can Leinster do? Don’t miss tackles. Don’t let them come through the centre. And when they shift the ball to the outside, use the touchline to squeeze them out. But not missing tackles is the main thing.
Leinster had the majority of possession and territory when they played in the RDS but missed twenty-six tackles. Admittedly Glasgow missed more tackles but their overall tackle count was nearly double Leinster’s at a huge 331.
The difference is the speed and danger of Stuart Hogg and his fellow backs. When they break a tackle they gain twenty or thirty meters at a minimum. Even in games where we’ve beaten Glasgow, it has been difficult to shut down the amount of territory that Hogg and co. can win for their team.
|Jamie Bhatti||1||Cian Healy|
|Draser Brown||2||Sean Cronin|
|Zander Fagerson||3||Tadhg Furlong|
|Scott Cummings||4||Scott Fardy|
|Jonny Gray||5||James Ryan|
|Rob Harley||6||Rhys Ruddock|
|Callum Gibbins (Captain)||7||Josh van der Flier|
|Matt Fagerson||8||Jack Conan|
|Ali Price||9||Luke McGrath|
|Adam Hastings||10||Johnny Sexton (Captain)|
|DTH van der Merwe||11||James Lowe|
|Sam Johnson||12||Robbie Henshaw|
|Kyle Steyn||13||Garry Ringrose|
|Tommy Seymour||14||Jordan Larmour|
|Stuart Hogg||15||Rob Kearney|
|Grant Stewart||16||Bryan Byrne|
|Oli Kebble||17||Ed Byrne|
|Siua Halanukonuka||18||Andrew Porter|
|Ryan Wilson||19||Ross Molony|
|Thomas Gordon||20||Max Deegan|
|George Horne||21||Nick McCarthy|
|Peter Horne||22||Ross Byrne|
|Huw Jones||23||Rory O’Loughlin|
Leinster know how to grind down teams. Munster looked as if the life was slowly squeezed from them last Saturday. They could not make any headway against the home side.
Expect the Irish side to attempt to keep the ball for long stretches, gradually building the pressure until they get into a position to score.
Both teams have strong set pieces with solid scrums and excellent line outs. Leinster will target these to get scores whereas Glasgow will attack anything in the loose.
The kicking game will play its part. I felt that Munster were able to stay in the game for longer than they should have been allowed based solely on their superior kicking last week. Loose box kicking to Stuart Hogg is a recipe for disaster.
Johnny Sexton will have to take more responsibility for kicking today, perhaps sitting a little deeper to give the chasing defenders further to run. But it feels that in any kicking battle we will be under pressure.
Stick to your strengths. That age old wisdom applies today. Leinster can build phases, keep the ball and cut out mistakes. If they do then they can control this game.
The longer it goes on, even with a tight scoreline, the more comfortable I will be.
The bookmakers make Leinster four point favourites and I feel that is about the right score. Leinster to win within seven points.
Nigel Owens is the match referee and he will be assisted by both a Scottish and an Irish official, Mike Adamson and John Lacey, respectively. The latter will retire after this game.