Preview: Glasgow v Leinster

Date published: February 24 2012

Glasgow will look to pick up where they left off in their last RaboDirect PRO12 meeting with Leinster when the Irish side come to Firhill.

Glasgow Warriors will look to pick up where they left off in their last RaboDirect PRO12 meeting with Leinster when the Irish side come to Firhill for a crunch top four clash.

The Dubliners have racked up a terrific recent record, winning 17 and drawing one of their last 18 games since the Warriors inflicted a 23-19 reverse at the RDS last September.

That was the first loss Leinster had suffered at home in almost two calendar years, and they claimed revenge by winning the subsequent two Heineken Cup meetings between the teams, most recently at Firhill in January.

Following a frustrating draw away to Connacht last Saturday, Sean Lineen's men know it's vital they get back to winning ways this weekend, when they will look to land an eighth victory in nine home encounters in all competitions.

Glasgow have never before done the double over Leinster in a single season, and are under no illusions as to the calibre of performance that will be required to interrupt this trend on Saturday.

“The business end of the RaboDirect PRO12 season is well and truly here now, and such is the tight nature of the table, there isn't much margin for error,” said Lineen.

“Three of our next four games are at home, and it's vital we exploit that to our advantage, starting with Saturday's match against Leinster.

“They've got a big squad with top players right throughout it. Their rugby is the definition of relentless and they punish every mistake.

“We know our individual decision-making has to be spot on, and our composure right up there with anything we've produced so far this season.

“If that happens, we should be in a good place, because our collective systems have been a real strength all year and there's a terrific amount of trust and belief within the group.

“The players have risen to the challenge so many times already, and tomorrow is another day for standing up and being counted so that we continue to stake a strong claim for a place in the top four.”

The Warriors starting line-up for the game shows four changes to that which ran out in Galway six days ago.

One of the switches is enforced, Alex Dunbar taking the place of Graeme Morrison, who starts for Scotland in Sunday's Six Nations game against France at Murrayfield.

Dunbar will play at 13, with Troy Nathan moving to inside centre. Elsewhere in the back division, Colin Shaw comes onto the wing in place of Tommy Seymour, who will be among the replacements.

There are a further two changes in the front five, where tight-head prop Mike Cusack makes a first appearance since injuring an ankle in the New Year's Day victory over Edinburgh, and Nick Campbell comes in at lock in place of Rob Verbakel.

The 22-year-old Scottish Rugby Elite Development player scored a try in the RDS triumph five months ago and recovered from a recent knee injury to take a place on the bench for the win over Scarlets at Firhill on February 9.

With Al Kellock and Morrison both on national team service, the team will be captained by Rob Harley, who skippered them to success in that previous RaboDirect PRO12 fixture against Leinster.

Meanwhile, Isa Nacewa – who has now scored 105 points in twelve PRO12 games for Leinster so far this season – continues in the back three alongside Fionn Carr and David Kearney.

Brendan Macken resumes his centre partnership with Colm O'Shea who started the 42-8 victory over Benetton Treviso two weeks ago.

At half-back, Ireland international Isaac Boss again partners Ian Madigan who is the tournament's second top try-scorer this season with six.

Heinke van der Merwe joins Richardt Strauss and Nathan White in the front row with Mullingar second row Mark Flanagan set to earn his sixth Leinster cap when he lines up alongside Damian Browne at lock.

Shane Jennings leads the team and is joined by Dominic Ryan and Leo Auva'a in the back row.

Andrew Conway takes his place amongst a replacements bench which also includes the likes of Eoin O'Malley and Devin Toner.

Form: Glasgow Warriors' only loss in their last eleven matches in the RaboDirect PRO12 was 14-16 at Scarlets on 7 January (a run which now includes three draws). The Warriors have won seven of their last eight encounters at Firhill in all competitions. The Leinster juggernaut keeps rolling along with a dozen successive wins and 18 matches without defeat in all competitions. The Warriors have not won away from home since they visited Aironi on 5 November. Glasgow are one of only two sides to have beaten Leinster in any tournament this season (the other is Ospreys), doing so at the RDS in round three of the RaboDirect PRO12 – the Warriors have never done a league double over the Leinstermen in the same season.

The teams:

Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 David Lemi, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Troy Nathan, 11 Colin Shaw, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley (c), 5 Tom Ryder, 4 Nick Campbell, 3 Mike Cusack, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Jon Welsh, 18 Gordon Reid, 19 Rob Verbakel, 20 Calum Forrester, 21 Scott Wight, 22 Federico Aramburu, 23 Tommy Seymour.

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 David Kearney, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Colm O'Shea, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Leo Auva'a, 7 Shane Jennings (c), 6 Dominic Ryan, 5 Mark Flanagan, 4 Damian Browne, 3 Nathan White, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 John Cooney, 22 Eoin O'Malley, 23 Andrew Conway.

Date: Saturday, February 25
Kick-off: 18:00
Venue: Firhill
Referee: John Lacey
Assistant Referees: Andrew McMenemy, Graeme Marshall
Citing Commissioner: Douglas Hunter
TMO: Jim Yuille