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Preview: Leinster v Glasgow

11th May 2012 11:36

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Leinster celebratin Heineken Cup semi-final win over Clermont

On their way: Leinster

European champions Leinster are just 240 minutes away from picking up a RaboDirect PRO12 and Heineken Cup double. First up is facing Glasgow.

Few would bet against the Irish outfit achieving the feat after what has been a term of impressive showings, led by the knowledgeable Joe Schmidt.

What they also have in their corner is a week's rest for their starting line-up, who all sat out last week's 22-18 win over the Dragons in Newport.

Isa Nacewa will make his 100th appearance for the province as the two sides shape up for their fifth meeting this season. Nacewa, 29, has to date scored 358 career points for Leinster and he starts at full-back in a back-three which features wings Fergus McFadden and David Kearney.

Rob Kearney (back) and Brian O'Driscoll (knee) picked up niggles in training this week and have been ruled out for this weekend's game. The Ireland duo will be further assessed by the Leinster medical team over the coming days.

Gordon D'Arcy - capped 204 times for the province to date - partners the fit again Eoin O'Malley at centre, with Eoin Reddan linking up at half-back alongside Jonathan Sexton.

Jamie Heaslip leads the team and the Naas man is named in an all-Irish back-row alongside Shane Jennings and Sean O'Brien who makes his 70th appearance for the province. Devin Toner forms a second row partnership with All Black Brad Thorn.

Leo Cullen is named amongst a strong replacements bench.

Meanwhile, Glasgow Warriors' coaching team have made five changes to the starting XV that won 24-3 against Connacht in their last ever match at Firhill six days ago.

There is one switch in the backline, where Chris Cusiter replaces Henry Pyrgos at scrum-half. The other changes come in the front five, with Ryan Grant, Pat MacArthur, and Mike Cusack forming an all-new front-row and captain Al Kellock restored to the engine room.

"We've picked 23 men who we firmly believe have it in them to achieve a special result for Glasgow Warriors," coach Sean Lineen told glasgowwarriors.org.

"Once again, we're expecting the intensity and pace of the game to be Test level, and that's where the combined efforts of the starting XV and a strong bench can really come into their own.

"It's especially the case for the six front row guys that they'll all have a significant role to play, and we're in the fortunate position of having half a dozen lads who are performing to a high level, never mind the likes of Gordon Reid, Finlay Gillies and Ed Kalman who have also shown up well.

"Al Kellock and Chris Cusiter give us experience, leadership and class, but again we're delighted to have Tom Ryder and Henry Pyrgos ready and waiting to bring their influence to bear from the bench.

"The same goes for our other substitutes, Johnnie Beattie, Ruaridh Jackson and Peter Murchie, who have all made their own contribution to our season and who we're backing to deliver more tomorrow.

"The players have trained really well all week - there's an obvious hunger and determination there which stands us in good stead. We're all well aware of just how tough a match this is going to be, but we're focussing on ourselves and what we have to do to win.

"We've shown character, ability and tenacity to get ourselves into the semi-finals. The challenge now is to bring out those qualities in even bigger quantities to beat the best team in Europe."

Form: Leinster are still bidding to become the first side to achieve a European and Domestic double in the same season since Wasps in 2004. The Leinstermen have now reached the Play-Offs for a third successive season but have not won the title since 2008. Glasgow Warriors are one of just two teams to have defeated Leinster in any competition since early September, doing so 23-19 at the RDS on 17 September. The Warriors have taken six of the 20 league points Leinster have conceded this season. The Scotsmen reached this stage in 2010 but lost out to Ospreys. Glasgow have won just one of their seven previous visits to the RDS, and have won just once in Ireland since December 2009.

Ones to watch:

For Leinster: Isa Nacewa has been strong for Joe Schmidt this past twelve months and moves into the full-back jersey for a rested Rob Kearney. Elsewhere there are the dominant figures of Ireland international duo Sean O'Brien and Cian Healy to keep track of in Dublin.

For Glasgow: According to the bookies, Richie Gray will play his last game in a Glasgow shirt on Saturday before an off-season move down the road to Salford where his takes up with his new employers Sale Sharks. Gray has undoubtedly been the find of the last five years in Scottish rugby and will look to prolong his Warriors career for a further couple of weeks with a place in the RaboDirect PRO12 final. He goes up against Brad Thorn.

Prediction: Two finals in as many weeks are coming. Leinster by 14!

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Eoin O'Malley, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 David Kearney, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (capt), 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Nathan White, 19 Leo Cullen, 20 Kevin McLaughlin, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Andrew Conway.

Glasgow: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Federico Aramburu, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Chris Cusiter, 8 John Barclay, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Al Kellock (capt), 4 Richie Gray, 3 Mike Cusack, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Jon Welsh, 18 Moray Low, 19 Tom Ryder, 20 Henry Pyrgos, 21 Johnnie Beattie, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Peter Murchie.

Date: Saturday, May 12
Kick-off: 19:35 BST
Venue: RDS
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: John Lacey, Leo Colgan (both IRFU)
Citing Commissioner: Tom McCormack (IRFU)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (IRFU)

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