Match Preview - Leinster
A trip to face the defending champions in their own back yard awaits Glasgow Warriors this weekend, with Dave Rennie’s side heading to the RDS to take on Leinster on Friday night.
The visitors head to the Irish capital in good stead, following back-to-back bonus-point victories at Scotstoun.
A brace from Grant Stewart spearheaded a 34-19 victory over the Dragons last time out, as the Warriors ran in five tries to overwhelm their visitors from South Wales.
There will be no underestimating of their hosts on Friday night, though, with Leinster having shown their prowess as a European powerhouse over the 2019/20 season.
Here’s how the two sides are shaping up ahead of the match:
Leinster form guide
Leo Cullen’s men are currently sitting pretty atop Guinness PRO14 Conference A, having recorded 12 wins from 12 outings in the competition thus far in 2019/20.
A Dave Kearney hat-trick saw the Leinstermen edge past Benetton 32-27 in their opening match of the season, before comprehensive wins over the Ospreys and Edinburgh preceded a round four 3-0 slugfest in Parma.
A half-century in victory over the Dragons in round five put the men in blue back on track, with wins away to Connacht and the Warriors sending them into the festive derbies in rude health.
Twice more Cullen’s men breached the 50-point barrier in home victories over Ulster and Connacht, before successive victories over the Cheetahs and the Ospreys kept them flying high in Conference A.
May’s title victory at Celtic Park was the final act in a Leinster shirt for two of the club’s established Ireland internationals, with both Sean O’Brien and Jack McGrath saying their farewells to the RDS.
Loose-head prop McGrath made the journey north to join up with former Glasgow assistant Dan McFarland at Ulster, whilst back-row stalwart O’Brien crossed the Irish Sea to join up with his new team-mates at London Irish.
Utility back Noel Reid also made the switch to the English Premiership in agreeing a deal with Leicester Tigers, with second-row duo Ian Nagle and Mick Kearney each agreeing to join Guinness PRO14 rivals Zebre.
Cullen and company preferred to recruit from within over the off-season, with no fewer than seven players promoted from the renowned Leinster academy.
Hooker Ronan Kelleher has caught the eye most frequently in 2019/20, sitting joint-second in the try-scoring charts halfway through the season.
Fly-half Ciaran Frawley and back-rower Scott Penny have also been key players in Leinster’s unbeaten run, as the province’s strength in depth has proven to be a crucial asset on both domestic and European fronts.
Ones to watch
With a host of experienced internationals involved with Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations squad, Scott Fardy provides valuable leadership in the heart of Leinster’s pack. The Australian international is equally capable of proving to be a menace from the second or back-row, whilst also providing a link in Leinster’s attack.
New Zealand scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park has proven to be a shrewd acquisition since arriving in 2016, his speed around the base of the ruck constantly keeping defenders on their toes. A former Maori All Black, the 27-year-old also has Super Rugby experience from his time with the Blues and Hurricanes.
Overlooked by Ireland for their Guinness Six Nations campaign, Leinster fans will be relishing the experience provided by Rob Kearney at full-back. Capped 95 times by Ireland and a two-time British and Irish Lion, his big-game nous and tactical kicking are key weapons in Leinster’s arsenal.
It was Leinster that struck the first blow this season when the two sides met at Scotstoun at the end of November, Cullen’s men emerging 23-10 victors in Glasgow’s west end.
Despite an early brace from Ruaridh Jackson, two tries from Cian Kelleher and the boot of Ross Byrne was enough for the men in blue to travel home with the win.
It was a different story on Glasgow’s last visit to Dublin, however; a combination of clinical attack and concrete defence handed Rennie’s side a 39-24 win, in a result still fondly remembered by the Warrior Nation.
A world-record 43 tackles from Jonny Gray led the defensive effort in headline-making fashion, with Sam Johnson’s try in that match going on to be voted as the club’s Try of the Season.
Nigel Owens is the man in the middle for Friday night’s all-Conference A clash, with the Welshman taking charge of his 183rd match in the Guinness PRO14.
Joy Neville and Wayne Davies will be on the touchlines as his assistants, alongside Ian Davies in the broadcast trucks as the TMO.
The match is live on Premier Sports 2 this Friday, with kick-off scheduled for 7.35pm.
Glasgow Warriors supporters can follow the match from the club’s Official Fan Zone, The Old Schoolhouse on Woodlands Road, as well as follow all the action in our Live Match Centre at glasgowwarriors.org.