Match Preview | Leinster
Glasgow Warriors face one of the toughest tests in European rugby this weekend, as Danny Wilson’s men make the trip to Dublin to take on defending Guinness PRO14 champions Leinster.
The Irish province are in the hunt for a fourth consecutive title in the competition, and boast a formidable home record having lost just once in Dublin in the last two and a half seasons.
Aside from that sole defeat at the hands of Connacht, though, it was the Warriors who were the last to conquer the RDS in the thrilling 39-24 win in April 2019.
With a blend of youth and experience set to take to the field in a Glasgow shirt on Sunday evening, the stage is set for another intriguing Guinness PRO14 clash.
Here’s how the hosts are looking ahead of the match:
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Leinster form guide
Leo Cullen’s side currently sit on top of Conference A, having claimed 11 wins from a possible 12 in the competition so far in 2020/21.
Only defeat at the hands of a Jack Carty-inspired Connacht in their first match of 2021 prevents the province from being able to boast a perfect record, as they look to defend their crown.
The RDS outfit has shown that it’s capable of winning in every style this season; whether in a 63-8 victory over Zebre at home or grinding out a 13-10 win away to Munster, Cullen’s men have had the answers on almost every occasion.
A ruthlessly efficient 35-29 win away to the Dragons last time out saw them record their eleventh bonus-point of the campaign, handing them a vital five-point cushion over Ulster at the top of the table.
Experienced Irish internationals headlined the departing cohort after Leinster’s 2020 title win, as the retiring Fergus McFadden and the Australia-bound Rob Kearney said farewell to the province.
Brian Byrne was another to depart the RDS as he made the switch to Bristol Bears, whilst Australian international Joe Tomane joined Japanese side Ricoh Black Rams.
Three highly-rated Irish prospects were also amongst those to leave the province, with Jack Aungier and Oisin Dowling moving to Connacht and Ronan Salanoa joining Munster.
As has become a near-tradition for Leinster, the summer saw Cullen’s side promote from within rather than recruit from elsewhere.
Ryan Baird and Harry Byrne headlined the graduates from the Leinster academy, with the former called into the Ireland squad ahead of the Autumn Nations Cup.
Pacy centre Tommy O’Brien was another to earn a promotion to the senior squad, alongside second-rower and Dublin University student Jack Dunne.
Ones to watch
Many Irish pundits are tipping Harry Byrne to follow his brother Ross’ path to international honours before too long, and with good reason; the fly-half’s displays in Leinster colours have seen him challenge both his brother and Johnny Sexton for the number 10 shirt, even when the trio are all fit and available.
In an area in which Leinster continue to display impressive depth, Scott Penny is a player who continues to catch the eye. Comfortable across the back-row, the 21-year-old is likely to be the next back-rower from the province to progress to the green of Ireland.
Now 34, Sean Cronin forms part of a vastly experienced spine to the Leinster machine. The hooker is approaching 200 appearances for the defending champions, with his nous around the field and nose for the try-line making him a valuable asset to Cullen’s side.
It’s Leinster who hold the upper hand in the most recent meetings between the two sides, having earned a 32-19 victory at Scotstoun earlier this season.
Despite tries from George Horne, D’arcy Rae and Thomas Gordon, five tries from Leinster saw the champions ultimately emerge victorious in Glasgow’s first-ever Monday night clash.
The men in blue were in dominant form on Glasgow’s last visit to the RDS, as hat-tricks for Ryan Baird and Dave Kearney gave Leinster a 55-19 win in February 2020.
Tommy Seymour, Kyle Steyn and Alex Allan were on the scoresheet for the Warriors, in what was ultimately the club’s last game before the COVID-19-enforced suspension of the 2019/20 season.
Frank Murphy will be in charge of Sunday evening’s clash at the RDS, with the IRFU official taking charge of his 41st match in the Guinness PRO14.
Chris Busby and Robert O’Sullivan will be on the touchlines as his assistants, with Television Match Official Olly Hodges completing the officiating team.
The match will be live on Premier Sports 1 on Sunday evening – kick-off is scheduled for 5.30pm.
You can also follow all the build-up and action as it happens on our Live Match Centre on glasgowwarriors.org.