Date: 12th May 2012
Referee: George Clancy
Venue: RDS Stadium
No doubt the odds on favourites to take the title in this competition, Leinster’s form has been nothing short of impressive in all of their campaigns. They will be looking to continue this run come the weekend, knowing that a strong win here will keep their chances of some silverware alive, and would also give them a strong positive momentum going into the Heineken Cup Final the following weekend.
Its seems as though Leinster have learnt from the last encounter with the Scottish side, a gritty 10-10 draw at Firhill, and the strength in the pack is evident in the selections this week. And with all of the players who were rested following the victory over Clermont back and fit for selection, it is a formidable team that will run out on Saturday.
Winning the double is definitely on the cards for the Irish side, which have the home advantage and the historical advantage.
A team that many had written off at the start of the season, the Warriors have stunned many with their play, their consistency and their results. They reached the play-offs in the season before last before crashing out of the competition.
Although consistent in their results Glasgow’s performances have taken things right to the wire on more than one occasion, and the majority of their first halves have been edgy resulting in errors and mistakes, which a side like Leinster will be ready to take full advantage of, before turning things around in the second half.
With several key names departing from the Warriors set-up, including lock Richie Gray and head coach Sean Lineen; the team are determined to take this all the way. They do have the form to go through to finals, as when they play they do play well, it will come down more to whether they can hold their nerve.
What to Expect:
The Warriors have nothing to lose, as they go into this match as underdogs. I expect for this to be a physical game, forwards heavy, with the scores not really coming any higher than about 25. Both teams will try and open it up to get their wingers in on the action, and one would hope to see DTH Van der Merwe continuing his late in the season comeback, as well as plenty of pace from the likes of Stuart Hogg and Isa Nacewa.
Head to Head: Jonathan Sexton & Duncan Weir
The solid and reliable fly half versus the anomaly. By many standards Weir should not be a fly half, and yet over the course of this season he has demonstrated skill and control beyond his years, and not to mention a fantastical kicking range and accuracy record. The battle between Sexton and Weir will be a good one played out on the field. When it comes down to range and accuracy the Glaswegian edges it, he is the second leading points scorer in the competition behind Ospreys Dan Biggar. However when it comes down to big games, Sexton is the consummate professional, whereas Weir looked nervy against Connacht. Given the type of game it is likely to be on Saturday, it is highly likely that it may be won and lost here.
Ones to Watch: Richie Gray & Eoin O’Malley
If Glasgow lose at the weekend, this will be Richie Gray’s last game in a Warriors jersey. Gray’s career has risen to fantastic heights since storming to international attention with his blonde locks, height, strength in the set pieces and galloping runs. Things he is well known for in Glasgow. Despite a move to Sale Sharks ahead of him, Gray has always said that he would give his all for the Warriors up until the end, and I think his performance on Saturday will show that he, and the rest of the team, have little intention of letting this be their last game.
Meanwhile in the year where he was tipped to breakthrough into the Ireland setup, outside centre Eoin O’Malley has struggled with injury, with this Saturday being his first game since the end of March. A talented runner hailed as Brian O’Driscoll’s natural successor, he truly is an outstanding prospect work keeping an eye on this weekend.
I will admit a certain bias here, as I have been working with the Warriors all season, and I know that they can pull this off. However as much as I want them to, Leinster are experts in this arena, and have been in top form all season. Glasgow will need to play at their best for the full 80minutes.
My head says Leinster by 9. But I really hope that I am wrong and that we do see the upset.