Saturday 10 December 2016

Sexton and D'Arcy hand Leinster lift for fortress Firhill

Published 10/01/2012 | 05:00

Gordon D'Arcy shrugged off a knock to his ribs to take part in yesterday's session
Gordon D'Arcy shrugged off a knock to his ribs to take part in yesterday's session

THE way things have been going for Leinster of late, yesterday's announcement that both Gordon D'Arcy and Jonathan Sexton are expected to be fit for Sunday's Heineken Cup clash with Glasgow is hardly surprising.

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Joe Schmidt's side are on an eight-game winning streak in all competitions; they enjoy a nine-point cushion at the top of the Pro12 table; and a win against Glasgow would secure their passage to the last eight in Europe with a game left to play.

With the controversy regarding the incoming restrictions on foreign players still raging, Leinster had the luxury of naming an all-Irish starting XV last Saturday in another demonstration of their strength in depth, which was handed a further boost when fears regarding the fitness of the Ireland duo were allayed.

If D'Arcy touches down on Sunday, he'll become only the fifth player to score 25 tries in the Heineken Cup, while Sexton is joint top-scorer in this season's competition on 60 points alongside Ospreys' Dan Biggar.

After seeing his side handed a lesson in the RDS when the sides met in November, Glasgow coach Sean Lineen led the plaudits yesterday, describing Leinster's game plan as "pretty much complete", with Sexton making them "even that little bit more special".

However, the Leinster out-half sees room for improvement.

"Results-wise we are going well, but there are a few aspects to our game that Joe has been highlighting as not up to scratch," Sexton said.

"The breakdown has been a bit inconsistent at times and that is probably the main one.

"Our discipline hasn't been great at times either, so those are two aspects that we can concentrate on. They will be key this week against Glasgow at Firhill."

Glasgow will be without out-half Ruaridh Jackson and tight-head Moray Low, but they will still be a formidable outfit at Firhill -- they haven't lost there since September.

Sexton believes that the narrow confines of the ground -- the home of Partick Thistle FC -- will present its own challenges.

"I have played there before and it's a tight pitch. It's a soccer ground, so I will have to get my bearings in terms of kick-offs and stuff like that to make sure I am not kicking them out on the full," he said.

"The surface sometimes isn't great, so we will just wait and see what it will be like this weekend.

"They will be looking at this as a one-off and will be really fired up to take our scalp. Their coach said that they got bullied at the breakdown in Dublin, so I'm sure they will target that area. They will have seen a bit of weakness in that area in our game in the last few weeks.

"We have to take a few lessons from the Bath game. When we have pressure on them, we have to take our chances and we can't give away anything soft that would allow the crowd get into the game.

"There are challenges all over the place, but it's as much about us controlling ourselves as anything else."

Irish Independent

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