Saturday 21 January 2017

Kearney returns as Leinster eye top spot

Published 18/03/2016 | 02:30

Dave Kearney (SPORTSFILE)
Dave Kearney (SPORTSFILE)

Vern Cotter is of course due huge credit for Scotland's resurgent form but the work that Gregor Townsend has done with Glasgow in recent years has ensured that Scottish rugby is on the rise.

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With a place at the top of the table on offer for Leinster, they will know that should they leapfrog Connacht ahead of next week's mouthwatering clash in Galway, it will be a significant psychological boost.

This evening's fixture was originally scheduled for December but bad weather meant that it had to be played during the Six Nations period, which is far from ideal for both sides.

Leo Cullen, however, knows the threat that Glasgow carry, even without their international players.

The Leinster coach has made eight changes from the side who beat Cardiff and their strength in depth is again illustrated as Dave Kearney makes a welcome return following the shoulder injury that he suffered against France.

Academy out-half Joey Carbery is in line to make his debut from the bench.

Leone Nakarawa starts in the second-row for Glasgow, who also include Rory Clegg, who re-joined the club following a five month spell with French Top 14 side Oyonnax.

"They're a team who play with a lot of width. They have a very strong off-loading game as well," Cullen said of Glasgow.

"They've a lot of threats across the board. They're well-coached, they're very comfortable in holding onto the ball for long periods. In defence, they're pretty aggressive at the breakdown.

"They play on the edge. We came in for a bit of criticism of our discipline for having seven yellow cards; I think they are on 13 so they do push the boundaries.

"The brand they play is good to watch. It's high tempo. They've got some big, strong ball carriers. Glasgow are a team that the dry ground will suit.

"Over the course of last season they were definitely the standout team in the league."

Scottish rugby may be riding on a crest of a wave at the moment but a Leinster victory this evening could well get a good weekend for Ireland off to an ideal start.

Verdict: Leinster

Glasgow Warriors - P Murchie (capt); L Jones, M Bennett, S Johnson, R Hughes; R Clegg, G Hart; G Reid, F Brown, S Puafisi; G Peterson, L Nakarawa; J Eddie, S Favaro, A Ashe. Reps: J Malcolm, J Yanuyanutawa, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, T Holmes, A Price, N Grigg, G Bryce.

Leinster - Z Kirchner; I Nacewa (capt), G Ringrose, B Te'o, D Kearney; C Marsh, L McGrath; P Dooley, J Tracy, T Furlong; M Kearney, H Triggs; D Ryan, D Leavy, J Murphy. Reps: B Byrne, J Loughman, M Bent, R Molony, P Timmins, I Boss, J Carbery, N Reid.

REF - G Clancy (IRFU)

Glasgow Warriors v Leinster, Live, Sky Sports, 7.35pm

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