Friday 9 December 2016

It'll be alright on the night for Leinster team lacking rehearsals

Jim Glennon doesn't believe Leinster's lengthy lay-off will be an issue for them next weekend

Published 10/01/2010 | 05:00

With Friday night's encounter against Glasgow failing to beat the weather, Leinster will welcome Brive to the RDS in the Heineken Cup next Saturday evening having not had a game since the win at home to Ulster on St Stephen's Day. This is certainly not ideal preparation.

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Brive come into the game on the back of a few up-and-down performances -- a hammering away to Clermont at the end of December, followed by a comprehensive win at home to Perpignan last weekend. Looking at it closely though, it would seem to be the old story of French teams displaying poor form on the road, and I'd expect more of the same at the RDS next weekend, weather permitting of course.

While the cancellation of two games in succession is an obvious headache for Michael Cheika and the management team, not to mention highly frustrating for the players, I can't help but think back to the run-in to the back-to-back games with Llanelli in rounds three and four of the pool.

Then, the Leinster team that would face the Scarlets in what was expected to be a tough encounter, had virtually no game time together, but came and ripped the home team to shreds in the opening 40 minutes.

Admittedly, the circumstances are somewhat different in this instance. In the Llanelli situation the players were coming off the back of a tough international series with Ireland, whereas this time it has been a relatively lengthy period of preparation with no real action.

However, the players will be very fresh, with a near full bill of health in the squad. That this would have been the case had the Connacht and Glasgow games -- two potentially attritional matches on hard surfaces -- gone ahead is quite unlikely.

When this is considered along with the fact that Brive have absolutely nothing to play for in this tournament and would probably be much more concerned with making a push out of the bottom half of the Top 14 table, I can't see Leinster's lack of match preparation being of much real consequence when it comes down to it.

For Leinster, particularly after two comprehensive losses for Brive against London Irish, this game should represent nothing more than a necessary hurdle to be overcome before London Irish in Twickenham the following week.

After Leinster's experiences with Llanelli in the past two rounds, it would be surprising if London Irish were to come away from their visit to Parc y Scarlet with anything less than five points, which would set up an almighty fight in the final round. While London Irish left the RDS in October with an opening-round victory, I don't see Leinster being beaten again, particularly now that the game has been moved away from the Madejski Stadium, Irish's home patch.

It will be a titanic contest, but the bottom line is I can't see Leinster not emerging from this pool.

jimglennon@o2.ie

Sunday Independent

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