Thursday 25 May 2017

The only team that can stop Leinster winning Pro12 are Leinster themselves

Ross Molony is not afraid to put his shoulder to the wheel and do the hard yards (SPORTSFILE)
Ross Molony is not afraid to put his shoulder to the wheel and do the hard yards (SPORTSFILE)

Victor Costello

The continued ebb and flow of Irish rugby this season is a battle for the strong willed. Sport produces highs and lows like no other discipline and this season has not disappointed.

There will be a sense of elation after last weekend's victory against the Italians and the performance that went with it. With one game to go in the Six Nations, Ireland have had relative reprieve from a disappointing season and the home game against Scotland is an ideal opportunity to finish strongly.

Leinster's trip to Scotstoun tonight is a business as usual affair that will test the resolve of being away from home on international weekend but if the performance is good, it will finish off a block of games that have set up them for a perfect finish in the Pro12.

Glasgow too have been drained of players due to international duty and their current form is a long way off last season's highs.

Both sides have suffered over the years with the player drain at international time but Leinster's history in this area would stretch longer.

Glasgow away never raised an eyebrow compared to most away games but springtime in Scotstoun is a lot better than playing there in deep dark winter.

Leinster's inconsistency this season has caused frustrations within and on the outside and to their dues, they have pulled it back when performances are needed most.

However the only positive to take from this is the difficulty for opposition teams to analyse Leinster. No two performances have been the same and Leinster have altered their priorities in games throughout the season.

Cardiff away was a dogged forwards battle. Ospreys at home showed some great back lines of running while over the past six months, Leinster's defensive structure has become part of their recent reputation.

You then look at the selection process and Leinster have the ability to pick from an array of performing individuals in sub units even when the international players are not available.

Unknown players are now becoming known and in the true tradition of an effective academy, the known players are getting pushed by the unknown and the cycle continues.

Glasgow will have to sit down and look at areas of the pitch where they can find gaps to expose Leinster. Looking at past videos there are plenty of holes but more recently, Leinster have tidied themselves up and have had less exposure in critical areas.

The scrum and lineout are effective weapons due to the work rate of Ross Molony and Mick Kearney.

Any part of the available back-row will do, with the likes of Dominic Ryan producing stability and leadership, with the glue being the scrum-halves, all of whom are on form and creating competition.

The backline has an abundance of old school characteristics - power and pace, and the departing Ben Te'o is very useful with both.

Glasgow have not coped as well particularly in away games this season. The lag from the victory last year will be a benefit to Leinster who have the finish line in sight.

Effective

Once again selection and effective use of the match-day 23 will define the result and the rest of this season.

It has come to pass that the only team to stop Leinster winning this Pro12 and igniting confidence back in to next season are Leinster themselves. Therefore the mental game is hugely important now and for the rest of the season.

A lot has been spoken about the depth of the squad over the past season and in general it is the last quarter of a season that it really gets tested.

Leinster's survival this year has one more hurdle to jump and while it is on the eve of the biggest international rugby day of the year, they are almost ready to step back out of the shadows.

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