herald

Monday 21 January 2019

Blues aim to forget horror show by slaying Dragons

Leinster v The Dragons The RDS, TONIGHT 7.35 (live rte2)

The hairdryer, kitchen sink or whatever was close at hand was surely used by coach Joe Schmidt to remind the 'left behinds' of Leinster that a certain responsibility comes with pulling on the club jersey.

The disconnection and disorganisation at the Liberty Stadium was akin to 'amateur' fare. The Ospreys partied through the holes and the Leinster defence stood off the physical combat. That is always a recipe for disaster.

Luckily, Schmidt has been able to circle the wagons and hammer home the importance of a good start to any mission. The home support should give energy to the new and young players.

Last season, Leinster did the double over the Dragons. More significantly, the Welsh franchise has never won in eight attempts in Dublin. That can be a source of comfort or shaky ground from which to guard against complacency.

It is seven seasons since Leinster started with defeats in their first two League matches. It is also a fact that the Dragons have won just once in Ireland since October 2004.

LEINSTER (v The Dragons): I Nacewa; F Carr, B Macken, E O'Malley, D Kearney; I Madigan, C Willis; H van der Merwe, R Strauss, J Hagan, D Browne, D Toner, K McLaughlin, D Ryan, R Ruddock (capt).

Verdict: Leinster

Glasgow Warriors v Munster, Firhill Stadium, TONIGHT 7.30

Munster will be well motivated to break Leinster's League record of 11 straight wins by securing their 12th at a ground where they are used to winning.

In fact, the Warriors have to look all the way back to September 2009 for their last sunshine day against the defending champions. This is their sixth turn since then at trying to replicate that result.

Verdict: Munster

Connacht v The Scarlets

The Sportsground, TOMORROW 3.15

(LIVE TG4)

There is a definite trend between these two clubs that would suit Connacht very nicely, thank you, on this particular occasion. That is the home side has won the last four of these match-ups.

Coach Eric Elwood will impress the fact that Connacht have built something of a 'fortress' attitude with six home wins from their last seven. They are on a roll. This is the hour for the underdogs to shed their tag.

Verdict: Connacht

Aironi v Ulster

Stadio Zafanella, Saturday 3.0

Ulster have never been beaten by an Italian club in 10 matches; having come out smiling from nine of their last 10 matches in this League. It would be a shock to the system to see them suffer on this road.

Verdict: Ulster

-- des berry

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