herald

Thursday 16 August 2018

Joe's juniors set to sink the Warriors

Leinster v Glasgow Warriors The RDS, tomorrow 6.0

You have to hand it to Joe Schmidt. He was scathing of Leinster's debacle at the Ospreys on day one; limited in his praise of the backlash against The Dragons on day two of the PRO12 League.

This is smart coaching. He lashed his players when they embarrassed the jersey and kept them in check when they played to the standards set.

The message is clear: excellence is expected. The young players have to realise that they cannot hide behind the curtain of inexperience.

This is an unforgiving environment in which there is limited time to impress before the return of the elite.

Leinster have won their previous 28 matches at home in all competitions and Glasgow have not won in 13 attempts in Dublin. These point to one obvious outcome.

Glasgow have lost their first two matches of the season away to Ulster and at home to Munster. Leinster should ensure they are sick of the sight of the Irish provinces tomorrow.

Verdict: Leinster

Ulster v Cardiff Blues Ravenhill, tonight 7.05 (BBC2)

New Zealander Jared Payne will make his debuts for the Northerners as they look for their third straight win against the leaders Cardiff, the only club to round-up two bonus-point wins, in what is undoubtedly the eye-catching tie of the round.

Ulster have won all eight of their home matches in this calendar year and completed a double over the Blues last season. However, the Welsh club has won three out of their last four in Belfast.

Verdict: Ulster

Ulster: J Payne; C Gilroy, D Cave, N Spence, I Whitten; I Humphreys, P Marshall; D Fitzpatrick, A Kyriacou, J Cronin, L Stevenson, D Tuohy, P Wannenburg, C Henry (capt), R Diack.

Cardiff: C Czekaj; A Cuthbert, C Laulala, G Evans, T James; C Sweeney, L Jones; S Hobbs, R Thomas, S Andrews, M Paterson, P Tito (capt), M Molitika, M Williams, X Rush.

Edinburgh v Connacht Murrayfield, tonight 7.30

Michael Swift will earn his 200th cap for Connacht at a time when the pulse of the game has never beat faster out West.

They will venture to Scotland to make it three out of three for the first time since the 2006-2007 season. That won't come easy.

The last five clashes between these two clubs have all been won by the home side and Connacht have to look all the way back to their maiden voyage to Murrayfield for their last win there.

Verdict: Connacht

Edinburgh: T Brown; L Jones, J Thompson, J King, T Visser; G Laidlaw (capt), C Leck; K Traynor, S Lawrie, J Gilding, G Gilchrist, S Turnbull, S Cox, R Grant, D Denton.

Connacht: G Duffy; M McCrea, E Griffin, H Fa'afili, T O'Halloran; M Jarvis, F Murphy; R Loughney, E Reynecke, R Ah You, M Swift, M McCarthy, J Muldoon, J O'Connor, G Naoupu.

Munster v The Scarlets

Musgrave Park, tomorrow 7.45 (tg4)

The bandwagon just keeps on rolling along. The champions have eked out home and away wins over the Dragons and the Warriors to stand proud as one of five unbeaten clubs.

Munster have won their last 11 encounters with Scarlets since the Welshmen knocked them out of the European Cup at the quarter-final stage in March 2007.

There is no reason to suggest this trend will discontinue.

Verdict: Munster

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