herald

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Onus on Sexton to pull strings

IT would be an understatement to suggest Glasgow has not been a happy hunting ground for Leinster. The same was once said of Edinburgh.

While the Heineken Cup champions have never been able to shake the treacherous nature of their journeys to Scotland, this is a chance to set the record straight.

This is Europe. The intensity will rise as surely as an elevator. The focus will have to be spot-on. Take care of the fundamentals of the game and Leinster should take care of Glasgow. Oh, if only it was as simple as that. Glasgow have made improvements from last season.

They are still in touch in the Pool, however tenuous it may be at six points in Leinster's rear view mirror and lodged fourth in the PRO12.

Above all else, Glasgow will have a record crowd and a beautifully balanced second row with the work rate of Ali Kellock and the majestic athleticism of Richie Gray.

Blunt this axis and Leinster will be in business.

The basis for putting a stop to this twin threat is to squeeze them at the lineout and, in general play, to clamp down on Gray in the loose. The mobility is there to react to anything Gray will bring in the loose.

Leinster are moving closer to the Toulouse model of confidence where they tend to be more concerned about what they are going to do rather than what the enemy will bring.

The pack is brimming with ball carriers in the front and back rows to activate their high-tempo, even on a soccer pitch which is shorter and narrower than they would like.

More than anything, Leinster fly-half Jonathan Sexton will have to dictate the pace of the attack and control the territory and have the wisdom to know when to employ which one.



Impact

The backs will stand ready to deliver in tight spaces with everyone well aware of how a definitive individual impact might just catch the eye of Ireland coach Declan Kidney ahead of the start of the Six Nations.

Glasgow Warriors v Leinster, Firhill, Sunday (KO 12.45) Sky Sports 2

Verdict: Leinster

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