herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Temp Head

NO FIR' FOR JOE!RABO DIRECT PRO 12 LEAGUE

Glasgow Warriors v Leinster, Firhill, Tomorrow 6.0

The regular season champions-elect will be asked all the serious questions at set-piece and in broken play by a Glasgow outfit which never plays out of fear. The facts are straight forward. Glasgow have lost one in their last eleven in the PRO12 League, winning seven of their last eight at Firhill in Europe and the PRO12.

Leinster have bettered that by constructing twelve consecutive wins in both competitions. They have not been beaten anywhere for 18 matches.

Coach Joe Schmidt will rotate his squad to take fullest advantage of the perceived weaknesses in an opponent. The strong overseas influence of Heinke van der Merwe, Richardt Strauss, soon to be Irish qualified, and Isa Nacewa have been the difference.

With every passing month, however, there is solid evidence of the Leinster Academy playing a growing part in producing first-team regulars.

Fly-half Ian Madigan is developing like a speeding train. He just has to learn how to control a game. His first instinct is always to run. This won't do every time. It remains questionable whether he can bring his kicking game up to the standard necessary.

Lock Devin Toner is definitely making thise giant strides work for him. Back rower Rhys Ruddock is starting to use his feet to beat defenders and loose-head Jack McGrath is another on an upward curve.

The three-quarter line is full of fire and fizz. What it lacks in size is made up for by intent and Leinster's high-tempo movement which is based on mastering the basics and physical dexterity.

Interestingly, Glasgow are one of just two clubs to have beaten Leinster in competitive fare this season. The other is The Ospreys. The problem is these both came back in the first month before the European champions started to roll.The Warriors have never completed the double over Leinster. This is a box that needs to be ticked by Sean Lineen's men. They might just come up an inch or two short of their target.

Verdict: Leinster

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