Need to Know: Leinster v Glasgow, Pro 12 Match Preview 2016/17

KO 7.35 at the RDS, Saturday 29th April 2017
Live on TG4

This will be the final away match of Gregor Townsend’s 5 season reign as head coach of the Warriors. It’s fitting then that he has spun up the Tombola one last time and that the opposition will be Leinster, who have been one of the benchmarks that the club have tried to measure themselves against in recent years.

The sides have had 9 close encounters during the Pro 12 regular season in the Toony Era with September’s match at Scotstoun featuring the largest winning margin of any of those fixtures – 8 points. Barring 2014/15’s draw at the RDS, every other game has seen the losing side pick up a bonus point.

The aggregate score for these games between the teams is 173-170 in Glasgow’s favour. Even though there is almost nothing on the line in terms of meaningful league placings, bragging rights are still up for grabs along with a chance for some players to build confidence ahead of a busy summer.

15 Zane Kirchner
14 Adam Byrne
13 Rory O’Loughlin
12 Tom Daly
11 Fergus McFadden
10 Ross Byrne
9 Nick McCarthy
15 Tommy Seymour
14 Leonardo Sarto
13 Nick Grigg
12 Sam Johnson
11 Lee Jones
10 Peter Horne
9 Henry Pyrgos (c)

1 Peter Dooley
2 James Tracy
3 Mike Ross
4 Ross Molony
5 Mick Kearney
6 Dominic Ryan
7 Josh van der Flier
8 Jack Conan

1 Alex Allan
2 Fraser Brown
3 Sila Puafisi
4 Brian Alainu’uese
5 Jonny Gray (c)
6 Tim Swinson
7 Chris Fusaro
8 Adam Ashe

16 Richardt Strauss
17 Jack McGrath
18 Michael Bent
19 Ian Nagle
20 Dan Leavy
21 Jamison Gibson-Park
22 Joey Carbery
23 Noel Reid

16 Pat MacArthur
17 Gordon Reid
18 Zander Fagerson
19 Robert Harley
20 Matt Fagerson
21 Ali Price
22 Finn Russell
23 Alex Dunbar

Head to Head:
Back 3 – ADV Glasgow
Half BacksADV Glasgow
Front RowEVEN
Second RowADV Glasgow
Back RowADV Leinster

Matchday Milestones:
One of Glasgow’s Lions – Tommy Seymour – becomes a Warrior Centurion on Friday racking up his 100th appearance for the club. Over the past 2 years 12 players have earned the right to have their picture in Centurion Way. It will almost certainly be Stuart Hogg’s turn next week against Edinburgh and Alex Dunbar (98) and Tim Swinson (95) should join him early next season (and possibly Richie Vernon if he can put his injury woes behind him). After that it will probably be 2018/19 before we see another addition to the ranks with Jonny Gray (72) leading the charge for the next generation.

Alex Allan plays his 50th game for Glasgow, firmly putting all memories of past associations with Edinburgh behind him…

Warriors One to Watch:
It’s nearly 3 years since Finn Russell last played against Leinster – the Pro 12 Grand Final in Dublin back on 31st May 2014. Since then a combination of international duties and injuries have prevented the gallus one from tackling Glasgow’s Irish rivals. With news apparently leaking that Finn will be the first name on Warren Gatland’s speed dial if one of his 10s goes down injured, it’s important for the Warriors’ stand off to shrug of missing out on the initial touring party. Even from the bench, strong form in the last 2 rounds of the league will set him up well for Southern Hemisphere touring duties with Scotland – and possibly the Lions.

Toony’s Track Record…
…against Leinster:

  • Regular season – 4 wins, 1 draw and 4 losses. 1 Try BP, 4 Losing BPs. 23 points in total.
  • Playoffs – no wins and 2 losses.
  • Leinster are the only side in the Pro 12 that Gregor Townsend does not have an away victory against.

Last season’s match-up:

Points lead for Glasgow at half-time. The Warriors have been in front after 40 minutes in 3 of their 4 regular season games at the RDS during Toony’s tenure. Each time Leinster have been able to up the pace and eke out the win. The longer the matches go on the stronger the home side seem to become. Glasgow will need to bring plenty of energy in the second half.

Penalties conceded by Glasgow. Across the board there were few differences in the stats for the 2 teams. Discipline was one area that went decisively to the home side with Leinster only committing just over half the number of offences. The Warriors also conceded a costly penalty try and 2 yellow cards to turn what was a very difficult task into a nigh on impossible one.

Carries by Ryan Wilson – the most among Glasgow players. Ryan has become a crucial factor in the Warriors’ back row, providing the balance whether he’s taking on ball carrying duties at 8, the unseen graft at 6 or an aggressive breakdown presence at 7. In his absence a never before seen trio of Swinson / Fusaro / Ashe will have to find the right blend and division of duties to compete against a Leinster trio that might not be their first choice but has plenty of talent and experience in dominating the breakdown.

Home and Away:
Leinster last 6 in the Pro 12 (H) – W W W W W W
Glasgow last 6 in the Pro 12 (A) – W L W W L L

Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR, 66th tournament game)
Assistant Referees: Rhys Thomas (WRU), Simone Boaretto (IRFU)
TMO: Alan Falzone (FIR)

This will be the first time this season that Glasgow have been refereed by Mr. Mitrea – his last encounter with the club came in the playoff semi-final against Connacht at the end of the 2015/16 season. That was the first game in a while when the Warriors didn’t have anyone sent to the naughty step by the Italian official after he had issued 5 yellow cards in his previous 3 encounters with Glasgow.

As John Muldoon demonstrated in that playoff last year an assertive and imposing (but not aggressive) captain who can communicate a strong and clear narrative can be a real asset when Mr. Mitrea is in charge. Henry Pyrgos and Jonny Gray need to ensure they are getting equal time with the ref and don’t allow Leinster’s leaders (and the crowd) to have an unopposed influence.


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