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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 13 April 2021
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RaboDirect Pro12 semi-final preview: Leinster v Glasgow

No O’Driscoll or Kearney for the Irish province but they will be confident of securing their second final fixture of the season.

Leinster's Leo Cullen and Glasgow's Alaister Kellock.
Leinster's Leo Cullen and Glasgow's Alaister Kellock.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

LEINSTER WENT ON a 20-match winning streak in domestic and European rugby from September of last year until March of this.

Ospreys, who faced Munster in last night’s semi-final, were the team that ended the Blues’ winning run but it was Glasgow, on 17 September, that inflicted the province’s first loss of an impressive season.

While the eyes of most rugby supporters were following the fortunes of Brian O’Driscoll and Rob Kearney in the World Cup, the Warriors came to the RDS and emerged as 23-19 victors.

Revenge came at the double for Leinster as they toppled Glasgow twice in this year’s Heineken Cup.

However, Sean Lineen’s side are well placed to prevent Joe Schmidt’s men from marching closer to another double.

Juggling

It is the winner’s perogative to bemoan the fatigue that comes with success and Schmidt, one week ahead of Leinster’s Twickenham date with Ulster, was no different. He said:

I think fighting on two fronts makes it harder, to be honest. Whenever you’re trying to catch two balls at the same time you can get distracted by one target or the other.

“That does make it a little bit tougher, particularly if you’ve got a few niggles and a few injuries,” Schmidt added. “I think we’re in pretty good health, though.”

Kevin McLaughlin was the focus of glowing write-ups in the press this week but the flanker must be satisfied with his role as a replacement on Saturday evening.

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“We are aware that Glasgow have quality players littered throughout the side,” he commented. “We work well off fast ball and they are quite good at slowing the play down.”

City fan Gray

Lineen is set to leave at the end of the current campaign but the Warriors’ biggest departure will be their talisman from the second row, Richie Gray.

The lock, who professes himself to be a massive Manchester City fan, will join Sale next year but wants to deliver a league win to Glasgow fans. He said:

We go to the RDS as underdogs but we will throw everything we’ve got at Leinster. We have nothing to lose.

The return of stealthy Canadian winger DTH van der Merwe is a genuine area of concern for Leinster, especially with Dave Kearney and Fergus McFadden are patrolling the flanks.

The other area to study closely, with Leinster line-out proving shaky at times in Europe, is the throwing of Richardt Strauss and the airborne duel between Gray and Devin Toner.

Schmidt has left O’Driscoll and Kearney out of his semi-final squad and will be hoping that the decision pays off.

The younger Kearney, Dave, is a solid operator and he could well play himself onto the Irish squad to travel to New Zealand next month.

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