All conquering Leinster have 18 wins from 18 games in all competitions this season, a 15-point lead at the top of the Guinness PRO14 Conference A and are 22 points ahead of tonight’s visiting Glasgow Warriors, so what hope for Dave Rennie’s side?
Well, Glasgow were the last team to beat the Irish capital province at the RDS, in April last year in one of the games of the PRO14 season. They later met in last year’s final where Leinster edged it 18-15, and the loss in November at Scotstoun was a huge blow to the Warriors’ play-off hopes.
“Both sides were without a number of players – a pretty similar situation to now,” said Rennie of that game. “We played pretty well for a big chunk of that game, but you’ve got to be clinical against Leinster.
“We scored a couple of tries early, we left a couple out there, they scored twice within a couple of minutes, and then strangled us out of the game in the second half, as they can do.
“I think we’re playing a lot better footy now – and we’re going to have to play well. They’re 18 out of 18: which is phenomenal, isn’t it? The quality in depth that they have is unreal.
“They’ve got a few back from the national team as well. But we know we are one side that can go over there and put them under pressure.”
Glasgow have a handul of returnees from Scotland camp, including Matt Fagerson and George Horne, but Leone Nakarawa damaged a medial lateral ligament in last week’s win over Dragons, and could be gone for up to six weeks.
Having won three in a row – all with bonus points – to leap up the conference table into a play-off spot, Glasgow now have to hold it through a run of seriously tough fixtures, starting this week, followed by a resurgent Ospreys, and then pivotal home and away games against Ulster.
“It’s very similar to last year when we had a really tough finish to the year – and we fronted up really well for that. The good thing is we’re playing teams that are ahead of us on the log – we’ve got to play Ulster twice, so it’s a chance to haul them in.
“We obviously play Leinster this week, we’ve got to play Cheetahs again. Ospreys seem to have turned the corner, haven’t they?
“Yeah, look, it’s a tough run home, but it’s a benefit, because if we can get it right, we’re heading into the play-offs with confidence and playing well against good sides.”
Rennie finds the returning players from the national squad ready and prepared to clue up on what’s required of them the second they come back into the Warriors camp.
“Our guys are excellent, always enthusiastic when they come back in and desperate to play,” he added. “Huw (Jones) got hold of me immediately when he knew he wasn’t going to be with Scotland last week and said he wanted to play. Dropping out of the national squad is not terminal and I keep telling them that.
“Those Scotland boys often come in halfway through a week and have missed out a bit on our detail but they are straight on their computers and make sure on the Thursday they are up with what they’re doing. So the expectation is they’ll come in and front for us.”
Glasgow team: Glenn Bryce; Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Nick Grigg, Kyle Steyn; Peter Horne, George Horne; Aki Seiuli, George Turner, D’Arcy Rae; Rob Harley, Tim Swinson; Ryan Wilson, Tom Gordon, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: Mesu Dolokoto, Alex Allan, Ewan McQuillan, Andrew Davidson, Callum Gibbins, Jamie Dobie, Ruaridh Jackson, Niko Matawalu.