Glasgow Warriors will look to pick up where they left off in their last RaboDirect PRO12 meeting with Leinster when the Irish side come to Firhill tomorrow for a crunch top four clash.
The Dubliners have racked up a terrific recent record, winning 17 and drawing one of their last 18 games since the Warriors inflicted a 23-19 reverse at the RDS last September.
That was the first loss Leinster had suffered at home in almost two calendar years, and they claimed revenge by winning the subsequent two Heineken Cup meetings between the teams, most recently at Firhill in January.
Following a frustrating draw away to Connacht last Saturday, Sean Lineen’s men know it’s vital they get back to winning ways this weekend, when they will look to land an eighth victory in nine home encounters in all competitions.
Glasgow have never before done the double over Leinster in a single season, and are under no illusions as to the calibre of performance that will be required to interrupt this trend tomorrow.
Lineen told www.glasgowwarriors.org: “The business end of the RaboDirect PRO12 season is well and truly here now, and such is the tight nature of the table, there isn’t much margin for error.
“Three of our next four games are at home, and it’s vital we exploit that to our advantage, starting with Saturday’s match against Leinster.
“They’ve got a big squad with top players right throughout it. Their rugby is the definition of relentless and they punish every mistake.
“We know our individual decision-making has to be spot on, and our composure right up there with anything we’ve produced so far this season.
“If that happens, we should be in a good place, because our collective systems have been a real strength all year and there’s a terrific amount of trust and belief within the group.
“The players have risen to the challenge so many times already, and tomorrow is another day for standing up and being counted so that we continue to stake a strong claim for a place in the top four.”
The Warriors starting line-up for the game shows four changes to that which ran out in Galway six days ago.
One of the switches is enforced, Alex Dunbar taking the place of Graeme Morrison, who starts for Scotland in Sunday’s RBS 6 Nations Championship game against France at Murrayfield.
Dunbar will play at 13, with Troy Nathan moving to inside centre. Elsewhere in the back division, Colin Shaw comes onto the wing in place of Tommy Seymour, who will be among the replacements.
There are a further two changes in the front five, where tight-head prop Mike Cusack makes a first appearance since injuring an ankle in the New Year’s Day victory over Edinburgh Rugby, and Nick Campbell comes in at lock in place of Rob Verbakel.
The 22-year-old Scottish Rugby Elite Development player scored a try in the RDS triumph five months ago and recovered from a recent knee injury to take a place on the bench for the win over Scarlets at Firhill on February 9.
With Al Kellock and Morrison both on national team service, the team will be captained by Rob Harley (pictured), who skippered them to success in that previous RaboDirect PRO12 fixture against Leinster.
Lineen said: “It’s great to have Mike Cusack back in the fold. He’s been a terrific asset for us in the scrum this season, and he’s chomping at the bit to get back on the park and remind everyone of his ability.
“We’ve freshened things up in the second row with Nick getting a start. He proved at the beginning of the season that he can more than hold his own at this level, and Saturday is a great opportunity for him.
“That goes for the team as a whole – we’ve worked hard to give ourselves a shot at the play-offs, and now is the time to capitalise on the groundwork and keep ourselves in contention.”
Tickets for Saturday’s vital game are available via www.glasgowwarriors.org, by calling 0844 800 3490 or in person at the Gordon Street and Sauchiehall Street branches of Greaves Sports, our official retail partner.
Buy online or over the phone by 1pm on Saturday to save £5 on the match-night adult price of £20. Students/senior citizens £10, under-18s £5.
As a thank you for their valued support, Warriors season ticket holders can bring an under-18 to the game for free. Season ticket holders should have their guest present Voucher B (found in the season ticket book) at the turnstiles to gain admission.
The supporters bar in the main stand (accessed from Firhill Road) will be open from 3.30pm to allow supporters to watch the England v Wales RBS 6 Nations match ahead of the Leinster clash.
GLASGOW WARRIORS TEAM TO PLAY LEINSTER IN THE RABODIRECT PRO12 AT FIRHILL ON SATURDAY 25 FEBRUARY (KICK-OFF 6pm)
15 Peter Murchie
14 David Lemi
13 Alex Dunbar
12 Troy Nathan
11 Colin Shaw
10 Ruaridh Jackson
9 Henry Pyrgos
1 Ryan Grant
2 Pat MacArthur
3 Mike Cusack
4 Nick Campbell
5 Tom Ryder
6 Rob Harley (captain)
7 Chris Fusaro
8 Ryan Wilson
16 Dougie Hall
17 Jon Welsh
18 Gordon Reid
19 Rob Verbakel
20 Calum Forrester
21 Scott Wight
22 Federico Aramburu
23 Tommy Seymour
Not considered for selection due to injury: Rob Dewey (shoulder), Moray Low (knee), DTH van der Merwe (shoulder).