Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


PRO14 Final teams: Glasgow v Leinster

Saturday May 25, 2019
KO 18:30 (UK) 
Celtic Park, Glasgow

It’s been a long season, but when you get here, it seems like only yesterday that we set out. After hammering Ulster at Scotstoun last weekend, Glasgow move not far down the road to welcome champions Leinster to Celtic Park. Both sides are into Europe next year and at season’s end – the only thing left to chase is the trophy, and glory.

The visitors have restored Johnny Sexton to the starting XV to lead a classy looking back line, while in the pack Scott Fardy comes in to replace the injured Devin Toner.

Dave Rennie has named an unchanged Warriors team; in fact the only change to the match day squad is Siua Halanukonuka coming on to the bench for D’arcy Rae.

It’s a show of faith indeed, and also perhaps still lays them open to worries about second row cover with no direct replacement on the bench, even if Leinster are without Devin Toner themselves. Thomas Gordon starts just his fifth PRO14 match while Kyle Steyn is still keeping Huw Jones on the woodwork.

Still, you’ve got to think if Glasgow are going to do it in front of a 40,000+ home crowd, then this is the side to do so based on last weekend’s performance. There are few players who you could argue should be included ahead of these men – Niko Matawalu is one of the few notable absences from the 23 but may be soothed slightly by a recall to the Fijian World Cup training squad.

Their form in recent weeks has been irresistible even if Leinster in knockout mode will be a far harder challenge than any they have faced in the PRO14 this season.

Arguments such as the ones from Matt Williams in the Irish Times will hopefully be proven moot given the considerable change in mindset, even in the short weeks since the Saracens drubbing that kicked them out of the Champions Cup.

The plan has become a furious focus on better execution allied to a desire to repeat again, straight away. Glasgow are looking to become not only ferociously talented, but relentless with it. The leap forward in Jonny Gray’s game has been long overdue, as has the welcome return of the Tommy Seymour and Ali Price that we know and love.

There are numerous fascinating matchups throughout the team – Sexton vs Hastings, Henshaw vs Johnson, Healy vs Fagerson, and so on.

It is also Stuart Hogg’s last game for Glasgow as well as perhaps a mini warm-up for that match on September 22nd when a number of these players will meet again.

There are plenty of mini stories, but for the Glasgow players and the Warrior Nation, the plan is simple.

We go again.

Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Kyle Steyn, Sam Johnson, DTH Van Der Merwe, Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Jamie Bhatti, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray, Rob Harley, Callum Gibbins (capt), Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: Grant Stewart, Oli Kebble, Siua Halanukonuka, Ryan Wilson, Tom Gordon, George Horne, Pete Horne, Huw Jones.

Unavailable players: Bruce Flockhart (shoulder), Chris Fusaro (hamstring), Matt Smith (shoulder), Tim Swinson (ankle) and George Turner (head)

Leinster: Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe, Johnny Sexton (capt), Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Seán Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Scott Fardy, James Ryan, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.
Replacements: Bryan Byrne, Ed Byrne, Andrew Porter, Ross Molony, Max Deegan, Nick McCarthy, Ross Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin.

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU, 180th Championship game)
Assistant Referee 1Mike Adamson (SRU)
Assistant Referee 2: Johnny Lacey (IRFU)
Television Match Official: Ian Davies (WRU)

39 Responses

  1. 2 backrowers & 2 Centres on bench.. interesting.

    The worst possible outcome for this match would be Hastings getting Injured early on.

    Glasgow to win by 15.

    1. Harley will be covering 2nd row, Steyn (or Price…) wing and probably Seymour fullback (or Hastings but would rather keep him at 10).

      I agree Hastings getting injured wouldn’t be ideal – Pete Horne seems to cover 10 better for Glasgow than Scotland though.

      As long as Glasgow don’t tighten up I think they should win reasonably comfortably, but if things don’t go well early on we will find out if they can keep their heads up and keep playing their style of rugby or if they start playing 10 man rugby.

      Can’t wait – not been this excited (or optimistic) about a club game for a long time.

  2. No surprises in either team, should be a right ding dong affair. I’m pretty confident of Glasgow winning a tight and tense affair by 6. The Leinster player that most worries/impresses me is James Lowe, devastating finisher if he is given a millimetre of space.

    I’m just kicking myself for poor planning as I’ll be listening on the radio whilst driving through very patchy areas of reception!

  3. Test match standard.

    Glasgow’s home advantage absolutely key, Hastings has really stepped up to the mark & with (Scotland starters??) Johnson & Steyn at his shoulder, 2 top class wingers & the best ever Scottish back @ 15, should be enough. Is the Celtic Park pitch much bigger than Scotstoun’s?

    1. I hope Hastings starts getting regular game time for Scotland at 10 after this, he is arguably better than Russell in terms of his all round game.

      1. I don’t know if I would go that far Neil. It wasn’t long ago people were saying he wasn’t international standard and shouldn’t be near the Scotland squad!

        Don’t get me wrong – I really rate him and his potential is huge, but he needs to show he can make the difference in a game where the team is under pressure. He thrives when Glasgow are on the front foot, but his composure still needs to develop I think. Much the same as Russell a couple of years ago.

      2. Hastings/Russell at 10/12 may be more than an experiment in the future…

        I would like to see Hastings/Russell each start 1 game against France and Georgia in the warm-ups and its great we have a good player to start for the B games in the World Cup.

      3. Fraser, would you really leave out the likes of Johnson to play Russell out of position, though?

      4. We need at least 2 quality 10’s . Why would we dilute the pool by playing out of position., Lets stick to the knitting.

      5. No, we have very talented centres at the moment.

        Im just saying it’s not outside the realms of possibility in a few years time – also in terms of who we have on the bench and covering as many positions as possible with quality players.

        Hastings on the bench as cover for 10 and Russell moving to 12 if Hastings continues to develop isn’t unreasonable.

        Also, plenty of other teams play with what is essentially 2 10’s and I think that could suit Scotland’s style of play very well.

    2. Hastings has come on – absolutely as expected, go back and look at old posts about U20 WC and first few games for Glasgow, always clear that he had the running game, boot and most importantly temperament. To think he could be languishing at Bath. But this World Cup is Russell’s – his all round performances for Racing, the PSG of rugby, the Barbarians and Scotland have been masterly in the past year. I think one of the things that was noticeable on this weeks’s Pod was how dour we sometimes are about our best players. See Stuart Hogg. Russell has arrived at the absolute pinnacle of the sport and you want him to be side stepped by Hastings?! Frankly I’d make Russell, if not McInally, as captain as he’s the first name on the sheet. Hastings time will come, by age or injury.

      1. Here here NRS. Russell is a World class 10, probably the most exciting out there when on song. I can’t see anyone with better natural talent and skill set. The game management/ decision making (and selecting the correct words in post-match interviews…) is the work on, but rapidly maturing and by no means weak.
        I’m delighted with Hastings progress, and to have another skillful attacking 10, but he has a long way to go to match what Finn has achieved and where he’s at.
        I personally wouldn’t make Russell captain, as I think it takes more than being the first name on the sheet to be a good leader. But if fit he is certainly first choice in his position.
        I also agree about the dour thing. When the “next great hope” is actually in the process of realising that, the threshold of disdain, malcontentedness and looking for the next next great hope seems to alter markedly. Possibly the only player showing immunity to that malady in the current squad is Hamish. But then it would take the most dreary of misanthropes to not appreciate the wonder of Pinball.

  4. Its been a real pleasure watching Glasgow this year. Hope they can keep the head when the pressure is on and express themselves as they can. Already hearing reports of Hoggy having to be calmed down in training this week! Just want them to turn up and give everything they’ve got, hope the rugby gods are with them and then whatever will be will be.

  5. Really hoping for a Warriors win tomorrow and I wish them good luck in front of what will be a massive crowd for a club match in Scotland.
    References to a warm-up for 22 September are mildly interesting but not really relevant at this point. It’s just club v club for now. And I hope the Warriors are the club that wins it.

    1. Matt Williams article is bizarre – full of hyperbole and very little content. Not really analysis, just rambling about nothing.

      The one point he does make (repeatedly…) is entirely accurate though – the way to beat Glasgow (and Scotland) is aggressive defence. Put them on the back foot, pressurise them and don’t give them any time and it is very difficult for them to execute their game plan.

      Glasgow need to do the hard work up front and put themselves on the front foot to win this game.

  6. As I said last week Ali Price is the key man.

    I expect a big game from Zander Fagerson as well.

  7. Yes the rain wasn’t what I expected when the weather forecast came on tonight. But if you want to avoid the rain then I think we need to move Celtic Park to a different country as it’s going to be a blanket fall rather than just hit or miss.

    Not going to be the same game that we’d expect with the dry stuff we’ve seen recently but Glasgow can still score tries in the wet and I suspect they will tomorrow.

    Glasgow will be expecting to win tomorrow. They’ll not say it but they’ll be ready and assured tomorrow. They know how to win and are happy making there’s own history which I think they will.

    P.S. Getting so excited about the world cup now. So much to be positive about in Scotland.

    1. Think the rain is a bigger advantage to Leinster than the home turf is for us. Would be surprised to see us win now…

      1. Very much disagree – As Ref said, Glasgow have shown repeatedly that they have the handling skills to still play their style of rugby in the rain, not something a lot of teams can do.

        If anything I think it will make Leinster revert to kicking for territory, and I don’t think they will beat Glasgow without playing attacking rugby.

        We will see….

      2. No matter the level of rugby, rain makes life more difficult for teams playing open/fast rugby. Glasgow play a high risk game and even if they can execute it, the chances of being able to are diminished. We really have to match Leinster in defence and set piece which is going to be difficult.

        Still hoping for a win.

      3. Yes, of course the wet will have an impact.

        However, it shouldn’t change Glasgow’s gameplan too much – unlike most teams that completely abandon running rugby at the first sign of rain because they don’t have the handling skills to still execute it well.

        I agree we have to match them up front – I think lineout will be key as Leinster will kick to touch a lot (and on recent form our lineout should be on top).

        If Glasgow stick to their strengths they should do well fingers crossed.

  8. Might be my natural Scottish pessimism but I get more nervous the more confident everyone gets on this forum… Our successes generally seem to be in inverse proportion to the confidence on this site! I just hope the team are staying grounded as Leinster aren’t going to be an easy opposition to beat and are not going to gift points so Glasgow are going to have to work extremely hard to win. I think they can do it but it’s going to require everyone to be on top form.

    Rock solid defence and harass Sexton out of the game. Get his back up and he’ll start mumping and moaning at the ref and his own team. Don’t kick loosely to Kearney as he’ll return it with interest.

    Good luck Glasgow! I’ll be over from the east to lend my support to the Warrior Nation!

    1. I’ve given up trying not to upset the Mocker Gods!

      Glasgow by 10-15 for me on recent form and with “home” advantage.

      My main concern is Leinster – particularly Sexton – are a big game team with much more experience in finals.

      If Hastings keeps his composure I will be happy and Gibbons ( and the other leaders in the team) need to be a big influence in controlling Glasgow’s mentality whether ahead or behind.


      1. Leinster are not even that good, they lost the european final to saracens, should be a comfortable 15 point win.

      2. Did Leinster not top their conference ? Edinburgh’s conference as well and Edinburgh edged Glasgow in 2 out of 3 matches this season. I think you are underestimating Leinster , I would say this is an even contest , Glasgow finally on form and the hugely experienced Leinster showing signs of fatigue . Personally I think Cullen will just want home after having to justify himself and that is never a good place to be however , Neil, I think you are being a bit naughty suggesting Leinster are ‘not that good’. They are good enough to be in the final of everything this season. Maybe Cammy needs to get his hand on the red button again.

      3. Glasgow doing exactly what they shouldn’t in the first half – we never win games kicking away all our possession, hope they keep ball in hand more in the second half.

        Scrums not holding up either and Brown is a big loss.

  9. Bookies had Leinster 6 point favourite, from some of the comments on here you’d think this was to be a walk in the park for Glasgow. Reality check. Plus, Leinster don’t have Rob Harley.

    1. Some very questionable calls, but Glasgow only themselves to blame really. Not even trying to play rugby until the last 10 minutes. Poor game.

      Kearney lucky not to get a red.

      1. I think Kearney was unlucky to get a yellow. He only had eyes for the ball.

        I think Owens made many mistakes, e.g. when Leinster kicking the ball forward out of a ruck and it being awarded as a knock on or the yellow card for Steyn despite the absence of a penalty for the same offence by Leinster on their own try line or the scrum…

        I think the main takeaway for Glasgow is that the team who came second in the ERCC are literally a referee’s error better than them. On another day, that would have been a Warriors win. I don’t begrudge Leinster their win at all, by the way – it’s not like it was handed to them and they had to fight tooth and nail for it.

        In short, congrats to Leinster and commiserations to us, and I hope we use today as fuel to send Rennie off with a Pro 14 (and ERCC?!) title next season!

        Also, a shout out to Hoggy, who was class personified today. Absolutely loved his performance, both on and off the pitch. I wish him all the best at Chiefs. And to Matt Fagerson, who was my MotM.

  10. The refereeing was abysmal. I don’t understand how Kearney can not get a red if Hoggy has to not return due to a head knock.

    Too many errors from Glasgow too.

    Complete aside, But does anyone else think time should go off at scrums until the ball is put in? At the moment you can basically reset scrums until a yellow card is finished. The pros are fit enough, and it would make the game a longer (But better) spectacle

  11. I’d rather an Irish ref reffed our games against Munster & Leinster than that attention hoor Owen

    1. Owens was poor and has been all season – I think it’s because he can’t keep up anymore – but I don’t think there’s any need to attack his character.

      1. I am drawing attention to the fact he loves the camera on him. Not his Twitter persona.

      2. He made a few errors only one I recall was a howler , penalty should have gone our way, but generally he was trying to keep the game flowing IMO .

      1. Wether it’s wanting to be in the limelight or not you can’t deny that Owens is not the ref he once was. Time for the younger generation to be given some of the big games.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion