Glasgow ready to battle elements in Leinster clash

Young Glasgow hooker James Malcolm makes his first start of the season today after impressive cameos against Cardiff and Treviso. Picture: SNS

Young Glasgow hooker James Malcolm makes his first start of the season today after impressive cameos against Cardiff and Treviso. Picture: SNS

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Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend is braced for the weather to play a key role in today’s crunch clash with Leinster but is excited about facing a side he always relishes watching his team test themselves against.

The two clubs have been involved in some memorable tussles over the past few seasons and, while this afternoon may not be one for champagne rugby, Townsend is still expecting a fizzy encounter.

“Anytime you play Leinster is exciting,” he said. “The weather will be a factor. The forecast is wet and windy conditions. It will certainly change the way the teams play.”

Young hooker James Malcolm will make his first start of the season after impressing off the bench against Cardiff and Treviso, while Duncan Weir replaces Finn Russell at stand-off after a couple of below-par performances from the first-choice Scotland No 10. “There’s no resting,” said Townsend. “This is a very important game for us. We have put out what we think is the most competitive team to win this game.”

With Glasgow missing three hookers to injury – Fraser Brown, Kevin Bryce and Pat MacArthur – 21-year-old academy player Malcolm gets the nod ahead of recent Georgian signing Shalva Mamukashvili.

Townsend said: “James came on and did very well last week. This is a great opportunity for him to start and put the work he has been doing since pre-season into a complete performance.”

Tommy Seymour returns in place of Sean Lamont on the left wing, while Alex Dunbar moves to outside centre and partners Peter Horne, with Mark Bennett not involved this weekend.

Mike Blair replaces Grayson Hart at scrum-half, while in the pack, Ryan Grant starts in place of Gordon Reid at loosehead, with Malcolm replacing Mamukashvili and Sila Puafisi returning in place of Mike Cusack.

Lock Leone Nakarawa will make his 50th Warriors appearance, while in the back-row, Josh Strauss replaces Rob Harley at blindside and Simone Favaro is in for Chris Fusaro at openside.

Following the European loss to Northampton and a narrow home win over Treviso last week, Townsend insisted he was satisfied with his side’s form.

“Our last three Pro12 games we’ve won and taken 14 out of 15 points so that’s pretty good,” he said. “We know we have not played as fluently as we’d like, partly last week due to the weather, the tactics of Treviso and our own performance. Northampton was a disappointment but before that I thought the Ospreys win was one of our best in the last few years.”

Leinster, who followed up back-to-back losses in Europe with a win over Ulster last week, have not included Lions stand-off Jonny Sexton, but have an able replacement in Ian Madigan and field a strong side.

Townsend, meanwhile, welcomed the contract extension of Edinburgh counterpart Alan Solomons, while remaining tight-lipped about his own contract which is up at the end of the season.“It’s great news,” said Townsend. “Edinburgh are building all the time. I think adding Duncan Hodge to the ticket [as attack coach] has strengthened them and they are showing by their performances that they are competitive and are a real threat to our chances of getting in the top four. It’s good Alan is committed for another year.”

Glasgow

15. Stuart Hogg

14. Taqele Naiyaravoro

13. Alex Dunbar

12. Peter Horne

11. Tommy Seymour

10. Duncan Weir

9. Mike Blair

1. Ryan Grant

2. James Malcolm

3. Sila Puafisi

4. Leone Nakarawa

5. Jonny Gray (c)

6. Josh Strauss

7. Simone Favaro

8. Adam Ashe

Subs

16. S Mamukashvili

17. J Yanuyanutawa

18. Zander Fagerson

19. Tim Swinson

20. Rob Harley

21. Ali Price

22. Finn Russell

23. Sean Lamont

Leinster

15. Rob Kearney

14. Zane Kirchner

13. Ben Te’o

12. Luke Fitzgerald

11. Dave Kearney

10. Ian Madigan

9. Eoin Reddan

1. Cian Healy

2. Richardt Strauss

3. Marty Moore

4. Tom Denton

5. Mike McCarthy

6. Rhys Ruddock (c)

7. Josh van der Flier

8. Jordi Murphy

Subs

16. Sean Cronin

17. Peter Dooley

18. Tadhg Furlong

19. Ross Molony

20. Dominic Ryan

21. Isaac Boss

22. Cathal Marsh

23. Garry Ringrose

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