Two of the Guinness PRO14’s big hitters go head to head at Scotstoun on Friday night when Glasgow Warriors take on Leinster.
What’s at stake? Glasgow Warriors appear to be the front-runners for this season’s title having won seven games from seven so far.
But Leinster come into this fixture having produced five wins from their last five in all competitions – including two derby wins against Munster and Ulster.
Glasgow are looking for revenge after Leinster came to Scotstoun last month in the Champions Cup and emerged victorious.
Team News (Glasgow Warriors) Callum Gibbins will captain Glasgow Warriors as Leinster come to Scotstoun for the second time in two weeks.
He will lead a side that sees eleven players involved in Autumn International squads recalled.
George Horne is rewarded for his man of the match performance against the Southern Kings, retaining the number nine shirt and will start alongside his brother Pete in a Glasgow jersey for the first time.
Sam Johnson joins Nick Grigg in the centres while Lelia Masaga and Niko Matawalu start on the wings.
Jamie Bhatti, George Turner and Scott Cummings could all be in line to make their Scotland debuts this Autumn, they all pack down in the tight five.
Team News (Leinster) Leo Cullen hands a debut to inside centre Conor O’Brien, while Josh Murphy is also in line for a debut from the bench. Cullen is able to call upon four players named earlier this week in the Irish squad for the Guinness Series.
Having impressed when introduced in the Kingspan Stadium last week, Jordan Larmour starts at full back against Glasgow with Adam Byrne and Dave Kearney on the right and left wing respectively.
In the pack it’s a new look front row this week with Ed Byrne, Seán Cronin and Michael Bent selected, while in the second row Ross Molony captains the side and Scott Fardy starts in the back row for the first time in his Leinster career.
Talking Points Both sides preparations this week have been hampered by international call-ups ahead of the autumn series.
Some big names have returned to the matchday 23s but the likes of Jonathan Sexton and Finn Russell at fly half and Rob Kearney and Stuart Hogg at full back have been given the weekend off.
That said, there is much to watch out for – not least Jordan Larmour who so impressed off the bench against Ulster last time out.
Now at full back for Leinster, he and Adam Byrne will be box office while Glasgow have sibling half-back pairing of George and Peter Horne playing together for the first time.
Key Battle – Rob Harley v Scott Fardy
Former Wallaby Scott Fardy has been used exclusively in the second row for Leinster so far this season.
But with Ireland call-ups in the back row, Fardy moves to blindside flanker this weekend – a position he made his own for Australia in their run to the 2015 Rugby World Cup final.
This weekend he comes up against Rob Harley who was called up by Scotland last week for their autumn clashes.
The 27-year-old has been in fine form this season for unbeaten Glasgow – including a last-gasp try in Bloemfontein to down the Cheetahs.
Key stat Should they a produce victory against Leinster this week, then Glasgow Warriors will become only the third team in the Championship’s history to win their first eight games of the season.
Did you know? Leinster have won their last five matches against Scottish opponents in all tournaments including two on visits to Scotland.
Glasgow Warriors: Ruaridh Jackson, Lelia Masaga, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Niko Matawalu, Peter Horne, George Horne, Jamie Bhatti, George Turner, D’Arcy Rae, Tim Swinson, Scott Cummings, Rob Harley, Callum Gibbins, Matt Fagerson
Replacements: Pat MacArthur, Alex Allan, Adam Nicol, Lewis Wynne, Matt Smith, Hrny Pyrgos, Alex Dunbar, Leonardo Sarto
Leinster: Jordan Larmour, Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin, Conor O’Brien, Dave Kearney, Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ed Byrne, Sean Cronin, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, Mick Kearney, Scott Fardy, Jordi Murphy, Max Deegan
Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Peter Dooley, Andrew Porter, Josh Murphy, Dan Leavy, Nick McCarthy, Cathal Marsh, Hugo Keenan
Match Officials: Referee – Stuart Berry (SARU), Assistant Referees – Sam Grove-White, Lloyd Linton (both SRU), TMO, Jim Yuille (SRU)
At Scotstoun Stadium, Kick off 7:35PM, live on BBC ALBA
Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie
Niko Matawalu’s incredible individual performance paved the way for an eighth successive Guinness PRO14 victory for Glasgow Warriors after an exhilarating victory over Leinster.
The Warriors wing shone with a plethora of assists in the high-scoring contest, but it was one breathtaking individual run that had the Scotstoun crowd rocking in the first half.
George Horne and Nick Grigg shared four tries between them as the sixth try-scoring bonus point of the season was secured by the home side with just 28 minutes on the clock, to keep flying high atop Conference A.
But that was after Leinster had twice taken the lead, with Jamison Gibson-Park, Rory O’Loughlin and Adam Byrne all crossing in a stoic display from the visitors.
In a breathless start it was Leinster who struck first as excellent work in the midfield saw Jordan Larmour produce some nifty footwork, leaving Gibson-Park to find some space to bundle over.
But the lead lasted just two minutes through some equally-exquisite Glasgow interchange, Matawalu the man at the heart of it to set up Horne for his first.
Yet Leinster bounced straight back courtesy of their pack, shifting the ball to the right where O’Loughlin made no mistake.
This was a game you could not take your eyes off with a fourth try coming in the first 17 minutes, with the magical Matawalu dancing and weaving through the Leinster 22, the ball recycled to Grigg to go over from five metres.
At 14-14 the match was not slowing down, George Horne getting his second score from what seemed an impossible situation.
With Leinster down to 14 men, plenty of Warriors pressure was profited on, with the scrum half the man to stretch out and ground the ball despite being floored just a metre from the line.
But what followed was nothing short of magic. Scrambling backwards in defence, the ball went behind the Glasgow try line before settling in the hands of Matawalu in space.
Just five metres from his own posts, the wing wasted no time stretching his legs to evade tackles throughout the Leinster midfield and defence, unselfishly passing to Grigg to score his second and secure a bonus-point within 30 minutes.
Peter Horne obliged with his fourth successful kick, extending the lead to 31-14 at the break with a perfect penalty from in front of the posts.
Scotstoun was understandably on its feet come the half-time whistle, though the frenetic pace was unable to be kept up in the early stages of the second half.
That didn’t stop Leinster getting back into the game however, Adam Byrne adjudged to have grounded the ball mere milliseconds before being in touch, with namesake Ross reducing the arrears to ten heading into the last 20 minutes.
But while Glasgow were reduced to 14 men, the fourth and potentially decisive try was not to come Leinster’s way, missing out on the losing bonus point as a Guinness PRO14 thriller came to an end.
Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie