This was truly a game of two halves! In the first 40 minutes Glasgow raced ahead to a 27-7 lead, with Stuart Hogg looking particularly dangerous. Glasgow went in at half time one try away from a bonus point and from delivering a disastrous blow to Leinster’s top 4 aspirations. The scoreline seemed to be a combination of two things. Firstly, it has to be said that Townsend’s side play some extremely entertaining and effective rugby. They are willing to keep the ball in hand and run exciting lines to find gaps in the opposition’s defensive structure. They are top of the table for a reason, seemingly able to attack and score from anywhere on the park. The second factor of their high score was Leinster’s defence. Leinster players didn’t attack the line quickly and slipped off tackles far too easily. From one Leinster kick off deep into Glasgow’s 22, I counted four phases of play until they were inside Leinster’s 10 metre line. That is simply not good enough for a team of this calibre.
The second half was a complete turnaround with Leinster scoring a try almost instantly through an Isaac Boss chargedown. Boss added another after Jordi Murphy scored a terrific try. This grabbed Leinster the four try point and they looked set to win a dramatic turnaround. However Glasgow showed their class and adventure when they went to the corner and scored through a maul, meaning the match ended in a draw with an extra try bonus point for each side.
Some Talking Points:
Leinster were the hardest hit of any club side in Europe during the 6 nations. Under the Irish management this meant that lots of Leinster’s frontline and best players couldn’t play in this game. Glasgow weren’t constrained and were able to field almost all of their Scottish internationals. The rule makes sense for players like Heaslip and Ross etc. but for players like Sean O’Brien and Luke Fitxgerald who have only recently returned from injury, would it not make more sense to allow them to have game time? The rule generally makes sense, but I feel that allowances could have been made given the importance of the fixture. Before the introduction of players like Healy and Croinin, Leinster seriously struggled against a top class side.
Top 4 Hopes:
Now a top 4 finish for Leinster is looking increasingly difficult. With difficult fixtures like Ulster away to come, it looks a daunting task. Each remaining game needs to be won to be in with a sniff of finishing with a play off spot. Leinster are more than capable of competing if they do secure the top 4 finish, but there are doubts whether they have left themselves with too much to do.
Bath next weekend:
In the new European Championship quarter-finals, Leinster will play Bath at home. It is going to be a very tough game for Leinster. Having missed their international players for so long, it will very difficult for them to gel come this game. Also Bath have looked very dangerous this season, beating Toulouse away comfortably. They have a seriously talented back line buoyed by George Ford, who had a great 6 nations tournament. It is sure to be a great spectacle and hopefully we can progress to a semi-final.