Same starting line-up for Glasgow as Sexton returns for Leinster

Only one change on bench for Warriors from 23 that beat Ulster in semi-final

Dave Rennie
Glasgow Warriors coach Dave Rennie. Image: © Craig Watson

DAVE Rennie has named an unchanged Glasgow starting line-up for tomorrow’s PRO14 final, with only one alteration on the bench – the fit-again Siua Halanukonuka coming in as tighthead replacement for D’Arcy Rae. By contrast, Leinster coach Leo Cullen has made several switches from the side that began last week’s semi-final win over Munster, the most significant being the return to the starting line-up of Johnny Sexton. Scott Fardy also begins for the Irish province in place of the injured Devin Toney, while Rob Kearney is at full-back after sitting out the semi.

Speaking after his team’s run-out at Celtic Park, Rennie said that serious consideration had been given to changing the team round, but that in the end the performance in the 50-20 win over Ulster in the semi-final had persuaded him the line-up should not be changed.  “We had good discussions around it,” the Warriors head coach said. “There was certainly some talk around other guys, especially from the bench point of view.

“It’s hard to leave people out after last week, and D’Arcy is a bit unlucky, but Siua is a really good option for us. He’s a strong scrummager. He’s been out the mix for a little while and we probably could have thrown him in the mix last week, but we wanted to get a bit more footy into him and hope we were still alive. It’s just great to have consistency in selection and these boys have played a lot of footy together over the last six weeks and it’s going to help.”

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While the manner of last week’s victory at Scotstoun was a massive morale boost, there were still obvious failings to be addressed, such as the concession of three tries. But, while those defensive lapses were the down side of the Ulster match, the positive aspect is that Rennie knows his players can be better.

“It’s hard to accurately say what more we need, but we know we can play a lot better than last week,” he continued. “We hadn’t had a game for three weeks. We think we can defend better, but we were really clinical – that’s important in big games. I don’t imagine we’ll get the number of openings we did last week, but if we get two or three we need to nail them and that’s an area we’ve been really good at over the last month.”

Glasgow Warriors (v Leinster at Celtic Park, Saturday, 6.30pm, live on Premier Sports): 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, Matt Fagerson. Substitutes: Grant Stewart, Oli Kebble, Siua Halanukonuka, Ryan Wilson, Tom Gordon, George Horne, Pete Horne, Huw Jones.

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

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales).

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Stuart Bathgate
About Stuart Bathgate 827 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.