Matt Williams, coach of unbeaten Leinster, is preparing his men for a team capable of defeating them at their own game, as so many Scottish sides have done in Dublin before.

''Our guys tend tend to go out on the pitch thinking they can score four tries against anyone and win the game, but Glasgow look like a side who think that if the opposition score four tries they can score six,'' he said.

Having had an extra day's rest, however, and with what must be described as home advantage, even if the game is not on their home pitch at Donnybrook, Leinster must still be odds-on favourites, particularly since there seems no danger of them being taken by surprise by this free-scoring Glasgow side.

Tonight's visitors to the Irish capital are, however, beginning to enjoy their reputation as entertainers. ''In patches last Saturday we were as good as we've been at any time and while it is still very much Jekyll and Hyde, I believe there is a very big game in there,'' was the assessment of Glasgow's captain, Andy Nicol, who first made his name in this city.

That was back in 1992 when the scrum-half made a memorable try-scoring break on only his second appearance for his country in a win that was part of a sequence which shows a stark contrast between Scottish and Irish fates at Ireland's national stadium.

Since 1988, a year when the now near veteran Nicol was touring Australia with the Scottish Schools, Ireland have played 27 championship matches at Lansdowne Road and won only seven; Scotland during the same period have visited six times and lost just once.

Perhaps, then, while the ground is little more than one of Tommy Hayes' better punts from Leinster's home ground, the claim that this is a ''neutral'' venue is slightly more credible than it first seemed. Furthermore, Leinster are aware of the extent to which Scottish sides enjoy the short trip over the Irish Sea. In the past three seasons, in which Leicester, Stade Francais, Biarritz, Northampton, Newcastle and Newport have all been beaten there on European Cup duty, it was Edinburgh's comeback draw at Donnybrook last season that knocked Leinster out of the tournament.

That said, Glasgow have been well beaten on their visits to Dublin both on European duty two years ago and at the outset of this Celtic League campaign, while Gordon Bulloch is the only other member of the squad to have been involved in one of those many Scotland successes in Dublin.

In preparing to lead a highly inexperienced side at Lansdowne Road, then, Nicol can draw on the experience of having been a 20-year-old playing there under David Sole almost a decade ago. He will be warning them not to expect to enter what will instantly feel like a great sporting venue.

''My outstanding memory of the place is just how small it is,'' Nicol explained. ''People told me that before I went there and I didn't really believe them until the game. It was a unique ground back in 1992 and it is even more so now because of the way stadiums have developed around the world. We have become used to international grounds being so impressive but at Lansdowne Road you have the stands either side, with terracing at either end and two clubhouses in the corners.''

He also expects the atmosphere to be strange. ''I would be surprised if there were 20,000 or even 15,000 there. I played in an A international there when there was a very poor crowd and it was a bit eery,'' said Nicol.

Yet he suspects that will not greatly bother Glasgow's youngsters. ''With professionalism, the mentality has changed a bit and we are also trying to get it across that this is just another game,'' he noted.

''However, the fantastic thing about being 22 is that you don't have your head full of thoughts about the significance of the game or care which bit of grass it's on, you just want to go out and play rugby.''

Enjoying the game, even while playing for a living, is something Glasgow's senior figures have stressed, aware as they are that a huge opportunity beckons.

As for the added pressure of this being win or bust, Nicol noted that while last week's win over Connacht was their first official knockout match as a team, this whole campaign has felt like that.

''Since we lost our third match in this competition at Bridgend, every game has effectively been knockout because if we had lost any more games in the pool section we knew we would be out. So obviously we are underdogs because of Leinster's record this season and where this game is being played, but we know we have game breakers all over the pitch and that we can score tries against anyone, which is what gives you the confidence to believe you can win games.''

Leinster v Glasgow at Lansdowne Road tonight (kick-off 7.35pm) G Dempsey; D Hickie, B O'Driscoll, S Horgan, G D'Arcy; N Spooner, B O'Meara; R Corrigan capt, S Byrne, P Wallace, L Cullen, M O'Kelly, E Miller, K Gleeson, V Costello. Replacements: P Coyle or E Byrne, G Hickie, B Casey, T Brennan, B Willis, P McKenna or S Keogh, A Magro

Glasgow R Kerr; J Steel, J McLaren, A Henderson, M Bartlett; T Hayes, A Nicol capt; G McIlwham, G Bulloch, L Harrison, N Ross, J White, G Simpson, G Flockhart, R Reid. Replacements: G Scott, E Murray, S Griffiths, A Hall, G Beveridge, B Irving, A Bulloch