Need to Know: Cardiff Blues v Glasgow Match Preview

KO 3.00 at Cardiff Arms Park, Saturday 7th November
Live on Sky Sports

Team Talk
Glasgow’s returning World Cup Warriors will take the side to 50 players used so far this season (51 if James Malcolm comes off the bench). Cardiff welcome back 3 of their own Welsh RWC players and give a debut to Rey Lee-Lo (remember him? The Scotland players certainly should…) who was also on duty during the World Cup with Samoa.


15 Dan Fish
14 Alex Cuthbert
13 Rey Lee-Lo
12 Gavin Evans
11 Tom James
10 Rhys Patchell
9 Lloyd Williams
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Taqele Naiyarovoro
13 Mark Bennett
12 Peter Horne
11 Tommy Seymour
10 Finn Russell
9 Grayson Hart

1 Gethin Jenkins (c)
2 Kristian Dacey
3 Taufa’ao Filise
4 Lou Reed
5 James Down
6 Ellis Jenkins
7 Sam Warburton
8 Josh Turnbull

1 Gordon Reid
2 Pat MacArthur
3 Sila Puafisi
4 Leone Nakarawa
5 Jonny Gray (c)
6 Josh Strauss
7 Chris Fusaro
8 Adam Ashe

16 Matthew Rees
17 Sam Hobbs
18 Craig Mitchell
19 Jarrad Hoeata
20 Manoa Vosawai
21 Tavis Knoyle
22 Jarrod Evans
23 Tom Isaacs

16 James Malcolm
17 Ryan Grant
18 Zander Fagerson
19 Greg Peterson
20 Rob Harley
21 Ryan Wilson
22 Mike Blair
23 Junior Bulumakau

Glasgow Greetings:
James Malcolm sits and waits patiently for the second week running. He will be the 16th Warriors first-timer this season if he does make it on to the pitch at some stage.

Matchday Milestones:
When he comes on Bob Harley will be making his 100th Pro 12 appearance for Glasgow. This will also be the first time in over a year and a half that he’s been on the bench so someone else may need to remind him what to do! (Also belated recognition for James Eddie who also made his 100th Pro 12 appearance earlier this season against Connacht.)

Warriors One to Watch:
There’s an exciting array of attacking talent in the Glasgow backline but it’s up front that the Warriors must win the battle if they are to earn the right to go wide and exploit the pace, trickery and power available in the outside channels. For that reason this week’s one to watch is new skipper, Jonny Gray. With the Ginger Ninja having a well-earned rest on the bench, workhorse duties will fall to Jonny and he’ll be expected to get through a lot of carrying and ruck clearing to ensure a steady supply of possession. His leadership and decision-making will also have a big impact on the success or otherwise of the team in this game – but anyone who has been lucky enough to watch Gray the younger develop at Glasgow knows his temperament is perfectly suited for these kind of situations.

Head to Head:
Back 3 – ADV Glasgow
Centres – EVEN
Half Backs – EVEN
Front Row – ADV Blues
Second Row – ADV Glasgow
Back Row – ADV Glasgow
Subs – EVEN (in part due to a dodgy split for the Warriors)

Toonie’s Track Record…
…against Cardiff Blues:

  • League play – 6 wins, no losses. 2 Try BPs. 26 points in total.
  • Champions Cup – no wins, 2 losses.
  • Glasgow have taken more points from the Blues than any of the other Welsh teams.
  • They have won all 3 of Gregor Townsend’s Pro 12 fixtures at the Arms Park but have never managed a bonus point.
  • Any Warriors players or fans feeling too confident about Saturday’s game just need to look at the Heineken Cup match from a couple of years ago to see what can happen when tactics and execution are not spot on.

Last season’s match-up:

Attempts at goal from penalties by Cardiff – equal highest of the season conceded by the Warriors. Long range kicking is one of Rhys Patchell’s strengths and allied to the good condition of the Arms Park pitch mean anything within 60 metres is fair game. Glasgow cannot afford to give away soft penalties around the middle of the field like they did last week against the Ospreys.

Total number of lineouts in the game with not a single one lost by either side. Neither team could get much change out of the setpiece but with Leone Nakarawa in the lineup this time out Glasgow might be more confident of using his athleticism to disrupt Kristian Dacey and company.

Percentage of rucks successfully completed by the Blues – teams would expect this figure to be at least 95% and generally closer to 97%/98%. Cardiff have their own weapon for disrupting the ball in Sam Warburton but if Glasgow make good decisions about when to attack and lay off the breakdown this is an area they can get at the Welshmen, with opportunities for the kind of turnover ball the backline loves to make use of.

Percentage of kicks at goal made by Glasgow – 7 from 7 which was one of the best performances of the season. With an overall success rate below 80% from their 3 main kickers last season, the Warriors will be looking for more days like this which could be crucial in tight games.

Metres run by DTH van der Merwe and Niko Matawalu from only 8 carries. The 2 substitutes played just 42 minutes between them but had a big impact on the outcome, allowing Glasgow to turn their previous dominance into tries that stretched the game away from the Blues. Another reminder that the game has to be considered in the context of all 23 players selected. Who will be the heroes this time round?

Home and Away:
Cardiff have only played once at home so far this season, on the opening day, and return home off the back of 5 consecutive away fixtures (and 5 losses). They haven’t been beaten at the Arms Park since January, although this period did include a defeat by the Ospreys at the Millenium Stadium in what was ostensibly a Blues home fixture.

The Warriors have only managed 2 wins in their last 10 away matches in the Pro 12 (at Zebre and Connacht). They did win their opening 3 games away from Scotstoun last season but in some ways their outstanding home form did mask somewhat this fairly poor run outside of Glasgow.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR, 43rd competition game)
Assistant Referees: Rhys Thomas, Gwyn Morris (both WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Aurwel Morgan (WRU)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (WRU)

Considering he is one of the league’s most experienced refs, Glasgow have had surprisingly few games officiated by Mr. Mitrea – just once in each of the last 2 seasons. In 2013/14 he was the man in the middle for the Pro 12 semi final versus Munster where there were only 16 penalties, split evenly between the teams and no cards. Last season he absolutely nailed Glasgow at the Sportsground with a penalty count of 15-5 in Connacht’s favour and 2 Warriors sin binned – although they still came away with the bonus point win. Mr. Mitrea reffed 12 matches last season (only surpassed by the Welsh wizards Ian Davies and Nigel Owens) and was bang on the league average of 1.3 cards per game. This will be only his second Pro 12 match of the season after Assistant Referee duties at the World Cup.

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