Need to Know: Glasgow v Northampton Match Preview

KO 5.15 at Sold Out Scotstoun Stadium, Saturday 21st November
Live on Sky Sports

A delayed campaign gets under way after the terrible events in France last weekend. Hopefully there will be an opportunity for those in attendance at Scotstoun to pay their respects to the victims and all those affected by the violence in Paris.

Team Talk
A unique sighting of an unchanged 23 selected Gregor Townsend (he’s never even picked the same starting XV 2 games running!) although it’s almost certain if Glasgow had played last weekend there would have been some rotation for Saturday’s match. Northampton make a couple of injury-enforced changes but most interestingly swap their pivot with the superior kicking game of Steve Myler replacing the more mercurial JJ Hanrahan at stand off.

Teams

GLASGOW WARRIORS
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Mark Bennett
12 Peter Horne
11 Sean Lamont
10 Finn Russell
9 Mike Blair
NORTHAMPTON
15 Ben Foden
14 Ah See Tuala
13 George Pisi
12 Luther Burrell
11 George North
10 Steve Myler
9 Lee Dickson (c)

1 Ryan Grant
2 Pat MacArthur
3 Sila Puafisi
4 Leone Nakarawa
5 Jonny Gray (c)
6 Rob Harley
7 Simone Favaro
8 Josh Strauss

1 Alex Waller
2 Mikey Haywood
3 Kieran Brookes
4 Michael Paterson
5 Christian Day
6 Jamie Gibson
7 Tom Wood
8 Sam Dickinson

16 Shalva Mamukashvili
17 Gordon Reid
18 Zander Fagerson
19 Tim Swinson
20 Ryan Wilson
21 Grayson Hart
22 Richie Vernon
23 Taqele Naiyarovoro

16 Matti Williams
17 Ethan Waller
18 Paul Hill
19 Jonathan Fisher
20 Teimana Harrison
21 Kahn Fotuali’i
22 JJ Hanrahan
23 James Elliott

Glasgow Greetings:
It’s the same as last week with with 7 players still in line to make their European debuts for the Warriors on Saturday – Mike Blair, Sila Puafisi, Simone Favaro, Shalva Mamukashvili, Zander Fagerson, Grayson Hart, and Taqele Naiyarovoro – with Shalva (or player number 52 as he shall be henceforth known) making his very first Glasgow appearance in any competition.

Once Were Warriors:
No former Warriors in the Northampton ranks so it’s more like Some Time Ago Saints this week as Gregor Townsend and Sean Lamont both face off against one of their former clubs.

Matchday Milestones:
Mike Blair will finally make his 50th European appearance. Tommy Seymour will play his 75th match for Glasgow and Ryan Grant will need one more after Saturday’s game to become a Warriors’ Centurion. Sean Lamont will be looking for his 10th Heineken Cup try for the side to move level with Tommy Hayes as Glasgow’s top try scorer in European competition.

Warriors One to Watch:
Having picked Mark Bennett out of this squad last week it’s a contrast in styles this time out as the heavy conditions (after rain all week) and the power available in the Northampton pack suggests the Warriors need a big performance in the forwards. Rob Harley’s contributions tend to go under the radar a bit but Glasgow need someone to counter the workrate of Tom Wood and his colleagues in the Saints back row and the Ginger Ninja should be the ideal man for the job. He will be in there to cause maximum disruption around the field – particularly at rucks where he will be first in to protect possession or counter drive and spoil opposition ball. If he can lead the Warriors to winning the collisions at the breakdown this will go a long way to helping the side come away with the win.

Head to Head:
Back 3 – EVEN
Centres – EVEN
Half Backs – ADV Glasgow
Front Row – ADV Northampton
Second Row – ADV Glasgow
Back Row – EVEN
Subs – ADV Glasgow

Toonie’s Track Record…
…against English sides in the Champions Cup:

    • 4 wins, 2 losses. 1 Try BP, 1 Losing BP. 18 points in total out of a possible 30.
    • Home teams have won 5 of the 6 games with the Warriors win at Sandy Park against Exeter the only exception.
    • Glasgow have won their last 6 at home against English opposition after losing the previous 6.
    • Is any excuse needed to post this?

 

Key battles:

Scotland v Samoa redux?
Glasgow provided 7 of the backs in the 23 for the national side’s game against Samoa during the RWC and those who were there will have some pretty disturbing memories of that day in Newcastle. George Pisi, Ken Pisi and Kahn Fotuali’i helped Manu Samoa rip Scotland apart time after time as they played with the kind of pace and skill that had been sadly lacking from their previous games. Only  a slightly out of form George Pisi will start for Northampton tomorrow with Fotuali’i on the bench. Their presence is still likely to give Warriors’ and Scotland defence coach, Matt Taylor, pause for thought as he tries to ensure his side’s systems can contain the Saints’ attacking prowess.

Maul for nothing
Under new forwards coach Dan McFarland there has been a lot of work done to try and enable the Warriors forwards to use the maul as a consistent offensive weapon. This is still very much a work in progress but the team have had some early season success with the stick it up the jumper approach. On the defensive side Dan has also been attempting to get Glasgow countering the maul more effectively. Despite a reasonable performance in this aspect against the Cardiff Blues last time out there’s still a long way to go and Northampton will be a big step up in quality – they have a pack that can make serious yardage with their mauling prowess.

Scrum half smackdown
Both sides have opted to start their more cerebral number 9s ahead of a more physical option on the bench. For Glasgow Mike Blair is almost the stereotypical old head in among a young team. For the Saints, Lee Dickson provides leadership and control. Both men will play in a similar way – in their own half they’ll be looking to gain territory; in the opposition half they’ll be looking to for ways to create space and unleash their dangerous backlines. The backup scrum halves will likely change the style of the game somewhat when they come on with Grayson Hart being more likely to challenge the Northampton back row and test the defence around the fringes while Kahn Fotuali’i will bring a running and offloading threat which will mean Glasgow need to alter their focus as well.

Home and Away:
Glasgow have won 4 and lost 5 of their Champions Cup games at Scotstoun and their home base has been far less of a fortress in Europe than it has been for domestic duties – Ulster and Cardiff Blues have won Heineken Cup matches there which is something both sides have failed to do in the Pro 12.

Northampton have a winning record away from home across the same period with 5 victories and 4 defeats on their travels. The Saints have lost both their away fixtures in the Aviva Premiership so far this season.

Officials:
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (Fra)
Assistant Referees: Maxime Chalon (Fra), Mystery Man
TMO: Gilles Cogne (Eng)
Citing Commissioner: John Cole (Ire)

Glasgow have very little experience of Mr. Gauzere with just one Warriors’ game officiated by the French whistler in the past 2 seasons. Mr. Gauzere was involved in 8 matches at the RWC, refereeing 4 of them, so is clearly highly rated within the corridors of power at World Rugby.

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