Need to Know: Glasgow v Scarlets Match Preview

KO 1.00 at Scotstoun Stadium, Saturday 12th December
Buy tickets here
Live on Sky Sports

Team Talk
As he did after the previous postponed fixture against Racing 92, Gregor Townsend retains the same starting XV who prepared to play in the previous week’s cancelled fixture. There are 16 changes from the 23 that lost to Scarlets in the opening game of the season and Josh Strauss is the only man to start both games for Glasgow. The Welsh side return to Scotstoun with 12 of the 23 that ended the Warriors home winning streak, including 8 starters. The back row that dominated that game are entirely absent though with John Barclay, Aaron Shingler and James Davies all injured.

Teams

GLASGOW WARRIORS
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Taqele Naiyarovoro
13 Alex Dunbar
12 Peter Horne
11 Tommy Seymour
10 Duncan Weir
9 Mike Blair
SCARLETS
15 Steff Evans
14 Harry Robinson
13 Regan King
12 Gareth Owen
11 Michael Tagicakibau
10 Steve Shingler
9 Gareth Davies

1 Ryan Grant
2 James Malcolm
3 Sila Puafisi
4 Leone Nakarawa
5 Jonny Gray (c)
6 Josh Strauss
7 Simone Favaro
8 Adam Ashe

1 Phil John
2 Emyr Phillips (c)
3 Rhodri Jones
4 George Earle
5 Tom Price
6 Lewis Rawlins
7 Tom Phillips
8 Morgan Allen

16 Shalva Mamukashvili
17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa
18 Zander Fagerson
19 Tim Swinson
20 Rob Harley
21 Grayson Hart
22 Finn Russell
23 Sean Lamont

16 Kirby Myhill
17 Dylan Evans
18 Samson Lee
19 Maselino Paulino
20 Jack Condy
21 Rhodri Williams
22 Aled Thomas
23 Michael Collins

Glasgow Greetings:
It’s déjà vu all over again as the endlessly patient James Malcolm finally gets his first start for the Warriors, the 14th player to do so this season.

Once Were Warriors:
No return to Glasgow this week for the injured John Barclay and DTH van der Merwe who made a combined total of 249 Glasgow appearances – and no Rory Pitman either. Probably for the best as DTH was nailed on to score a try and JB is a pain in the proverbial at the breakdown (although he does get more than his fair share of yellow cards against the 2 Scottish teams!)

Matchday Milestones:
Warrior of the Month for November Leone Nakarawa will have a second attempt at playing his 50th game for Glasgow. Finn Russell will bring up 250 career points for the Warriors if he gets any kind of score on Saturday.

Warriors’ One to Watch:
With conditions likely to hamper attempts to play running rugby both sides may need to curb their normal attacking instincts. Glasgow will look for Adam Ashe to take on a significant amount of the offensive and defensive duties around the fringes. Adam’s workrate so far this season has been immense. He’s made 120 carries – more than double the next highest in the team and averaging out at 19 per game – and 73 tackles (average of 11 per game). His success or otherwise at getting over the gainline will go a long way to dictating how effectively Glasgow can play.

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

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

    • 2 losses. 1 Losing BP. 1 point in total out of a possible 10.
    • Despite Glasgow winning both season 2013/14’s Pro 12 fixtures comfortably against the Blues, when it came to Europe it was the men from Cardiff handing out the harsh lessons.

Key battles:

Centre of attention
Starting together for the first time in over 11 months the 12/13 pairing of Peter Horne and Alex Dunbar will have their hands full on Saturday afternoon. The Scarlets’ centres have plenty of experience – particularly 35 year old Regan King (who recently played alongside his son for the Welsh region). Both King and Gareth Owen were key to dismantling the Glasgow defence during the first half of the opening game of the season – and then equally key in stoutly defending that lead in the second half. It may be more of a day for blood and guts than running rugby but both Horne and Dunbar are well capable of mixing it in that type of game.

Back row blitz
As mentioned above the Scarlets back row has been decimated by injury – even Rory Pitman, the substitute back row from the season opener, has been struck down. This is an area that Glasgow will target to try and gain an advantage. With 2 very strong ball carriers (Ashe and Strauss) and 2 defensive workhorses (Ashe and Favaro) they will look to overpower their Welsh opponents. They will need to ensure they win the majority of the collisions to make up for the lack of a genuine turnover threat in the starting unit or on the bench.

Front row fumbles
With a rookie hooker (a rooker?), a still only recently arrived tighthead and a loosehead who struggled badly last time out in the Champions Cup, Glasgow will be happy if they can just get parity at scrum time. A solid platform on their own ball and not allowing Scarlets to use the setpiece as a steady source of penalties should be the goal but achieving that will be easier said than done. If things don’t go their way Gregor Townsend may regret not having Greg Peterson on the bench as a heavyweight option to attempt to shore things up behind the front row.

Home and Away:
Glasgow have won 4 and lost 6 of their Champions Cup games at Scotstoun. Scarlets have won all 4 previous meetings in Europe between the two sides, including 2 in Glasgow.

Officials:
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (Fra)
Assistant Referees: Sebastien Minery (Fra), Thomas Dejean (Fra)
TMO: Vincent Azoulay (Fra)
Citing Commissioner: Shaun Gallagher (Eng)

Glasgow have very little experience of M. Raynal with just one Warriors’ game officiated by the French whistler in the past 2 seasons. In his favour he did hammer Edinburgh in both the penalty and card count in that outing so he can’t be all bad. He does have a reputation as a very unlucky ref having suffered a double leg fracture and broken collarbone in a Top 14 game so an extremely slippy Scotstoun surface may not be the most appealing for him.

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