Need to Know: Dragons v Glasgow Match Preview

KO 7.05 at Rodney Parade, Thursday 25 February
Live on BBC Alba

Team Talk
With 6 players returning from Scotland duty and another 4 available again after injury, Glasgow are able to put out a much stronger side than expected. In fact, per the official On Top Of The Moon depth chart, Jonny Gray is the only ‘first-choice’ forward unavailable for selection. The Dragons side is a blend of youth and experience with hooker (and captain) Thomas Rhys Thomas having almost as many Pro 12 appearances under his belt as all 6 Glasgow front row players combined (158 v 162)!

Teams

DRAGONS
15 Carl Meyer
14 Ashton Hewitt
13 Adam Hughes
12 Adam Warren
11 Nick Scott
10 Angus O’Brien
9 Sarel Pretorius
GLASGOW WARRIORS
15 Peter Murchie
14 Taqele Naiyarovoro
13 Glenn Bryce
12 Alex Dunbar
11 Rory Hughes
10 Duncan Weir
9 Mike Blair

1 Phil Price
2 T Rhys Thomas (c)
3 Brok Harris
4 Cory Hill
5 Matthew Screech
6 Nick Crosswell
7 Nic Cudd
8 Lewis Evans

1 Jerry Yanuyanutawa
2 Fraser Brown
3 Sila Puafisi
4 Greg Peterson
5 Leone Nakarawa
6 Rob Harley
7 Simone Favaro
8 Josh Strauss (c)

16 Rhys Buckley
17 Hugh Gustafson
18 Lloyd Fairbrother
19 Rynard Landman
20 James Benjamin
21 Charlie Davies
22 Geraint Rhys Jones
23 Ross Wardle

16 James Malcolm
17 Gordon Reid
18 Zander Fagerson
19 James Eddie
20 Chris Fusaro
21 Grayson Hart
22 Fraser Lyle
23 Lee Jones

Glasgow Greetings:
No new faces this week. Will Cameron Fenton end up being the last of the season’s debutants?

Matchday Milestones:
Henry Pyrgos made his 99th appearance for Glasgow in the Pro 12 Grand Final on 31st May. 270 days later he’s still sitting on the sidelines as Peter Murchie becomes the 5th player this season to join the Warrior Centurions ahead of the luckless HP. Zander Fagerson will play his 25th game for Glasgow when he comes off the bench. And there’s yet another landmark for Mike Blair as he starts a Pro 12 match for the 100th time.

Warriors One to Watch:
With most of Glasgow’s international absentees coming from the backline and his teammates either side only just back from injury the performance of Duncan Weir will be absolutely crucial. Duncy mixed up his play against Munster in the team’s bonus point win at Rugby Park, with the highlight being a nice turn of speed to make the line for a try early in the second half. Kicking from the tee that night was a bit of a mixed bag but he should hopefully face less challenging conditions that will allow him to keep the scoreboard ticking over in Glasgow’s favour.

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

Toony’s Track Record…
…against Dragons:

  • 5 wins, 2 losses. 4 Try BPs, 1 Losing BP. 25 points out of a possible 35.
  • Gregor Townsend’s side have better records against both the Ospreys and Blues with the Scarlets the only Welsh side giving up less points than the men of Gwent.

Last season’s match-up:

1
Red cards for Glasgow – handed out to Warriors’ flanker Tyrone Holmes for stamping. This remains the only sending off in the Townsend era.

63
Percentage of time spent in possession by the Warriors. Glasgow controlled the game (particularly in the second half after the red card), rarely letting the Dragons get their hands on the ball and dominating territory – 76% of the match was in the hosts’ end of the pitch in the second half. Similar tactics (with 15 men this time) could be very effective.

38
Tackles made by the pack – the lowest of the season (by contrast they had to make 97 the following week against Connacht!) Although the tactics were shaped by Tyrone’s dismissal the template of spending as much time as possible on the ball is a good one to follow when it comes to breaking down the Dragons and stopping them getting a foothold in the match.

Home and Away:
Dave Parade has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for Glasgow with only 2 wins in their last 6 trips to Newport (although that does include their record Pro 12 victory in 2013). The Warriors have still to add to their solitary away win in the league this season – back in November against Cardiff – while the Drags have already seen off both Leinster and Munster on their home patch in 2015/16..

Officials:
Referee: Gary Conway (IRFU, 22nd competition game)
Assistant Referees: Leighton Hodges, Dai Cambourne (WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Aurwel Morgan (WRU)
TMO: Paul Adams (WRU)

For the third time this season Glasgow will have the same referee for both home and away meetings in the Pro 12. This does appear to be a deliberate policy for the league. Does it allow teams to prepare more effectively? Or does it mean one side benefits in both matches if they can ‘play’ that particular ref better? Mr. Conway is a big fan of yellow cards, averaging 1.63 per game and has the 3rd highest total in the league (including Hart, Naiyarovoro and Favaro already this season). The Irish whistler is particularly hot on illegal tackles so the Warriors 23 need to be squeaky clean in this respect.

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