Need to Know: Glasgow v Ulster Match Preview

KO 7.35 at Sold Out Scotstoun Stadium, Friday 25th March
Live on BBC ALBA and BBC NI

Team Talk
Gregor Townsend makes 10 changes to the starting XV from least week’s “best win of the season” against Leinster. 13 Scotland caps return from international duty or injury and this may well be the strongest 23 fielded by Glasgow so far in this campaign. The squad have almost 1,500 previous Warriors’ appearances behind them – over 200 more than any side named in 2015/16. Ulster will be missing Best, Payne and Trimble who featured in last week’s Ireland-Scotland clash but can call on Iain Henderson again after injury. Danger man Craig Gilroy is back on the wing where he tormented the Warriors in the reverse fixture at the Kingspan Stadium just 6 weeks ago.

Teams

GLASGOW
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Mark Bennett
12 Alex Dunbar
11 Sean Lamont
10 Finn Russell
9 Henry Pyrgos
ULSTER
15 Stuart Olding
14 Craig Gilroy
13 Luke Marshall
12 Stuart McCloskey
11 Rory Scholes
10 Paddy Jackson
9 Ruan Pienaar

1 Gordon Reid
2 Fraser Brown
3 Sila Puafisi
4 Jonny Gray (c)
5 Leone Nakarawa
6 Rob Harley
7 Chris Fusaro
8 Josh Strauss

1 Callum Black
2 Rob Herring
3 Ricky Lutton
4 Alan O’Connor
5 Franco van der Merwe
6 Iain Henderson
7 Chris Henry
8 Nick Williams

16 James Malcolm
17 J Yanuyanutawa
18 Zander Fagerson
19 Tim Swinson
20 Ryan Wilson
21 Grayson Hart
22 Duncan Weir
23 T Naiyaravoro

16 John Andrew
17 Kyle McCall
18 Andrew Warwick
19 Robbie Diack
20 Sean Reidy
21 Paul Marshall
22 Sam Windsor
23 Darren Cave

Glasgow Greetings:
No new faces this week but, after signing on a short-term deal, could loosehead prop Djustice Sears-Duru become the 57th Warrior in the coming weeks? If he does it will maintain the tradition of Canadian influence on the club with at least one Canuck appearing for Glasgow in each of the last 11 seasons. It’s more a case of welcome back for Gray, Strauss, Wilson, Russell, Lamont, Seymour, Naiyaravoro and Hogg who haven’t played at Scotstoun for over 3 months!

Matchday Milestones:
Skipper Jonny Gray will make his 50th appearance for the club at the age of just 22. This game will also see Sean Lamont making the 100th Pro 12 start of his long career. The first of Sean’s starts in (what was then) the Celtic League came way back on 12th October 2003 – almost 13 ½ years ago!

Warriors One to Watch:
Finn Russell has only played 6 minutes of rugby since Scotland’s win over Italy in the 6 Nations. The Finnocent One will be desperate to get out there and strut his stuff for Glasgow in what has been a stop-start season for the young maestro – this will be just his 4th Pro 12 appearance of the campaign. Since he joined the club this has been the time of year when Finn has really shown what he is capable of. Hitting that kind of form as the season moves into its closing stages would be hugely beneficial to the Warriors as they try to defend their title.

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

Toony’s Track Record…

…against Ulster:

  • League play – 4 wins, 3 losses. 2 Try BPs, 1 Losing BP. 19 points (54%)
  • Playoffs – 1 win
  • Champions Cup – 2 losses
  • It’s been nip and tuck between these 2 sides in recent years – generally the home side has held the advantage in these contests.

Last season’s match-up:

1
Moment of magic from Stuart Hogg. When a game is drifting sometimes it needs a bit of inspiration to bring it to life. Enter Hoggy to find a gap in the Ulster defence from nowhere, then chip and chase his way to the line. The massive boost it gave the crowd and the players set the tone for what was to come over the next 18 minutes.

4
Substitutions made by Gregor Townsend on 51 minutes (most notably Henry on and Niko to the wing). 21 minutes later a 10-6 deficit had been turned on its head and the side were bringing playoff rugby back to Scotstoun. The depth of the Glasgow bench could be crucial again in this season’s encounter.

22
Points scored by Finn Russell – his highest total in a single game for Glasgow. This was Finn’s 30th appearance for the Warriors – and he hadn’t scored a single try in his previous 29. He smashed his drought in style with a quickfire double to help propel the side to a bonus point (and just to prove it wasn’t a fluke he added another in the playoff final as well!)

Home and Away:
Glasgow have won 26 out of their last 27 Pro 12 games at Scotstoun. Ulster have won 3 of their 8 away fixtures this season.

Officials:
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU, 51st competition game)
Assistant Referees: Graeme Wells, Cammy Rudkin (both SRU)
Citing Commissioner: John Montgomery (SRU)
TMO: Neil Paterson (SRU)

Mr. Lacey has refereed Glasgow 7 times across the past 3 seasons – although it will be more than 2 years since he last officiated at Scotstoun. The Warriors haven’t been on the right side of the crime count in any of those fixtures and the aggregate total for penalties stands at 90-58 against Glasgow. Mr. Lacey is above average for penalties awarded but only average for cards issued which may lead to a stop/start game with constant whistling rather than decisive action.

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