Need to Know: Connacht v Glasgow Match Preview

KO 3.00 at a Sold Out Sportsground, Saturday 7th May
Live on BBC One Scotland

Team Talk
After facing off against Zebre last Friday, just three weeks after their first encounter, Glasgow end the season with the second leg of their double header versus Connacht after a gap of almost 8 months! It will be a very different Warriors side that take to the pitch than the one that played at Scotstoun back in September with Lee Jones and Rob Harley the only players to start both games and only 6 of the 23 involved again. Connacht are similarly transformed with just 4 of their starting XV from September returning and 13 of the matchday 23.

Both sides have already qualified for the playoffs but this game will be crucial in determining who has home advantage and who travels where for the semi-finals. For a full breakdown of the possibilities check out On Top Of The Moon’s cut out and keep guide to the playoff permutations.

Teams

CONNACHT
15 Tiernan O’Halloran
14 Niyi Adeolokun
13 Robbie Henshaw
12 Bundee Aki
11 Matt Healy
10 AJ MacGinty
9 Kieran Marmion
GLASGOW WARRIORS
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Alex Dunbar
12 Peter Horne
11 Lee Jones
10 Finn Russell
9 Ali Price

1 Ronan Loughney
2 Tom McCartney
3 Finlay Bealham
4 Ultan Dillane
5 Aly Muldowney
6 Sean O’Brien
7 Jake Heenan
8 John Muldoon (c)

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

16 Dave Heffernan
17 JP Cooney
18 Rodney Ah You
19 Quinn Roux
20 Eoin McKeon
21 John Cooney
22 Shane O’Leary
23 Peter Robb

16 Pat MacArthur
17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa
18 Zander Fagerson
19 Tim Swinson
20 Simone Favaro
21 Grayson Hart
22 Mark Bennett
23 Sean Lamont

Once Were Warriors:
The peripatetic Aly Muldowney will be a familiar face to some in the Glasgow squad. Aly featured in 24 of the club’s 28 games in what was a tough rebuilding season in 2010/11 and his experience was an asset in a youthful side. Having also played for Stourbridge, Moseley and Exeter Chiefs, Aly will head to Grenoble for the 2016/17 campaign.

Matchday Milestones:
Rob Harley makes his 120th start for the club – only six players have more than the Ginger Ninja (see if you can guess who – answers in the comments!)

Warriors One to Watch:
Alex Dunbar is a key figure for Glasgow in both attack and defence. He is the outlet for the Russell/Horne axis when the opposition is pressing up fast due to his powerful running and ability to get over the gain line. He’ll also be the fulcrum for many of Glasgow’s backline moves where he can quickly identify the best line to take to challenge the defence. His twin tackle/ jackal abilities will be tested to the limit by the Connacht pairing of Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw. Aki in particular may require a change of style and all those hours spent attempting to stop Leone Nakarawa offloading in training should provide excellent preparation for trying to wrap up the Connacht number 12 and prevent him from keeping the ball moving!

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

Toony’s Track Record…
…against Connacht:

  • 7 wins, 0 losses. 3 Try BPs. 31 points out of a possible 35 (89%)
  • Connacht are one of 4 sides in the league that Gregor Townsend’s men have a 100% winning record against – the others are the Blues, Treviso and Zebre.
  • This is a very different Connacht side the Warriors are facing though and past performances are likely to have little relevance to Saturday’s game!

Last season’s match-up:

26
Tackles made by Jonny Gray – it almost goes without saying that of course he didn’t miss any! It was Jonny’s first time starting a game as Glasgow captain and he lead from the front in defence and attack. Expect more of the same on Saturday.

40
Minutes played by Glasgow’s starting props before they were substituted after a fairly torrid first half. Connacht may be missing the powerful presence of loosehead Dennis Buckley but this is still an area of the game they pride themselves on and they will be looking to use it to dominate field position and prevent the Warriors’ pack providing good quality ball for the backs.

192
The number of passes made by Connacht – the most of any side against the Warriors last season. The men from Galway had a lot of possession and made the Glasgow defence work overtime (202 tackles) but only managed to carve out one try. The Warriors will find that this year’s edition of Connacht rugby has much more penetration and creativity and the away side will need to be more guarded in the possession they concede if they want to keep their tryline intact.

Home and Away:
Connacht last 5 (H) – L W W W W
Glasgow last 5 (A) – L W W W W

Officials:
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU, 47th competition game)
Assistant Referees: TBC
Citing Commissioner: Eugen Ryan (IRFU)
TMO: TBC

This will be the fourth time this season that Mr. Davies has refereed Glasgow – including the home fixture against Connacht. The Welsh whistler has issued 4 yellow cards to Warriors in those games (Zander Fagerson, Taqele Naiyaravoro and Pat MacArthur – twice!) He’s also awarded two penalty tries against Glasgow (Connacht and Leinster) and the total penalty count from his previous matches is 27-18 – and not in the Warriors favour! There will be no excuse for the players not to know that they need to be very precise about their discipline in a game that is likely to be decided by some very fine margins.

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8 comments

  1. Good preview as always. Quite pleased to see you think Conn’s backrow equals Glasgow, as Harley for instance has a lot more experience than SOB. Imo Conn’s style of play looks to draw penalties and cards from the opposition so your lads will have to be careful considering the ref records. Can’t wait for the game, what do you think our lads need to do to beat your lads? Asking for my friend Pat, you’ll see him by the goalposts tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers! Back row battle is in the balance. Both set up to try and overpower each other so it’ll be all about who wants it more.

      I think the ideal for Connacht would have been to dominate the set piece so the loss of Buckley and White is big (and you could do without Ah You getting too many minutes!) Glasgow scrum is much stronger now than when we first played you this season and the lineout’s tightened up too – but I’m sure your coaches will have plans to disrupt in both areas.

      Like

  2. Good analysis as always. Must admit I am really looking forward to seeing how it goes between Horne, Dunbar, Aki and Renshaw. Wherever you are watching rugby tomorrow that must be one of the most exciting clashes anywhere. Add to that two 10s who play flat and who generally eschew the boot and it has the potential to be a cracker. I would agree that player for player Glasgow should just about shade it, especially when you take the respective benches into consideration, but Connacht have had a great season at home in front of their own fans and will be desperate to continue that tomorrow. As a test prior to the play offs you couldn’t dream of a better one for either side – a tough game, with 2 more, tougher, games to come. But I think Glasgow will just shade it simply because they have been in this situation before. Think of Glasgow vs Leinster or Ospreys in those first couple of play offs 5 or 6 years ago. Big game experience is a massive thing and Glasgow have it, Connacht do not, at least not this season.
    I’m very excited for this game tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

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