Need to Know: Ulster v Glasgow, Pro 12 Match Preview 2016/17

KO 3.00 at Kingspan Stadium, Saturday 18th February 2017
Live on Sky

Team Talk
What a difference a year makes. These 2 sides met at the Kingspan on the 12th of February 2016 but only 4 Warriors who started that match last season (also during the 6 Nations window) will do the same again in this fixture. Gregor Townsend has shaken things up, making 7 changes to the side that lost to the Scarlets. The starting XV selected have only played 784 matches for the Warriors. Glasgow sides with less than 1,000 previous games behind them have a 3 wins (Dragons, Zebre, Edinburgh) and 5 losses record compared to 9 wins and 3 losses (Munster x3) when the players combined have more than 1,000 appearances for the club.

ULSTER
15 Louis Ludik
14 Tommy Bowe
13 Luke Marshall
12 Darren Cave
11 Craig Gilroy
10 Peter Nelson
9 Ruan Pienaar
GLASGOW
15 Brandon Thomson
14 Lee Jones
13 Mark Bennett
12 Nick Grigg
11 Sean Lamont
10 Peter Horne
9 Henry Pyrgos (c)

1 Callum Black
2 John Andrew
3 Ricky Lutton
4 Peter Browne
5 Franco van der Merwe
6 Sean Reidy
7 Chris Henry (c)
8 Marcel Coetzee

1 Alex Allan
2 James Malcolm
3 Sila Puafisi
4 Brian Alainu’uese
5 Scott Cummings
6 Rob Harley
7 Simone Favaro
8 Adam Ashe

16 Rob Herring
17 Andrew Warwick
18 Wiehahn Herbst
19 Kieran Treadwell
20 Robbie Diack
21 Paul Marshall
22 Jacob Stockdale
23 Jack Owens

16 Corey Flynn
17 Jamie Bhatti
18 D’Arcy Rae
19 Tjiuee Uanivi
20 Lewis Wynne
21 Grayson Hart
22 Richie Vernon
23 Rory Hughes

Head to Head:
Back 3 – ADV Ulster
CentresADV Ulster
Half BacksADV Glasgow
Front RowADV Glasgow
Second RowEVEN
Back RowADV Ulster
SubsEVEN

Glasgow Greetings:
It’s Warriors debut number 18 for the season with Brandon Thomson becoming the 55th player used in 2016/17. With 2 more Western Province / Stormers players heading to Glasgow in the summer a nickname is surely required for this group. The Cape Town side are referred to as W.P. (pronounced “vee pee”) so let’s welcome the VeePeeWeegies…

Warriors One to Watch:
There’s an extremely potent Ulster backline to deal with so winning the forward battle could go a long way in helping Glasgow to pick up a result in this fixture. If that’s to be the case then Sila Puafisi will need to be a key contributor. Until his recent absence (due to a concussion) the big Tongan had played in 34 of 38 games since joining the club. He has been a remarkably consistent presence and will be the cornerstone of the effort in the scrum on Saturday. His efforts at clearing the breakdown in attack and protecting the gain line in defence will also be crucial to earning the Warriors a foothold in the game.

Toony’s Track Record…
…against Ulster:

  • 5 wins, 4 losses. 2 Try BPs. 2 Losing BPs. 24 points out of a possible 45 (53%).
  • The loss at the Kingspan Stadium almost exactly a year ago was Glasgow’s last defeat before embarking on a 9 match winning streak that took them to the playoffs. The team could do with a similar kind of run for the remainder of the 2016/17 campaign.

Last season’s match-up:

8
Defenders beaten by Craig Gilroy. All in the Ulster winger has bypassed 26 would be tacklers in his last 4 appearances against Glasgow. The absence of Charles Piutau will draw a lot of attention but the Irish winger, who’s been released from the national squad after scoring a hat-trick against Italy, is an equally significant threat to the Warriors’ ambitions.

48
Tackles made by the Glasgow back row. It was a heavy duty workload for Harley, Favaro/Fusaro and Wilson with a lot of scrambling cover defence going on. The Warriors’ 6, 7 and 8 need to be defending on the front foot, getting in the faces of the Ulster playmakers and disrupting them at every turn.

37
Percentage of time spent in the Ulster half. After an early try there was a huge rearguard action from Glasgow. A lack of kicking options didn’t assist with getting field position in opposition territory – Peter Horne and Brandon Thomson need a strong game in this respect to allow the Warriors to play in the right areas.

Home and Away:
Ulster last 6 in the Pro 12 (H) – W W W L W W
Glasgow last 6 in the Pro 12 (A) – L W W L W W

In this season’s Pro 12 Glasgow actually have a better record away from home (5 wins, 2 losses) than they do at Scotstoun (3 wins, 4 losses).

Officials:
Referee: Dan Jones (WRU, 4th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Davies (WRU), Paul Haycock (IRFU)
TMO: Time Hayes (WRU)

A Warriors (and Ulster) virgin this week in the shape of Mr. Jones who has sin binned an Italian player in each of his first 3 fixtures as a Pro 12 ref. Hopefully this isn’t an omen for Simone Favaro! Glasgow need to maintain their recent run of good discipline with only 2 cards in their last 10 matches compared to 12 in the first 10 games of the season.

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