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

KO 7.35 at Irish Independent Park, Saturday 8th April 2017
Live on BBC ALBA

It’s been 18 months since Glasgow last travelled to Munster on Pro 12 business. Lee Jones, Rob Harley and Adam Ashe are the only players who started that match during the Rugby World Cup and return for this one (there are 7 Munstermen in Saturday’s team who started in Round 3 last season). Gregor Townsend’s side have never lost 4 times in a season to one club (the last time for Glasgow was in 2005/06 against Leinster).

15 Andrew Conway
14 Darren Sweetnam
13 Francis Saili
12 Jaco Taute
11 Ronan O’Mahony
10 Tyler Bleyendaal
9 Duncan Williams
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Nick Grigg
12 Alex Dunbar
11 Lee Jones
10 Finn Russell
9 Ali Price

1 James Cronin
2 Rhys Marshall
3 Stephen Archer
4 Dave O’Callaghan
5 Billy Holland (c)
6 Jean Deysel
7 Conor Oliver
8 Jack O’Donoghue

1 Gordon Reid
2 Fraser Brown
3 Sila Puafisi
4 Brian Alainu’uese
5 Jonny Gray
6 Rob Harley
7 Ryan Wilson
8 Adam Ashe

16 Niall Scannell
17 Dave Kilcoyne
18 John Ryan
19 Donnacha Ryan
20 Peter O’Mahony
21 Angus Lloyd
22 Rory Scannell
23 Simon Zebo

16 Pat MacArthur
17 Alex Allan
18 D’arcy Rae
19 Scott Cummings
20 Chris Fusaro
21 Henry Pyrgos
22 Peter Horne
23 Rory Hughes

Head to Head:
Back 3 – ADV Glasgow
Half BacksADV Glasgow
Front RowEVEN
Second RowADV Glasgow
Back RowADV Glasgow
SubsADV Munster

Matchday Milestones:
This will be the 50th Pro 12 match of Jonny Gray’s career since making his debut against Edinburgh in December 2012. Looking ahead Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg will become Warrior Centurions the next time they turn out for Glasgow with both men making their 99th appearances for the club on Saturday.

Warriors One to Watch:
The offensive production of pocket rocket Nick Grigg has been pretty extraordinary this season. Only Tommy Seymour (22) has managed more clean breaks than Nick’s 18 and the wee man is out on his own when it comes to defenders beaten with 47.

The New Zealand born centre uses his low centre of gravity and powerful build to break through tackles. There is much more to his game though with quick feet and intelligent running lines making him a nightmare to defend. With Bennett and Jones definitely out of Scotland’s summer tour, Nick will be a strong candidate to make the trip to Singapore, Australia and Fiji.

Toony’s Track Record…
…against Munster:

  • League play: 4 wins, 5 losses. 2 Try BPs. 2 Losing BPs. 20 points out of a possible 45 (40%).
  • Playoff matches: 2 wins.
  • Currently Scarlets are the only other side that Gregor Townsend has a losing record against in the Pro 12 regular season.

Last season’s match-up:

Defenders beaten by Junior Bulumakau. This was undoubtedly Junior’s finest match for Glasgow as he terrorised the Munster defence. The only thing missing was the try that might have broken the game open for the Warriors. Glasgow will be keen to use their wide men again this season – but they will need to get round the home side’s rush defence first.

Percentage possession for Glasgow. It’s rare to travel to the West coast of Ireland and win the battles for territory (52%) and possession. More than that the Warriors had by far the better of the attacking exchanges, carrying the ball over 130m more and beating almost twice as many defenders. The end product was lacking though and with Glasgow only able to keep the scoreboard ticking over through Rory Clegg’s boot, their opponents were able to stay in touch with 2 tries. Even against an understrength Munster side chances are likely to be limited and Finn Russell and co. have to get points on the board whenever the opportunity arises.

Minutes of the game that had elapsed when Ian Keatley landed the winning points. The same man was at it again in the 76th minute of the league meeting at Scotstoun this season. With Francis Saili’s clincher also arriving in the last 10 minutes of the Champions Cup clash in January, Glasgow must be well aware that Munster thrive late on in tight matches.

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

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU, 149th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Adam Jones (WRU), Paul Haycock (IRFU)
TMONeil Hennessy (WRU)

This will be just the second time since the Pro 12 Grand Final (against Munster of course) that Nigel Owens has refereed one of Glasgow’s matches. Coincidentally (or possibly not) the other occasion was the home game this season against the Irish side.

Received wisdom is that the way Mr. Owens’ referees plays to the strengths of Munster. Although that may have been the case with the penalty count in the playoff final when the 2 sides met at Scotstoun in December, the Warriors conceded a season low 3 penalties – to 8 for the visitors, who also saw a player yellow carded.

A similar level of discipline would be helpful if Glasgow are to come away with the victory in Cork. It won’t be enough to just win the penalty count though – execution in attack, defence, the setpiece (in fact everywhere!) will need to be spot on if the Warriors are to keep their playoff dreams alive.

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