Need to Know: Cheetahs v Glasgow Warriors, PRO14 match preview 2017/18

KO 7.35 at Toyota Stadium
Friday 6th October

Live on BBC ALBA

The Cheetahs are unbeaten at home this season. Glasgow Warriors have yet to taste defeat on their travels. Something has to give in Bloemfontein on Friday night.


15 Sergeal Petersen
14 Rosko Specman
13 Francois Venter (c)
12 W Small-Smith
11 Makazole Mapimpi
10 Ernst Stapelberg
9 Tian Meyer
15 Ruaridh Jackson
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Nick Grigg
12 Sam Johnson
11 Leonardo Sarto
10 Finn Russell
9 Ali Price

1 Charles Marais
2 T Van Jaarsveld
3 Tom Botha
4 Justin Basson
5 Reniel Hugo
6 Paul Schoeman
7 Henco Venter
8 Oupa Mohoje

1 Jamie Bhatti
2 Fraser Brown
3 Zander Fagerson
4 Tim Swinson
5 Jonny Gray
6 Ryan Wilson (c)
7 Callum Gibbins
8 Adam Ashe

16 Jacques du Toit
17 Ox Nche
18 Johannes Coetzee
19 Rynier Bernardo
20 Junior Pokomela
21 Shaun Venter
22 Nico Lee
23 Luther Obi

16 George Turner
17 Alex Allan
18 D’arcy Rae
19 Brian Alainu’uese
20 Robert Harley
21 Henry Pyrgos
22 Peter Horne
23 Niko Matawalu

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

Glasgow Greetings:
A welcome return for the immense workrate of Jonny Gray. Even among a team who thrive on hard graft and putting their bodies on the line for their teammates Gray the younger has stood out in each of his 4 full seasons with the Warriors. Fraser Brown and Leonardo Sarto will make their first starts of the campaign.

Matchday Milestones:
No major player milestones this week but it’s worth noting that Ruaridh Jackson is the only member of the squad to start all 6 of Glasgow’s games this season. He has been a very solid presence at full back for the Warriors.

Warriors One to Watch:
This looks like a game that will be full of running rugby, end to end attacks and plenty of scores. If that’s the case then Glasgow’s Leo Sarto will be as dangerous as anyone on the pitch. His time at the club has been disrupted by injury meaning this will be just his 7th start and 12th game in total. The big Italian has made his mark even in that short time though with 5 tries in his 11 matches so far.

He must be enjoying the freedom playing outside such a talented backline brings as, in comparison, his time at Zebre only saw him scoring 7 times in 55 appearances. Leo combines some silky skills with a spiky Warrior mentality that dragged him through the Munster game despite an early ankle injury and also allowed him to do this…

Key stats:

23   Tries   16
92   Kicks   84
596   Passes   770
450   Carries   605

Glasgow and the Cheetahs are both set up to play at a fast tempo and score tries. They are 2 of the 3 teams in the league (along with Scarlets) who average more than 2 passes/offloads per ruck, meaning they are likely to look to keep the ball alive and move the defence around until they find those crucial mismatches between backs and forwards (or vice versa). The Cheetahs have done an awful lot with the ball they have had – only the Kings have had less territory and possession across the first 5 rounds. When they do get the ball they have been extremely efficient in taking advantage.

The corollary of this style of play is turnovers though. Glasgow have lost possession in this way more than any other side in the Pro 14. On a turnovers per carry basis the Warriors and Cheetahs have the 2nd and 3rd (respectively) worst record in the league. Of course this just adds to the excitement and scoring opportunities and both teams will look to play quickly off each others’ errors.

650   Tackles made   727
85%   Tackle completion   90%

The Cheetahs have the lowest tackle completion rate in the competition and only the Kings (127) have missed more tackles in total than the men from Bloemfontein’s 112. Glasgow have the 3rd best ratio in the Pro 14 but have been forced to make an awful lot of tackles. This has been fairly heavily influenced by some rainy conditions in their early season fixtures which has seen teams keeping things tight and going through repeated phases around the fringes. It’s likely to be a very different game for the Warriors on Friday and the changes in climate and altitude will present their own unique challenges.

96%   Scrum success   95%
93%   Lineout success   86%

For a side with such a high octane running game as their focus the Cheetahs still have some very solid fundamentals to fall back on. The lineout in particular can be a real weapon from which they can set up powerful rolling mauls. This is one of the major reasons why hooker Torsten Van Jaarsveld is the Pro 14’s equal top try scorer with 5. (Incidentally it’s worth noting that scrum success rate doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story in this aspect of the game – see the match officials section below.)

68   Penalties + free kicks conceded   58
3   Yellow cards   0

Both teams are among the bad boys of the league when it comes to offences committed – Cheetahs have the 2nd highest total with Glasgow 4th. Given their disciplinary struggles in recent seasons though Dave Rennie will be pleased that his side haven’t suffered any cards so far in this campaign.

Home and Away:
Cheetahs last 3 in Pro 14 (H) – W W W
Glasgow last 6 in Pro 12/14 (A) – L L L L W W

Match officials:
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU, 92nd competition game)
AR1: Cwengile Jadezweni (SARU)
AR2: Ben Crouse (SARU)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (SARU)

Mr. Clancy’s record in Warriors’ fixtures over the past 4 seasons:

Matches – 16* (118 for all refs)
Average penalty count – 17.8 (19.1 all refs)
Average penalties for Glasgow – 8.9 (9.6 all refs)
Average penalties against Glasgow – 8.9 (9.5 all refs)
Yellow cards – in total (1.0 per game all refs)

(Mr. Clancy also dished out one of the 3 red cards picked up by Glasgow last season when he sent off Brian Alainu’uese against the Ospreys at Scotstoun.)

No referee has taken charge of more Warriors’ games than Mr. Clancy over the past 4 years. This should hopefully give Glasgow a slight edge in terms of quickly adapting to the official’s interpretations compared to the Cheetahs who will be experiencing his game management for the very first time. The Irish invigilator can be a tad fussy when it comes to the scrum. Given there have already been 15 penalties against the home side’s props and 19 against the visitors there could be issues at the setpiece. Fingers crossed that both teams just want to get the ball back in play and there is less of an arm wrestle than usual.

* There are no stats available for Glasgow’s game away to Treviso in 2013/14 so Mr. Clancy’s penalty and card numbers are based on 15 games.


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