Need to Know: Glasgow Warriors v Southern Kings, Pro 14 match preview 2017/18

KO 7.35 at Sold Out Scotstoun Stadium, Friday 27th October
Live on BBC ALBA

These two sides sit at opposite ends of the Pro 14 (theoretical combined) table but Glasgow will be in no mood to make assumptions about the result. After a tough fortnight in Europe it’s time to get back on the horse, work hard and maintain their 100% winning record in the league.

Teams

GLASGOW WARRIORS
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Lee Jones
13 Nick Grigg
12 Sam Johnson
11 Niko Matawalu
10 Adam Hastings
9 George Horne
KINGS
15 Masixole Banda
14 Yaw Penxe
13 Berton Klaasen
12 Luzuko Vulindlu
11 Alshaun Bock
10 Martin Du Toit
9 Rudi van Rooyen

1 Alex Allan
2 Pat MacArthur
3 Zander Fagerson
4 Scott Cummings
5 Jonny Gray
6 Robert Harley (c)
7 Matt Smith
8 Matt Fagerson

1 Schalk Ferreira
2 Michael Willemse (c)
3 Rossouw De Klerk
4 Stephan Greeff
5 Bobby de Wee
6 Anidisa Ntsila
7 Jurie van Vuuren
8 Ruaan Lerm

16 George Turner
17 Ryan Grant
18 Adam Nicol
19 Greg Peterson
20 Lewis Wynne
21 Ruaridh Jackson
22 Stafford McDowall
23 Lelia Masaga

16 Tango Balekile
17 Mzamo Majola
18 Martin Dreyer
19 Lubabalo Mtyanda
20 Khaya Majola
21 Rowan Gouws
22 Oliver Zono
23 Jacques Nel

Warriors’ squad stats:
This will be the youngest starting XV Glasgow have put out so far this season with an average age of 24.6. Even with an extensive injury list and rest protocols for Scotland players the club can still call on 13 capped internationals in the matchday 23. There are 19 Scottish qualified players in the squad for Friday night. 16 of those selected came through the Scottish Rugby Academy or Elite Development Programme pathways.

Glasgow Greetings:
A Warriors’ debut is in the offing for 19 year old Stafford McDowall who was outstanding for Scotland u20 at the World Rugby Championships last summer. At 6’4″ tall and weighing in at more than 16 stone (even before pro conditioning has kicked in) he looks like he will provide a powerful (and skillful) midfield option in the future.

Ryan Grant and Lewis Wynne are in line to make their first appearances of the season. In Ryan’s case it will be 11 months since he last turned out at Scotstoun. If the bench is cleared it will take the total number of players used so far this season to 43.

First home appearance: Adam Hastings; Lelia Masaga.
First home appearance of the season: Matt Smith; George Horne; Greg Peterson.
First start: George Horne; Adam Hastings.
First start of the season: Niko Matawalu.

Warriors One to Watch:
In amongst the youthful exuberance on display in the Glasgow backline, Dave Rennie may well be looking for an older head to provide some calm thinking and direction. Niko Matawalu is unlikely to be that player. There’s more of a chance that he will be in the ear of George Horne and Adam Hastings to up the tempo and tap and go from everywhere!

The mercurial brilliance of Matawalu could well be ideal for this game though. His supporting lines are underrated and he will feed off the young half backs who both have the ability to break through the defensive line – the Hornawalu combination in particular could be a joy to watch… With the Kings themselves playing a relatively unstructured game look for Niko coming in off his wing when turnovers present themselves or when Glasgow go through multi-phase possessions.

Key stats:

ATTACK
20   Tries   7
18   Turnovers conceded (per game)   17
47%   Possession   41%
49%   Territory  40%

Nobody in the Pro 14 has had less possession and territory than the Kings. They have struggled to hold onto the ball – although it’s actually the Warriors who have the worst record in the league for this stat! With 12 of Glasgow’s 20 tries being scored from 2 phases of play or less they don’t necessarily need a lot of ball to be dangerous.

DEFENCE
138   Tackles made (per game)   150
89%   Tackle completion   86%

Those turnover and possession stats have seen the Kings having to attempt at least 20 more tackles per match than any other Pro 14 side. It’s hard graft and it’s bound to wear a team down. One area Glasgow have struggled at times though is patience in attack. Can they avoid the tendency to go for the miracle pass or grubber kick on early phases and work over the Kings’ defence?

SET PIECE
95%   Scrum success   92%
81%   Lineout success   81%

The two wobbliest lineouts in the league go head to head. Neither of these teams has been big on kicking from hand – but might that change if they realise the opportunities available for stealing opposition ball on their throw in?

DISCIPLINE
73   Penalties + free kicks conceded   77
0   Yellow cards   3

Glasgow are the only side in the Pro 14 who have yet to have a player sin binned. That’s a remarkable turnaround from the early days of last season which formed part of a catastrophic run of 31 yellow and 2 red cards in 41 matches and prompted On Top Of The Moon to write this piece about Cardmageddon

Home and Away:
Glasgow last 6 in Pro 12/14 (H) – W W L W W W
Kings last 4 in Pro 14 (A) – L L L L

Match officials:
Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU, 13th competition game)
AR1: Lloyd Linton (SRU)
AR2: Sam Grove-White (SRU)
TMO: Neil Paterson (SRU)

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

Matches – 1 (118 for all refs)
Average penalty count – 24.0 (19.1 all refs)
Average penalties for Glasgow – 15.0 (9.6 all refs)
Average penalties against Glasgow – 9.0 (9.5 all refs)
Yellow cards – in total (1.0 per game all refs)

The former Warrior takes charge of a Glasgow match for the 2nd time. It’s almost a decade since Mr. Adamson made his sole appearance for the club when he came off the bench to replace Sam Pinder against the Dragons at Firhill in January 2008.

Only Andrew Brace has handed out more penalties than Mr. Adamson’s 85 so far this season (and that’s because Mr. Brace has reffed 1 more game). Allied to both teams proclivities towards penalty and free kick offences and there could be an awful lot of whistling on Friday night…

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