Need to Know: Ospreys v Glasgow, Pro 14 Match Preview 2017/18

KO 1.00 at Liberty Stadium, Sunday 26th February
No live TV coverage

Team Talk
Sometimes it’s easy being a coach. Take this week’s Glasgow Warriors’ selection by Dave Rennie – there are only 24 members of the full-time squad who are available this week so essentially the side just picked itself!

The Ospreys and Glasgow have already met this season, in Round 2, with the Warriors running out fairly comfortable winners. Only 3 of this Sunday’s starting XV for Glasgow also started that match – due largely to the 25 players missing on international duty or injured. The Ospreys are short of 19 players themselves but will at least have 10 of the side that started the game at Scotstoun backing up at the Liberty Stadium.

  • The Warriors’ matchday 23 has the fewest previous appearances for the club of any selection this season – 782 (next lowest 968 v Connacht)
  • The fewest capped internationals – 10 (next lowest 12 v Leinster)
  • The most non-Scottish qualified players – 7 (averaging 4 this season)
  • This will be the biggest pack Glasgow have fielded in this campaign at 912kg – boosted in no small part by the 127kg of Samuela Vunisa in the back row.

15 Dan Evans
14 Hanno Dirksen
13 Joe Thomas
12 Ashley Beck
11 Jeff Hassler
10 Sam Davies
9 Tom Habberfield
15 Ruaridh Jackson
14 Lelia Masaga
13 Nick Grigg
12 Sam Johnson
11 Leonardo Sarto
10 Adam Hastings
9 George Horne

1 Paul James (c)
2 Sam Parry
3 Dmitri Arhip
4 Lloyd Ashley
5 Bradley Davies
6 Olly Cracknell
7 Guy Mercer
8 James King

1 Alex Allan
2 Pat MacArthur
3 D’arcy Rae
4 Kiran McDonald
5 Scott Cummings
6 Callum Gibbins (c)
7 Matt Smith
8 Samuela Vunisa

16 Scott Baldwin
17 Gareth Thomas
18 Ma’afu Fia
19 Rob McCusker
20 Will Jones
21 Reuben Morgan-Williams
22 James Hook
23 Dafydd Howells

16 George Turner
17 Ryan Grant
18 Siua Halanukonuka
19 Hamilton Burr
20 Lewis Wynne
21 Kaleem Barreto
22 Brandon Thomson
23 Lee Jones

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

Glasgow Greetings:
Kiran McDonald and Samuela Vunisa will play their first ever games for the Warriors. There could be as many as 3 further debuts among the replacements with new boys Siua Halanukonuka, Hamilton Burr and Kaleem Barreto set to feature. If the bench is cleared that will take the number of players used so far in the Rennie-sance era to 48.

Where Are Warriors, Where Are Warriors?
Of the 50 full-time and partnership contract players, 21 are on duty at the Liberty Stadium (with 2 Academy players making up the matchday squad). Of the remaining 29:

  • 12 are with Scotland in Edinburgh
  • 10 are injured
  • 4 are fit but not selected (although it’s likely at least 3 are travelling to Wales as cover)
  • 1 is in Tbilisi with the USA
  • 1 is in Narbonne with Fiji
  • 1 is preparing to fly out to Dubai for the first leg of the 7s World Series

Warriors One to Watch:
On Top Of The Moon has previously tipped Scott Cummings to have a big season (here) and the young lock already has more minutes under his belt than in his previous two campaigns with Glasgow. He’s quickly establishing himself as the premier lineout operator in the side and has 6 of the club’s 8 steals on the opposition throw.

Spending time in camp with the Scotland squad with 3 very different second rows in Jonny Gray, Ben Toolis and Grant Gilchrist will have been a useful experience for him as he establishes his own strengths and figures out how to keep improving. With rumours of Gray the younger’s potential departure to Bristol there could be an even bigger role in the offing for Scott at the Warriors for next season. Games like this are a chance for him to show the leadership he can bring to the team and demonstrate that he will be ready for the next step up.

The Ospreys v Glasgow fixture in the Pro 12 era

  • 3 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses
  • No Bonus Points
  • 14 points out of a possible 30 (47%)
  • Glasgow only managed 1 away win in the last 3 seasons against the other perennial members of the Pro 12’s top 6 (Leinster, Munster, Ospreys, Scarlets, Ulster)

Last season’s match-up:

League points picked up – the fifth of five games in the international windows where the club drew a blank, fatally undermining any pursuit of a playoff spot. As ever these sorts of games arrive laden with opportunities for players to stake a claim or to move up the pecking order. The individuals need to combine to provide a cohesive team performance and compete for the win if they want to really demonstrate their credentials to the coaching staff.

Carries by Brian Alainu’uese. Big Bri’s workrate was one of the small number of highlights from this game, arriving during a spell where he really seemed to be finding his feet at the club. Dave Rennie will be hoping that Samuela Vunisa will take on a lot of the carrying duties but the other big men, Scott Cummings and Kiran McDonald need to get involved as well to spread the workload.

Tackles made by the Ospreys. Glasgow dominated territory and possession; created far more rucks than their opponents and threw more than twice as many passes (257 v 118) but ultimately did little with the ball that they had. The Warriors need to be far more efficient with any possession that’s available this time around.

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

Match officials:
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU, 68th competition game)
AR1: Gareth John (WRU)
AR2: Elgin Williams (WRU)
TMO: Non-televised game

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

Matches – 13 (118 for all refs)
Average penalty count – 18.3 (19.1 all refs)
Average penalties for Glasgow – 8.8 (9.6 all refs)
Average penalties against Glasgow – 9.5 (9.5 all refs)
Yellow cards – 21 + 3 red cards (1.0 per game all refs)

It’s been more than 3 years since Glasgow and Mr. Davies managed to get through a game without rubbing each other up the wrong way. In the 10 Warriors’ matches the Welsh whistler has taken charge of since then he’s issued 10 yellow and 2 red cards to Glasgow players along with awarding 3 penalty tries against the club. There can be only one thought in mind when it comes to discipline on Sunday – best behaviour throughout!

Zebre (H) – 2 yellow cards
Ulster (H) – yellow card
Connacht (H) – yellow card, penalty try
Leinster (A) – 2 yellow cards, penalty try
Zebre (A) – yellow card
Connacht (A) – red card
Connacht (A) – yellow card
Ulster (H) – yellow card, penalty try
Edinburgh (A) – yellow card
Connacht (H) – red card

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