Need to Know: Glasgow Warriors v Cardiff Blues, PRO14 Match Preview 2017/18

KO 7.35 at Sold Out Scotstoun Stadium, Friday 1 December 2017
Live on BBC ALBA

Glasgow are going for their 10th league win in a row – if they can emerge victorious on Friday they will set a new club record having twice before managed 9 on the spin before losing out to Leinster (2013/14 Grand Final) and Connacht (2015/16 Round 22).

Facing them are a Cardiff Blues side who have had a mixed season so far but who have just about managed to keep Conference A’s third-placed side, the Cheetahs, in range. Cardiff still have to play the South African side twice so they know if they can continue to keep pace then a playoff spot remains a possibility.

Teams

GLASGOW
15 Ruaridh Jackson
14 Lelia Masaga
13 Alex Dunbar
12 Sam Johnson
11 Leonardo Sarto
10 Peter Horne
9 Henry Pyrgos
CARDIFF BLUES
15 Gareth Anscombe
14 Owen Lane
13 Garyn Smith
12 Willis Halaholo
11 Blaine Scully
10 Jarrod Evans
9 Tomos Williams

1 Alex Allan
2 George Turner
3 Siua Halanukonuka
4 Kiran McDonald
5 Scott Cummings
6 Callum Gibbins (c)
7 Matt Smith
8 Ryan Wilson

1 Brad Thyer
2 Kirby Myhill
3 Taufa’ao Filise
4 George Earle
5 Macauley Cook
6 Josh Turnbull
7 Olly Robinson
8 Nick Williams

16 James Malcolm
17 Jamie Bhatti
18 D’arcy Rae
19 Brian Alainu’uese
20 Samuela Vunisa
21 George Horne
22 Adam Hastings
23 Niko Matawalu

16 Ethan Lewis
17 Corey Domachowski
18 Anton Peikrishvili
19 James Down
20 Damian Welch
21 Dane Blacker
22 Rey Lee-Lo
23 Tom James

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

Glasgow Greetings:
3 of the 5 players who made their Warriors’ debuts last week are retained and are in line to make their first appearances at Scotstoun for the club. Let’s give a very warm welcome to Siua Halanukonuka (who will also be making his first start for Glasgow), Kiran McDonald and Samuela Vunisa. This will also be the first home game of the season for James Malcolm who hasn’t played at Scotstoun since the 10th of February.

Matchday Milestones:
Alex Allan will play his 50th match in the PRO12/14 after 47 appearances in the competition for Glasgow and 3 for Edinburgh.

Warriors One to Watch:
Arriving in Glasgow on a season-long loan with just one start from his 6 years with Edinburgh expectations maybe weren’t that high for George Turner. Since then the pocket dynamo has earned himself a place as a mainstay of the squad, featuring in all bar one of the Warriors’ games, starting 7 of them (the only other players to miss just a single match are Jamie Bhatti and Ruaridh Jackson). He’s also made his Champions Cup debut and followed that up with his first two caps for Scotland in the Autumn Tests (playing at hooker and blindside flanker!)

George looks to be an excellent fit for the Rennvolution – he has good hands, carries bigger than his size would suggest and hits like a train in the contact areas. His setpiece work will develop the more game time he gets and if he can nail down his throwing in to the lineout and helping out his props at scrum time he will be able to think about pushing Fraser Brown for the top slot at hooker.

In the meantime just sit back and appreciate his all-round skillset and poacher’s instinct for the tryline that has seen him notch 3 scores already – making him the top dog in the pack so far this season.

The Glasgow Warriors v Cardiff Blues fixture in the PRO12 era

  • 6 wins
  • 4 Try BPs
  • 28 points out of a possible 30 (93%)
  • It’s worth bearing in mind that although the Warriors have a near perfect PRO12 record against Cardiff the same club came to Scotstoun and spoiled Glasgow’s Champions Cup party not that long ago…

Last season’s match-up:

4
Glasgow forwards with 10+ carries (Adam Ashe almost joined them with 9 in 29 minutes off the bench). The Warriors’ pack very nearly ground Cardiff into submission in a first half that saw the visitors manage just 18% possession. A combination of inaccuracy (Glasgow) and stubborn defending (Cardiff) meant that dominance counted for nothing on the scoreboard with the teams tied at 10-10 after 42 minutes. Glasgow need to be efficient with the possession and territory they have and keep picking up points.

12
Tackles missed by Glasgow – they only had to make 77. Cardiff on the other hand had 166 tackle attempts while only missing 16. From a defensive standpoint that broken tackle figure is key. The number of attempts can contribute to fatigue but if a side keep making their tackles and can force nearly the same number of errors from their opponents they will give themselves a chance of staying in the game.

16
Lineouts won by Glasgow from 17 throw-ins – the most in any game last season. The territorial pressure from the Warriors meant an awful lot of kicking by the Blues, with the men from Cardiff often opting to go to the touchline rather than risk inviting the Warriors’ back 3 to attack. Glasgow countered by mauling the ball frequently – setting up possession on 11 out of 12 attempts. After Scotland’s success in this facet of the game last weekend it may be a tactic Glasgow use to try and tie in the Cardiff pack and create space for the home side’s dangerous backline.

Home and Away:
Glasgow last 6 in Pro 12 (H) – L W W W W W
Cardiff Blues last 6 in Pro 12 (A) – D W L W L L

Officials:
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU, 157th competition game)
AR1: Lloyd Linton (SRU)
AR2: Keith Allen (SRU)
TMO: Andrew Cymene (SRU)

Mr. Owens’ record in Warriors’ fixtures over the previous 4 seasons:

Matches – 11 (118 for all refs)
Average penalty count – 15.1 (19.1 all refs)
Average penalties for Glasgow – 6.6 (9.6 all refs)
Average penalties against Glasgow – 8.5 (9.5 all refs)
Yellow cards – 4 in total (1.0 per game all refs)

The Warriors will have been more used to seeing Mr. Owens pitch up for games against Leinster and Munster so there will be a certain novelty value as the Welsh whistler arrives in Glasgow for the second time this season. As ever the league’s most experienced official will do everything in his power to let the game flow. If the players respond positively there should be plenty of running rugby. If cynicism is the order of the day then things might get a little bit messier…

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