Need to Know: Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors, Champions Cup match preview 2017/18

KO 1.00 at Altrad Stadium, Saturday 16th December
Live on Sky Sports Action (Red Button)

Both sides make alterations to their starting XVs from last week’s fixture at Scotstoun. The home side rotate in 4 players who were on the bench for Round 3. Glasgow change 6 with 3 of those replacing enforced absentees Leonardo Sarto, Sam Johnson and George Turner.

To illustrate the difference in the way the sides’ squads have been constructed there are just 10 French qualified players in the Montpellier 23. The equivalent figure for the Warriors is 20 with Samuela Vunisa, Siosiua Halanukonuka and Niko Matawalu the only men who are not qualified to play for Scotland.

Champions Cup stats:

  • Glasgow have only won 3 of their 18 Champions Cup fixtures in France – Racing 92 (2016/17), Montpellier (2014/15) and Toulouse (2008/09).
  • Historically Round 4 has been the Warriors’ equal poorest in the tournament with a 26% winning percentage.
  • The lowest points total to qualify for a Champions Cup quarter final since 2002/03 (when 4 points for a win and BPs were introduced) is 16 by Toulon in last year’s tournament. They are also the only team to progress to the latter stages with 3 defeats to their name. 3 BP wins in their remaining fixtures would put Glasgow on 16 points. Anyone for a Christmas miracle???

MONTPELLIER
15 Jesse Mogg
14 Gabriel N’gandebe
13 Francois Steyn
12 Jan Serfontein
11 Nemani Nadolo
10 Aaron Cruden
9 Benoit Paillaugue
HEAD-TO-HEAD
EVEN
ADV Glasgow
ADV Montpellier
EVEN
ADV Montpellier
ADV Montpellier
ADV Glasgow
GLASGOW
15 Ruaridh Jackson
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Nick Grigg
12 Alex Dunbar
11 Lee Jones
10 Peter Horne
9 Ali Price

1 Gregory Fichten
2 Romain Ruffenach
3 Johannes Jonker
4 Nicholaas van Rensburg
5 Konstantin Mikautadze
6 Kelian Galletier
7 Julien Bardy
8 Louis Picamoles (c)

ADV Montpellier
ADV Glasgow
EVEN
ADV Montpellier
ADV Glasgow
EVEN
ADV Montpellier
ADV Montpellier

1 Jamie Bhatti
2 Fraser Brown
3 Zander Fagerson
4 Kiran McDonald
5 Jonny Gray
6 Ryan Wilson (c)
7 Matt Smith
8 Samuela Vunisa

16 Bismarck du Plessis
17 Mikheil Nariashvili
18 Mohamed Haouas
19 Julien Delannoy
20 Fulgence Ouedraogo
21 Enzo Sanga
22 Henry Immelman
23 Timoci Nagusa

ADV Montpellier
ADV Montpellier
ADV Glasgow
EVEN
ADV Montpellier
EVEN
ADV Glasgow
ADV Glasgow

16 Pat MacArthur
17 Alex Allan
18 Siosiua Halanukonuka
19 Scott Cummings
20 Chris Fusaro
21 George Horne
22 Finn Russell
23 Niko Matawalu

Starting XV stats:

BACKS
14   Champions Cup tries   21
50   Champions Cup appearances   153
27.6   Average age   27.8
5   Capped players   7
2
   French / Scottish qualified   7

FORWARDS
885kg   Pack weight   920kg
128   Champions Cup appearances   102
26.8   Average age   25.1
4   Capped players   6
4
   French / Scottish qualified   7

Glasgow Greetings:
Kiran McDonald will make his first Champions Cup start tomorrow. It’s been a dizzying rise for the man who was playing for Hull in English National League 3 less than 8 months ago but the big lad is taking things in his (very lengthy) stride.

Matchday Milestones:
Having made his debut at Parc Y Scarlets on 21 November 2014 Ali Price will hit a half century of appearances for the Warriors on Saturday. Tommy Seymour will be making his 30th start in the Champions Cup – only Tommy Hayes (34) and Stuart Hogg (31) have made more among Glasgow backs.

Warriors One to Watch:
Setting aside the possibility of Christmas miracles the remaining matches in the Champions Cup are now about building experience for future tournaments. With that in mind this week’s one to watch is Matt Smith. The 21 year old flanker has occupied the number 7 jersey in 5 of Glasgow’s last 6 matches and seems to be seizing the opportunity to learn from experienced campaigners like Callum Gibbins and Chris Fusaro.

Matt showed at u20 level that he has a good carrying and attacking game, notching 3 tries in the 2016 Six Nations, but it’s mainly been defensive duties for him so far with Glasgow. He’s averaging 16.6 tackle attempts per 80 minutes – a figure only the other Matt (Fagerson) can top among the Warriors’ squad. Smith also has the best tackle completion rate among Glasgow’s back rows (93%). Even if qualification is now out of reach there is still a lot of value to be gained in seeing players like Matt take on the Picamoles and Crudens of this world. Hopefully the Warriors can reap the benefit in years to come…

Glasgow’s Track Record…
…against French sides in the pool stages of the European Cup:

    • 11 wins (8 at home, 3 away)
    • 2 draws (1 at home, 1 away)
    • 24 losses (10 at home, 14 away)

Key stats from last week:
The Good
7: tackles broken by Leonardo Sarto – a man who is very, very difficult to put down. Leo accounted for more than half of the defenders beaten by Glasgow as well as 4 of their clean breaks (no-one else managed more than 2). In the Italian’s absence this week Dave Rennie will be looking for the likes of Tommy Seymour and Lee Jones to sparkle in attack.

The Bad
6: lineouts lost by Glasgow. The lineout is only running at an 82% success rate this season for the Warriors but this was a particularly poor evening’s work. It’s an aspect of the game that is even more costly when you consider that a third of the team’s tries this season have started with lineouts. Scoring opportunities are likely to be at a premium against Montpellier so Glasgow cannot afford for there to be any misfires at the setpiece on Saturday.

The Ugly
20: minutes the Warriors played short-handed. Montpellier scored 14 of their points with Glasgow players in the sin bin. Another 7 arose from field position won during George Turner’s absence with the subsequent phase of play leading directly to Jonny Gray’s yellow card. Discipline had been good up until last Friday night with only 2 cards in the first 12 games of the season. If there is to be any chance of an upset in France then the Warriors almost certainly have to keep 15 men on the pitch at all times.

Home and Away:
Montpellier last 6 pool matches (H) – L W W W W L
Glasgow last 6 pool matches (A) – L L L W W L

Officials:
Referee: JP Doyle (Eng, 29th competition game)
AR1: Craig Maxwell-Keys (Eng)
AR2: Simon McConnell (Eng)
TMO: Graham Hughes (Eng)

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

Matches – 3 (118 for all refs)
Average penalty count – 20.7 (19.1 all refs)
Average penalties for Glasgow – 8.3 (9.6 all refs)
Average penalties against Glasgow – 12.3 (9.5 all refs)
Yellow cards – 3 in total (1.0 per game all refs)

Mr. Doyle is in his 8th season as a Champions Cup referee putting him into the ‘experienced’ category among match officials. He has become a near annual fixture for Glasgow in their games against French opposition in European competition. For those looking for positive omens he was the referee in charge of Glasgow’s victory in Paris against Racing 92 last year and also for the win in Montpellier 2 seasons before that (swiftly glossing over the bruising loss to Toulon at Scotstoun in 2013/14 when Mr. Doyle was again the man in the middle).

The Warriors will need to be wary though, having comfortably lost the penalty count on all 3 previous occasions they have been refereed by Mr. Doyle. Glasgow’s tighthead props have been particularly unpopular with the English official, racking up 14 penalties across 3 games. Zander Fagerson will need to adapt very quickly to whatever picture the ref is wanting him to show at scrum time!

 

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