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

KO 3.30 GMT at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Saturday 6th December 2018
Live on BBC ALBA

Having managed to avoid a trip to Italy throughout the whole of 2017 Glasgow will be first footing the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi to kick off 2018. They will return to Parma with only 5 of the 23 players who featured in their last meeting with Zebre (Lee Jones, Nick Grigg, Rob Harley, Matt Fagerson and James Malcolm). In fact 9 of the side that last tackled the stripy Italians have left the club since that game due to a high turnover among the Warriors’ backup players.

Teams

ZEBRE
15 Edoardo Padovani
14 Rory Parata
13 Giulio Bisegni
12 Tommaso Castello (c)
11 Giovanbattista Venditti
10 Carlo Canna
9 Marcello Violi
GLASGOW WARRIORS
15 Ruaridh Jackson
14 Lee Jones
13 Huw Jones
12 Nick Grigg
11 Niko Matawalu
10 Finn Russell
9 George Horne

1 Andrea Lovotti
2 Tommaso D’Apice
3 Eduardo Bello
4 David Sisi
5 George Biagi
6 Maxime Mbanda
7 Johan Meyer
8 Renato Giammarioli

1 Alex Allan
2 Pat MacArthur
3 Siua Halanukonuka
4 Greg Peterson
5 Jonny Gray
6 Robert Harley (c)
7 Chris Fusaro
8 Matt Fagerson

16 Luhandre Luus
17 Andrea De Marchi
18 Roberto Tenga
19 Valerio Bernabo
20 Derick Minnie
21 Guglielmo Palazzani
22 Maicol Azzolini
23 Ciaran Gaffney

16 James Malcolm
17 Oli Kebble
18 D’arcy Rae
19 Kiran McDonald
20 Adam Ashe
21 Henry Pyrgos
22 Peter Horne
23 Brandon Thomson

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

Glasgow Greetings:
After a season blighted by some unfortunately timed injuries (and international call-ups) Greg Peterson finally gets his first start of the campaign – and just his 3rd for the club in the last year and a half.

Matchday Milestones:
Finn Russell will play his 75th match for Glasgow. There are a couple of notable league appearances with Jonny Gray making his 50th start in the PRO14 / PRO12 / etc. and Ruaridh Jackson playing for the 100th time. Ruaridh’s first game in the competition was back on the 5th of September 2008 when it was still the Magners League – he came off the bench to replace Lome Fa’atau against the Dragons at Dave Parade. His first start was at inside centre later the same season (on 20th February 2009) against Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park.

Warriors One to Watch:
It’s definitely going to be an interesting Saturday for George Horne. He’ll get to take on one of Italy’s new breed at scrum half in the shape of Marcello Violi. Possibly even more relevant to Horne the younger’s future ambitions he will start alongside Finn Russell for the first time and really get the chance to demonstrate his credentials as competition for Ali Price and Henry Pyrgos.

Despite being a relative late-comer to the scrum half’s role, after converting from stand off, George has adapted well and has shown some good fundamentals with his speed to the ruck and a solid, zippy pass. It’s his try scoring that has really turned heads though. With just 11 appearances to his name (encompassing 317 minutes of actual playing time) he has notched up 6 tries. As OTOTM has previously noted on Twitter it took big brother Peter more than 60 games and into his 7th season at the club to bring up the same number of scores!

The Zebre v Glasgow fixture in the PRO12 era

  • 6 wins
  • 0 losses
  • 4 Try Bonus Points
  • 28 points out of a possible 30 (93%)
  • Glasgow had an identical record from their trips to the other Italian side, Benetton with 6 wins and 4 Try BPs.

Last season’s match-up:

1
Try for Leonardo Sarto – his first for Glasgow, 6 months to the day after scoring for Zebre against the Warriors! On the other wing Sean Lamont also picked up a brace. Glasgow’s wide men have been in equally prolific form so far this season with 16 of the team’s 58 tries. Zebre have some talent of their own in the back 3 but this is still likely to be the area where the Warriors find most joy in attack.

79
Percentage tackle completion by Glasgow – only the away game against the Scarlets (72%) was worse last season. The game was very loose with both sides making lots of ground and defensive coaches likely tearing their hair out! While the Warriors’ own game plan is predicated on playing fast and furious in attack, Kenny Murray will expect a bit more composure and control around the defensive effort.

139
Metres made by Nick Grigg from his 12 carries – the most by any of Glasgow’s centres in a game during 2016/17. The wee man was only making his 2nd start for the club but was almost unplayable for the Italian defenders who found his low centre of gravity and changes of direction impossible to deal with. If Nick can make the initial inroads for the Warriors on Saturday it should create a lot of space for the attacking talent outside him – and mean a long afternoon for the Zebre defence.

Home and Away:
Zebre last 6 in PRO12/14 (H) – L W L L W L
Glasgow last 6 in PRO12/14 (A) – L W W W W L

Officials:
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU, 31st competition game)
AR1: Eddie Hogan-O’Connell (IRFU)
AR2: Manuel Bottino (FIR)
Citing Commissioner: Brian MacNiece (IRFU)

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

Matches – 4 (118 for all refs)
Average penalty count – 16.3 (19.1 all refs)
Average penalties for Glasgow – 9.5 (9.6 all refs)
Average penalties against Glasgow – 6.8 (9.5 all refs)
Yellow cards – 1 in total (1.0 per game all refs)

This season Mr. Brace’s penalty count has been a little higher than the numbers above. He’s averaged 19.7 penalties in the 7 rounds of PRO14 action that he has taken charge of. He’s also been fairly liberal with the yellow cards too, sending 12 players to the sin bin so far (4 from the home teams and 8 from the away sides). Setting aside a couple of meaningless late scuffles Glasgow have only had 4 yellow cards in 16 competitive matches in this campaign and they’ll be looking to maintain that positive disciplinary record on Saturday.

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