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

KO 7.35 at Rodney Parade, Friday 9th February
Live on BBC2 Wales

Team Talk
The teams on show are almost entirely different from when these two sides last met in Newport. Just 6 of the respective starting XVs filled the same roles back in September 2016 with Alex Allan and Rob Harley the only men returning for Glasgow. All told 36 of the 46 players on show that day are missing for Friday’s clash.

Dave Rennie’s selections are mainly dictated by 6 Nations duties and injury issues. Ultimately only 3 players from the Warriors’ main squad are fit and available but not required for this encounter (Richie Vernon, Samuela Vunisa and Lewis Wynne).

Teams

DRAGONS
15 Hallam Amos
14 Adam Warren
13 Tyler Morgan
12 Jack Dixon
11 Jared Rosser
10 Zane Kirchner
9 Dan Babos
GLASGOW WARRIORS
15 Ruaridh Jackson
14 Lee Jones
13 Nick Grigg
12 Brandon Thomson
11 Ratu Tagive
10 Adam Hastings
9 George Horne

1 Sam Hobbs
2 Liam Belcher
3 Lloyd Fairbrother
4 Joe Davies
5 Rynard Landman
6 Aaron Wainwright
7 James Benjamin
8 Harri Keddie (c)

1 Alex Allan
2 James Malcolm
3 Siua Halanukonuka
4 Robert Harley (c)
5 Greg Peterson
6 Matt Fagerson
7 Chris Fusaro
8 Adam Ashe

16 Ellis Shipp
17 Gerard Ellis
18 Leon Brown
19 Henri Williams
20 Lennon Greggains
21 Sarel Pretorius
22 Gavin Henson
23 Jarryd Sage

16 Grant Stewart
17 Oli Kebble
18 D’arcy Rae
19 Kieran McDonald
20 Matt Smith
21 Henry Pyrgos
22 Paddy Kelly
23 Niko Matawalu

 

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

Glasgow Greetings:
It’s time for Ratu Tagive and Paddy Kelly’s first appearances of the season after injury-hit campaigns so far. In Ratu’s case this game will also mark his first ever start for the Warriors. Brandon Thomson will make his first start of the 2017/18 campaign.

Warriors One to Watch:
With a young squad on display for Glasgow the need for strong contributions from the (relative) veterans in the group becomes more pronounced. Chris Fusaro certainly falls into that bracket in terms of the number of games he’s played (this will be his 135th for the Warriors) but at only 28 years of age he might not appreciate the ‘veteran’ tag!

Fuzzy has found there is huge competition for places on the openside flank with Callum Gibbins and Matt Smith seeing plenty of game time. Whenever Chris has played though he’s always made a strong contribution – particularly in defence. He has the highest tackle completion rate (95%) among Glasgow’s back rows and he’ll need to be at his best to help contain the Dragons on Friday night.

The Dragons v Glasgow fixture in the PRO12 era

  • 4 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss
  • 2 Try Bonus Points + 1 Losing BP
  • 21 points out of a possible 30 (70%)
  • Glasgow had a reasonable PRO12 record in Newport – certainly much better than the Celtic/Magners League era when they only registered 2 wins in 8 attempts!

Last season’s match-up:

(Warning: highlights contain outrageous scenes of hot-stepping by a prop that may cause spontaneous punching of the air and/or uncontrollable laughter.)

4
Penalties conceded by Glasgow – their second lowest total of the season. The referee on the night was Andrew Brace (the very same man who will take charge again on Friday) and the club seemed to adapt fairly well to his interpretations at the breakdown and set piece. ‘Winning’ the penalty count by +8 (Dragons conceded 12) certainly helped the Warriors reduce the pressure on an evening when the skills were not functioning at 100%.

7
The number on the back Fraser Brown who won the Man of the Match award – not bad for a hooker playing out of position. Of course this wasn’t Fraz’s first outing at openside for Glasgow – that came in a remarkable Champions Cup game against Bath. He also featured there for most of the game against Ulster that immediately preceded the Dragons match and was down to play 7 versus Zebre the following week before an injury to Corey Flynn reshuffled Fraser back into the front row.

The Warriors have some history with all-rounders who can cover in more than just their primary position – which gives the coaches flexibility in selection and adds an interesting combination of skillsets to the squad. It’s possible that Richie Vernon (hallowed be his name) might return soon in either midfield or the back row. The backline to play the Dragons features the adaptable talents of Ruaridh Jackson and Brandon Thomson who will both have started games for the club at full back, stand off and centre. Coming off the bench wing / scrum half Niko Matawalu will bring a little bit of chaos wherever he plays.

143
Tackles made by the Warriors with only 11 missed adding up to 93% completion. The whole team had to get through a lot of defensive duties against a Dragons side that retained the ball well but lacked a bit of penetration to break the line. Glasgow’s tight 5 were particularly effective at containing the home side with the Warriors’ group making 67 tackles and missing none. It will be another tough workout at Dave Parade in Round 14.

Home and Away:
Dragons last 6 in PRO14 (H) – L W W D L L
Glasgow last 6 in PRO14 (A) – W W W W L W

Officials:
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU, 32nd competition game)
AR1: Nigel Correll (IRFU)
AR2: Dewi Phillips (WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Wayne Davies (WRU)

Mr. Brace’s record in Warriors’ fixtures from 2013 – 2017:

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 will be the second consecutive PRO14 match for Glasgow with Mr. Brace as the referee after he took charge of their game in Parma against Zebre at the start of January. The Warriors again did well on the discipline front in that fixture, winning 11 penalties while only conceding 7 to their hosts. There was also a penalty try and a yellow card for Zebre’s Carlo Canna (the 13th sin binning of the season for Mr. Brace in his 8th match as the man in the middle).

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