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

KO 7.35 at Scotstoun Stadium
Friday 16th February 2018

Live on BBC ALBA

Two very different starting XVs will take to the field compared to the Warriors and the Cheetahs’ first encounter 5 months ago in Bloemfontein. The home side can only call on 4 of the men who picked up a dramatic victory in South Africa. The visitors have the services of 7 players (although only 1 of them feature in a transformed backline) who might have thought a late penalty had given them the win with just minutes to go in that game.

Teams

GLASGOW
15 Ruaridh Jackson
14 Lee Jones
13 Nick Grigg
12 Sam Johnson
11 Niko Matawalu
10 Adam Hastings
9 George Horne
CHEETAHS
15 C Blommetjies
14 Craig Barry
13 Francois Venter (c)
12 Nico Lee
11 Malcolm Jaer
10 Niel Marais
9 Shaun Venter

1 Alex Allan
2 James Malcolm
3 Siua Halanukonuka
4 Tim Swinson
5 Scott Cummings
6 Robert Harley (c)
7 Chris Fusaro
8 Matt Fagerson

1 Charles Marais
2 T Van Jaarsveld
3 Luan de Bruin
4 Justin Basson
5 Reniel Hugo
6 Henco Venter
7 Oupa Mohoje
8 Uzair Cassiem

16 Grant Stewart
17 Oli Kebble
18 D’arcy Rae
19 Matt Smith
20 Adam Ashe
21 Henry Pyrgos
22 Brandon Thomson
23 Ratu Tagive

16 Jacques Du Toit
17 Ox Nche
18 Johan Coetzee
19 Carl Wegner
20 Paul Schoeman
21 Zee Mkhabela
22 Fred Zeilinga
23 Luther Obi

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

Glasgow Greetings:
No debuts in this game but a chance to extend a warm welcome back to some players after their extended absences from Scotstoun:
– Tim Swinson (last home game 29th September 2017)
– Oli Kebble (last home game 9th September 2017)
– Ratu Tagive (last home game 4th March 2017)

Matchday Milestones:
It’s all about Rob Harley this week as he draws level with Graeme Morrison’s all-time record of 177 appearances for Glasgow. It’s been 7½ years since Big Bad Bob first strode onto the pitch for the Warriors, when he replaced fellow debutant Ryan Wilson on 51 minutes against Leinster at Firhill back on 3rd September 2010. Rob has been an incredibly consistent presence for the club and he will be big factor in Glasgow’s performance on Friday night.

Warriors One to Watch:

He may be one of those players whose contributions often go unremarked upon but Tim Swinson is still a very significant asset for Glasgow. Prior to being struck down by injury he started 8 of the Warriors’ first 10 fixtures this season, picking up with Dave Rennie where he left off with Gregor Townsend – as one of the coaches’ go to guys. Since then he’s missed 10 games for the club but with a bit of luck that means he will be fresh for the crucial final third of the campaign when things get really serious.

Previous match-up:

5
Lineouts lost by Glasgow in Bloemfontein – out of a total of 10 on their own throw-in. The Warriors have improved slightly in this facet as the season has progressed, moving from an 81% success rate in their first 6 matches up to 85% since that point. They are still prone to the occasional off night though.

Given that this area of the game has been the starting point for more Glasgow tries than any other in this campaign (22 so far) it’s vital that the forwards get the lineout right on Friday evening.

11
Turnovers conceded by the Warriors – the fewest they’ve given up in any fixture this season. A combination of a fast-paced and (on occasion) high risk game plan allied to some inaccuracy have seen Glasgow struggle to hold onto the ball at times, turning over possession more frequently than any other side in the PRO14.

Against the Cheetahs conditions dictated the approach was a little bit more deliberate and less wide-wide in order to conserve energy. There may be a balance to be struck between identifying opportunities to attack from anywhere and playing with a little bit more patience.

30
Defenders beaten by Glasgow (or tackles missed by the Cheetahs if you prefer!) The South African side have certainly demonstrated their attacking intent in their first season in the PRO14 as the top scorers in the league. Their defensive work hasn’t been quite at the same level though and only Zebre, the Dragons and the Kings have conceded more points.

In South Africa, Glasgow were able to expose some of these issues through good passing and direct running in the backs (accounting for 23 of the defenders beaten). With very attacking backlines on show for both sides the Scotstoun crowd could well be in for a treat.

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

Officials:
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU, 97th competition game)
AR1: Sean Gallagher (IRFU)
AR2: Sam Grove-White (SRU)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)

Mr. Clancy’s record in Warriors’ fixtures between 2013 and 2017:

Matches – 16* (118 for all refs)
Average penalty count – 17.8 (19.1 all refs)
Average penalties for Glasgow – 8.9 (9.6 all refs)
Average penalties against Glasgow – 8.9 (9.5 all refs)
Yellow cards – 2 in total, both for Glasgow’s opponents (1.0 per game all refs)
Red cards – 1 (for Brian Alainu’uese)

This will be Mr. Clancy’s second Warriors game of the season – he also took charge of the club’s other encounter with the Cheetahs when Glasgow travelled to Bloemfontein in Round 6. On that occasion he was way off his averages, racking up a 15 – 8 penalty count against the Warriors. Dave Rennie will be hoping home advantage for the Warriors at Scotstoun brings the Irish whistler back onto a more even keel.

One thing for both sides to be aware of is Mr. Clancy’s preference not to use the sin bin. He’s issued far fewer cards than any of the other officials Glasgow have seen regularly over the past 5 seasons. As a point of comparison Iain Davies – who is the Warriors’ second most regular ref – has brandished 21 yellow (12 for Glasgow) and 3 red cards (2 for Glasgow) in his 14 games across the same period.

* There are no stats available for Glasgow’s game away to Treviso in 2013/14 so Mr. Clancy’s penalty and card numbers are based on 15 games.

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