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

KO 7.35 at Scotstoun Stadium
Friday 23rd March
No TV coverage – get tickets here

This will be just the second home PRO14 match of 2018 for Glasgow and there will only be one more in the current regular season. Scheduling around the Champions Cup and 6 Nations is tricky but hopefully next season the league can avoid front-loading Warriors’ home games into the first half of the campaign and provide a more even distribution. It should mean a rowdy reception for the team though – after all absence does make the heart grow fonder…

On the pitch only 10 of 30 players started the same match last season – 6 for Glasgow and 4 for Zebre. The Italians’ answer to Niko Matawalu – Guglielmo Palazzani – started at full back on his last trip to Scotstoun but will captain his side from scrum half this time around.


15 Ruaridh Jackson
14 Lee Jones
13 Nick Grigg
12 Sam Johnson
11 DTH van der Merwe
10 Adam Hastings
9 Henry Pyrgos
15 Edoardo Padovani
14 Gabriele Di Giulio
13 Serafin Bordoli
12 Faialaga Afamasaga
11 G. Venditti
10 Carlo Canna
9 G. Palazzani (c)

1 Oli Kebble
2 George Turner
3 Zander Fagerson
4 Tim Swinson
5 Scott Cummings
6 Robert Harley
7 Callum Gibbins (c)
8 Matt Fagerson

1 Cruze Ah-Nau
2 Oliviero Fabiani
3 Eduardo Bello
4 David Sisi
5 Leonard Krumov
6 Derick Minnie
7 Johan Meyer
8 James Tucker

16 Grant Stewart
17 Jamie Bhatti
18 Siua Halanukonuka
19 Kiran McDonald
20 Chris Fusaro
21 George Horne
22 Peter Horne
23 Lelia Masaga

16 Tommaso D’Apice
17 Andrea De Marchi
18 Roberto Tenga
19 Valerio Bernabo
20 Jacopo Sarto
21 Riccardo Raffaele
22 Maicol Azzolini
23 Rory Parata

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

Glasgow Greetings:
So what do you call it when a player makes his first appearance for a club after returning for a second spell? This season Ruaridh Jackson and Niko Matawalu have followed in the footsteps of the likes of Richie Vernon and Rory and Sean Lamont in coming back to the Warriors. With Daniel Tailliferre Hauman van der Merwe in line to play once more for Glasgow this is officially a thing and needs an appropriate designation. Is it re-debut (or rebut)? Second debut (or sebut)? Debut-ja vu? DTH will be the 54th different player to feature for Glasgow this season.

Matchday Milestones:
Iron man Ruaridh Jackson will make his 20th start of the campaign. Surprisingly few players have managed this feat for Glasgow in the past five seasons – Rob Harley (twice), Josh Strauss (twice), Peter Horne, Leone Nakarawa and Tommy Seymour.

Warriors One to Watch:
DTH is not the only player making a welcome return to Scotstoun on Friday night. Zander Fagerson, Lelia Masaga and Callum Gibbins will all be playing their first home match of 2018 and Captain Cully is the One to Watch this time round. The former mulletman hammered out some storming performances for Glasgow before injury intervened in December. A threat on both sides of the ball with his intelligent support play in attack and percussive hitting in defence the former Hurricane will set the tone for the Warriors’ forward pack against Zebre.

The Glasgow v Zebre fixture in the PRO12 era

  • 6 wins
  • 4 Try BPs
  • 28 points out of a possible 30 (93%)

Last season’s match-up:

Total kicks from hand in the game – the fewest in any match involving the Warriors last season. The home side were keen to keep the ball in hand and trust their attack to break down a stubborn Zebre defence. The visitors played their part as well and have looked increasingly comfortable in possession over the past couple of years.

Defenders beaten by Glasgow’s centre pairing of Sam Johnson and Nick Grigg – 6 each. Both men pick great lines and when added to good footwork plus strength (and a very low centre of gravity in Squiggsy’s case!) they are very difficult to contain. If the forwards can provide quality ball then the Warriors’ midfielders are likely to be equally dangerous on Friday night.

Metres gained by Matt Fagerson with ball in hand – the most by any Warriors’ number 8 in a single game during 2016/17. Matt may only have been 18 years old and still on an Academy contract but his first home start made it quite clear to anyone watching that here was a talent that could comfortably mix it with experienced, full-time pros. Zander’s wee brother has gone from strength to strength in the current season and a first full Scotland cap is surely just a matter of time.

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

Referee: Craig Evans (WRU, 2nd competition game)
AR1: Ian Davies (WRU)
AR2: Adam Jones (WRU)

Mr. Evans is a Warriors’ virgin – so be gentle with him! He made his PRO14 debut earlier this season when Cardiff Blues hosted Connacht. A combined penalty count of 26 (12 for the home side and 14 for the visitors) plus 1 yellow card for each team suggest that, like most refs just starting out, he is likely to be quick on the whistle. The early breakdowns in this game are likely to be tricky as both sides try to test out what the rookie ref will allow. Not to make anyone feel old but Mr. Evans is just 26 years of age…

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