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

KO 7.35 at Sold Out Scotstoun Stadium
Friday 13th April 2018

Live on BBC ALBA

Glasgow are just 4 points away from securing top spot in Conference A of the PRO14. Last week’s game against Scarlets showed that no-one in the league is just going to hand the Warriors the points they need though. The home side will need to be firing on all cylinders if they want to clinch that number 1 seeding against the 2016 champions, Connacht.

                                                .

GLASGOW WARRIORS
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Alex Dunbar
12 Sam Johnson
11 DTH van der Merwe
10 Peter Horne
9 Henry Pyrgos
CONNACHT
15 Darragh Leader
14 Niyi Adeolokun
13 Bundee Aki
12 Peter Robb
11 Matt Healy
10 Jack Carty
9 Kieran Marmion

1 Alex Allan
2 Fraser Brown
3 Zander Fagerson
4 Scott Cummings
5 Jonny Gray
6 Robert Harley
7 Callum Gibbins (c)
8 Matt Fagerson

1 Denis Buckley
2 Tom McCartney
3 Finlay Bealham
4 Ultan Dillane
5 Quinn Roux
6 Eoghan Masterson
7 Jarrad Butler (c)
8 Eoin McKeon

16 Grant Stewart
17 Jamie Bhatti
18 Siua Halanukonuka
19 Kiran McDonald
20 Chris Fusaro
21 Ali Price
22 Finn Russell
23 Niko Matawalu

16 Shane Delahunt
17 Peter McCabe
18 Conor Carey
19 Gavin Thornbury
20 John Muldoon
21 Caolin Blade
22 Tom Farrell
23 Stacey Ili

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

Glasgow Greetings:
For the second week runnng it’s more of a welcome back than a greeting as Fraser Brown makes his first Warriors’ appearance of 2018 and Alex Dunbar features for the first time since the Exeter game on the 20th of January.

Matchday Milestones:
This will be Glasgow’s 15th consecutive 7,351 sell out at Scotstoun. It’s changed days from struggling to get 1,000 people to turn up at Firhill a decade or so ago! Success in growing crowd numbers brings its own issues though and getting some certainty about how the club can increase capacity must be one of the principal concerns of the Warriors’ top brass.

One to Watch:
This is traditionally a Glasgow only slot but, for one week only (and for very good reason), it’s an opposition player’s contribution that OTOTM would like to highlight. While he may never have been a Warrior, John Muldoon has certainly embodied the warrior spirit on the pitch. He’s played over 250 games in the PRO14 dating back to the 2003/04 season when it was still the Celtic League and has been one of the toughest competitors around throughout that time. This will be the Connacht legend’s 12th, and final, trip to Glasgow on league business before retiring at the end of the season:

17/12/04 – Hughenden. Played 7 v Donnie Macfadyen
04/11/05 – Hughenden. Played 6 v Paul Dearlove
03/11/06 – Hughenden. Played 6 v Andy Wilson
05/10/07 – Firhill. Sub (opposite number would have been Richie Vernon)
15/05/09 – Firhill. Played 6 v James Eddie
23/10/09 – Firhill. Played 8 v Johnnie Beattie
05/05/12 – Firhill. Played 6 v Robert Harley
09/02/14 – Scotstoun. Played 6 v Robert Harley
26/09/14 – Scotstoun. Played 6 v Robert Harley
11/09/15 – Scotstoun. Played 6 v Robert Harley
25/03/17 – Scotstoun. Played 8 v Adam Ashe

To turn this back to more of a Warriors’ angle he’s yet to taste victory in Glasgow. There have been some agonisingly close calls though – just 2 points in it in 2013/14 and single point defeats in 2007/08 and 2015/16. Hopefully Scotstoun will rise to acclaim John Muldoon’s mighty effort over the past 15 years (but hopefully while also celebrating another Warriors’ victory!)

The Glasgow v Connacht fixture in the PRO12 era:

  • 6 wins
  • 3 Try BPs
  • 27 points out of a possible 30 (90%)

Last season’s match-up:

8
Defenders beaten by Glasgow’s scrum halves, Ali Price and George Horne. Both 9s found success taking on the Connacht defence around the fringes of the setpiece in particular. This season the scrum halves’ most crucial role for the Warriors is running good support lines and they have been a vital element in Glasgow’s free-scoring ways. After Henry Pyrgos’ 5-pointer last Saturday the 9s have either scored or assisted on 34 of the Warriors 90 tries in this campaign.

311
Passes made by Connacht – the most (by some distance) by any team Glasgow faced last season. The Westies also added 34 offloads and showed an incredible willingness to try and keep the ball alive until the Warriors ran out of defenders. It’s hard graft playing without the ball and Dave Rennie will be hoping the addition of breakdown / turnover specialists Fraser Brown and Alex Dunbar to this week’s lineup will allow Glasgow to put more pressure on Connacht’s attack.

15
Percent possession for Glasgow in the first half. Quite simply due to Connacht’s pass everything tactic (and remarkably few handling errors) the Warriors barely touched the ball in the opening period. When they did the home side looked very dangerous and that allowed them to go in at the break only 2 points down despite being starved of possession.

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

Officials:
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU, 13th competition game)
AR1: David Wilkinson (IRFU)
AR2: Jonny Erskine (IRFU)
TMO: Simon McDowell (IRFU)

This will be the third time Mr. Murphy has refereed Glasgow this season and the fourth time overall. The Warriors lost the penalty count on their trips to Wales last season v Ospreys (5 won v 7 conceded) and this season v Cardiff Blues (7 v 9). They won the penalty count and saw Simon Berghan red carded after 5 minutes in a game at Murrayfield that for some strange reason OTOTM has absolutely no recollection of…

This will be the first time that Mr. Murphy has reffed Glasgow in a game featuring Connacht – a club the Irish whistler played for over 100 times until his retirement in 2014. The PRO14 appear keen to be making the point that no matter where referees originate from once they become match officials they are strictly neutral.

 

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