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

KO 6.05 at Kingspan Stadium
Saturday 21st April 2018
Live on BBC2 Scotland

The equivalent fixture fell in the 6 Nations window last season meaning much changed teams this time round. Just 6 of the Warriors’ matchday 23 from last year return and only Alex Allan, Scott Cummings and Rob Harley were starters on the club’s last trip to Belfast. Ulster have 10 players who featured in that previous encounter with Louis Ludik, Luke Marshall and Sean Reidy the men from the home side to start both games.

15 Charles Piutau
14 Louis Ludik
13 Luke Marshall
12 Stuart McCloskey
11 Jacob Stockdale
10 Johnny McPhillips
9 John Cooney
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Huw Jones
12 Alex Dunbar
11 Lelia Masaga
10 Finn Russell
9 Ali Price

1 Andrew Warwick
2 Rob Herring
3 Ross Kane
4 Alan O’Connor
5 Iain Henderson (c)
6 Nick Timoney
7 Sean Reidy
8 Jean Deysel

1 Alex Allan
2 Fraser Brown
3 Siua Halanukonuka
4 Tim Swinson
5 Scott Cummings
6 Robert Harley
7 Callum Gibbins (c)
8 Matt Fagerson

16 Rory Best
17 Kyle McCall
18 Tom O’Toole
19 Kieran Treadwell
20 Clive Ross
21 Paul Marshall
22 Angus Curtis
23 Tommy Bowe

16 George Turner
17 Ryan Grant
18 Zander Fagerson
19 Greg Peterson
20 Matt Smith
21 Henry Pyrgos
22 Peter Horne
23 Nick Grigg

Head to Head:
Back 3EVEN
CentresADV Glasgow
Half BacksADV Glasgow
Front RowEVEN
Second RowEVEN
Back RowADV Glasgow
SubsADV Ulster

Glasgow Greetings:
Ryan Grant features for the first time since the Ospreys game on 26th November. The last time Huw Jones pulled on the Warriors’ shirt in anger was against Exeter just over 3 months ago.

Matchday Milestones:
When he comes off the bench Zander Fagerson will be playing the 50th PRO14 game of his career – at just 22 years of age!

Warriors One to Watch:
A very adaptable presence in the midfield, Alex Dunbar’s ability to switch seamlessly between 12 and 13 has allowed Glasgow’s other centre options to flourish. Whether he’s playing outside a second distributor like Pete Horne or Sam Johnson or moving inside to allow the pace of Huw Jones or the cannonball stylings of Nick Grigg to have free reign Eck always makes a big contribution.

The former Selkirk man is the most likely to choose to carry the ball among the the Warriors’ centres, taking that option 67% of the time. He’ll generally win the hard yards and set up the phases (and quick ball) that Glasgow can really attack from. Alex is also the backline’s defensive leader and with much of Ulster’s strength in their midfield and back 3 he’ll need to be on top of his game to contain the home side’s firepower.

The Ulster v Glasgow fixture in the PRO12 era:

  • 1 win
  • 5 losses
  • 1 losing bonus point
  • 5 points out of a possible 30 (17%)
  • It may have been the venue for the greatest day in the club’s history – the PRO12 Grand Final win in 2015 – but the Kingspan / Ravenhill has not been a happy hunting ground on regular league duty. Four out of six attempts have seen the Warriors return home completely empty-handed. No other away trip produced as few points in the PRO12 era.

Last season’s match-up:

Tackles attempted by Nick Grigg at inside centre. The Glasgow midfield was in danger of being overrun by an Ulster backline that had a surfeit of quick ball. Adding the powerful Stuart McCloskey to the mix means that the home side will not be any easier to deal with this time round.

Combined number of defenders beaten (or tackles missed if you’re a glass half empty sort!) by the two sides – 23 by Glasgow and 31 by Ulster. It certainly wasn’t a game the defence coaches will look back on with any fondness but it was an entertaining contest for the neutral. Given the talent in both backlines this weekend’s fixture has the potential to be a real humdinger.

Percentage possession in the first half for Glasgow. In common with a number of the games played during the Test windows last season the team started out well, had plenty of ball and made plenty of ground. Equally though, like those other games, little inaccuracies stopped them from turning those positives into points and the Warriors will need to be much more efficient on Saturday evening.

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

Referee: Stuart Berry (SARU, 12th competition game)
AR1: Nigel Cordell (IRFU)
AR2: Helen O’Reilly (IRFU)
TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)

This will be just the second outing for Mr. Berry in a Warriors’ match after taking charge of the game at Scotstoun against Leinster in November. The South African whistler hammered Glasgow a bit in the penalty count on that occasion – the 15 they conceded are the most so far this season. Mr. Berry also yellow carded Scott Cummings and Alex Dunbar after the Warriors had managed to make it through the first 9 matches of the season without a single sin binning.

Mr. Berry’s rate of 19.8 penalties per game is slightly above the league average of 19.1.

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