Need to Know: Connacht v Glasgow Warriors, PRO14 Match Preview 2018/19

KO 3.00 at the Sportsground
Saturday 1st September 2018

Live on Premier Sports 1 *

For the third season running Glasgow will kick off their PRO14 campaign against Connacht at the Sportsground. After glorious sunshine in 2016 and sideways rain in 2017 it’s anybody’s guess as to what the Galway weather will hold!

Across the 17 seasons of the PRO14 / PRO12 / Celtic League only 2 teams (Leinster 2012/13 and Scarlets 2016/17) have lost their opening match and gone on to win the Championship that year – Glasgow and Connacht will both be desperate to start with a victory on Saturday.

Teams

CONNACHT
15 Tiernan O’Halloran
14 Cian Kelleher
13 Kyle Godwin
12 Tom Farrell
11 Matt Healy
10 Jack Carty
9 Caolin Blade
WARRIORS
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Nick Grigg
12 Peter Horne
11 DTH van der Metwe
10 Adam Hastings
9 George Horne

1 Denis Buckley
2 Dave Heffernan
3 Finlay Bealham
4 Ultan Dillane
5 James Cannon
6 Paul Boyle
7 Jarrad Butler (c)
8 Eoin McKeon

1 Oli Kebble
2 George Turner
3 Zander Fagerson
4 Jonny Gray
5 Scott Cummings
6 Robert Harley
7 Callum Gibbins (cc)
8 Ryan Wilson (cc)

16 Shane Delahunt
17 Peter McCabe
18 Conor Carey
19 Quinn Roux
20 Cillian Gallagher
21 James Mitchell
22 Craig Ronaldson
23 Niyi Adeolokun

16 Fraser Brown
17 Alex Allan
18 D’arcy Rae
19 Adam Ashe
20 Chris Fusaro
21 Nick Frisby
22 Alex Dunbar
23 Niko Matawalu

Head to Head:

Back 3 – ADV Glasgow
Centres – EVEN
Half Backs – EVEN
Front Row – ADV Connacht
Second Row – EVEN
Back Row – ADV Glasgow
Subs – ADV Glasgow

Glasgow Greetings:

With plenty of familiar faces in the ranks there’s only one player in line for his debut – Nick Frisby. The Australian scrum-half will become Warrior number 296 when he gets onto the pitch on Saturday.

Warriors One to Watch:

Someone who really ought to be looking forward to this fixture is Tommy Seymour who has scored or assisted on Glasgow’s first try of the campaign each of the last 4 times he has played in the season opener. (In 2017/18 he also crossed the whitewash in his first match after a delayed start due to rest protocols following his Lions’ adventures.)

First Warriors’ try of the season:
2017/18 – Ali Price (v Connacht) – late start for Tommy after Lions
2016/17 – Tommy Seymour (v Connacht)
2015/16 – Mike Cusack (v Scarlets) – Tommy on RWC duty
2014/15 – Peter Horne assisted by Tommy Seymour (v Leinster)
2013/14 – Tommy Seymour (v Cardiff Blues)
2012/13 – Tommy Seymour (v Ulster)

Glasgow away to Connacht in the PRO12/14 era:

  • 5 wins
  • 1 draw
  • 1 loss
  • 2 Try BPs + 1 Losing BP
  • 25 points out of a possible 35 (71%)
  • The Warriors also lost their playoff semi-final at the Sportsground in 2015/16

Previous match-up:

Last season in the PRO14:

ATTACK
189 (1st)   Passes per game   159 (6th)
League average – 155

There was a lot of huff and puff for Connacht but even with all that movement of the ball they were in the bottom 4 for Clean Breaks while Glasgow were far more efficient as top dogs in this category. To be fair though Connacht’s handling is very consistent and they can hang onto possession for extended periods, making their opposition’s life very tricky. The Westies only turned the ball over 13 times per game last season (Glasgow were the worst in the league for this, coughing up possession 17 times each match…)

DEFENCE
140 (11th)   Tackles attempted per game   147 (7th)
League average – 149

The corollary of Connacht spending a lot of time in possession is fewer tackles – which they will hope means fewer opportunities to break down their defence. It doesn’t always work that way though and 2017/18’s last placed finishers in each pool had completely contrasting records in this facet of the game. Bottom of Conference A Kings attempted the most tackles (170) whereas bottom of Conference A Zebre attempted the fewest (132). Just keeping the tackle count down isn’t enough – tackles have to be made and they have to be effective.

SETPIECE
91.4% (9th)   Scrum success (own ball)   94.7% (3rd)
League average – 91.8%

The Glasgow scrum creaked at times but by prioritising getting possession into the hands of their dangerous backs they were able to minimise any damage. Connacht won 2% more ball on their opponents put-in than the Warriors. Dave Rennie will be keen to see his side reduce the impact of the scrum by reducing their error count – Glasgow faced 182 scrums on the opposition put-in across the regular season, 20 more than any other side in the league and 58 more than Connacht.

Officials:

Referee: Ian Davies (WRU, 73rd Championship game)
AR1: Adam Jones (WRU)
AR1: Eddie Hogan-O’Connell (IRFU)
TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)

Mr. Davies’ record last season in the PRO14:

Matches – 8 (all refs – 147)
Average penalty count – 16.5 per game (all refs – 19.0)
Home penalty percentage – 57% (all refs – 53%)
Average card count – 0.5 per game (all refs – 0.9)
Penalties per card – 33 (all refs – 22)

Mr. Davies had the biggest differential between penalties per card for home and away teams last season. Visitors averaged 25 offences per card compared to 57 for their hosts.

The away clash with the Ospreys was the only time in the last campaign that Glasgow had a match with Mr. Davies in charge. Things went pretty well that time but that doesn’t really reflect the Warriors’ recent history with the Welsh whistler. In the 10 matches before that he issued 10 yellow and 2 red cards to Glasgow players and awarded 3 penalty tries against the club too boot.

Four matches in that run were against Connacht and saw the Warriors cop 2 yellows, 2 reds and a penalty try. Saturday’s match-up at the Sportsground will be a real test for the co-captains and their ability to keep the ref happy.


* There’s also a re-run of the match on FreeSports on Wednesday 5th September at 8.30am. Highlights of all the matches in Round 1 will be on Premier Sports 1 on Sunday 2nd September at 3.00pm and then repeated on Freesports on Monday 3rd September – the first part at 6.30pm and the second part at 9.45pm.

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