Need to Know: Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors, PRO14 match preview 2018/19

KO 7.35pm
Liberty Stadium
Friday 2nd November 2018
Live on Premier Sports 2 *

  • Ospreys have won 9 league matches in a row at the Liberty Stadium since losing 47-6 to Glasgow in November last year.
  • 13 Warriors and 9 Ospreys have been held back for duty down the road in Cardiff the day after this game for Wales v Scotland. Taking into account injured players plus other international commitments there are 40 men unavailable for this fixture.
  • 11 capped players in the 23 for Glasgow – the fewest in any squad this season.


15 Dan Evans
14 Hanno Dirksen
13 Cory Allen
12 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler
11 Keelan Giles
10 Sam Davies
9 Tom Habberfield
15 Ruaridh Jackson
14 DTH van der Merwe
13 Nick Grigg
12 Stafford McDowall
11 Rory Hughes
10 Brandon Thomson
9 Nick Frisby

1 Rhodri Jones
2 Scott Otten
3 Ma’afu Fia
4 Lloyd Ashley
5 James King
6 Olly Cracknell (c)
7 Will Jones
8 Rob McCusker

1 Oli Kebble
2 George Turner
3 D’arcy Rae
4 Robert Harley
5 Scott Cummings
6 Adam Ashe
7 Callum Gibbins (c)
8 Tevita Tameilau

16 Sam Parry
17 Gareth Thomas
18 Tom Botha
19 James Ratti
20 Guido Volpi
21 Matthew Aubrey
22 James Hook
23 Tom Williams

16 Grant Stewart
17 Jamie Bhatti
18 Adam Nicol
19 Kiran McDonald
20 Matt Smith
21 Bruce Flockhart
22 Paddy Kelly
23 Niko Matawalu

Head to Head:

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

Glasgow Greetings:

Bruce Flockhart will be the sixth debutant of the season so far and Warrior number 301 when he comes off the bench on Saturday. There’s a first start for Stafford McDowall and first appearances of the season for fellow Ayr centre Paddy Kelly and lock Kiran McDonald.

Matchday Milestones:

With no significant numbers kicking about this week it’s more about the prospective milestones. DTH van der Merwe needs just one more try to draw level with Tim Visser as second all-time on the PRO14’s top try scorers’ list (Visser is on 58 with Tommy Bowe at number one on 67).

Niko Matawalu will play his 99th game for the club, meaning he’ll become a Warrior Centurion the next time he turns out for Glasgow. Of the 43 men who have racked up 100 appearances for the Warriors, Niko will be just the fourth non-Scot after Tommy Hayes, Kevin Tkachuk and DTH van der Merwe.

Warrior to Watch:

Ahead of last week’s game against Munster, Stafford McDowall was just travelling the squad in case of emergencies. Shortly before kick-off he was on the bench. Within 22 minutes of the match starting he was on at inside centre. By the end of the game he was in the unfamiliar territory of playing on the wing!

The most recent captain of Scotland u20s handled it all with the kind of style that suggests there is a big future ahead of the young midfielder. Three of his contemporaries from the record-breaking 2017 World Rugby u20 Championship side are in the full Scotland squad this weekend (Matt Fagerson, Darcy Graham and Blair Kinghorn). The man from Ayr certainly looks like he has the potential to follow in their footsteps.

Stafford is one of nine players from the 2017 u20s who have already made their top tier debuts in the PRO14 or Premiership. As the only one of that group who is still on an academy deal he will surely sign his first professional contract some time in the next six months or so. Until then the game versus the Ospreys (where 6’4″ Stafford will form a classic little and large pairing with 5’9″ nick Grigg in the centres for Glasgow) provides him with another chance to set down another marker for the progress he continues to make.

Glasgow away to Ospreys in the PRO12/14 era:

  • 4 wins
  • 1 draw
  • 2 losses
  • 1 try BP
  • This is the sixth time in seven seasons that this fixture has been impacted by a Test window – only in 2014/15 did both clubs have full squads to select from.

Previous match-up:

Extended highlights but last season’s fixture was so entertainingly bonkers that it’s definitely worth watching the whole thing if you have 11.5 minutes to spare!

Key stat – last season in the PRO14:

1. Cheetahs – 91.2%
2. Ospreys – 91.1%
3. Scarlets – 90.7%
4. Cardiff Blues – 90.2%
5. Leinster – 90.1%
6. Edinburgh – 89.7%
7. Munster – 88.6%
8. Benetton – 88.1%
League average 87.9%
9. Dragons – 87.2%
10. Ulster – 86.9%
11. Glasgow – 86.9%
12. Kings – 85.8%
13. Connacht – 84.4%
14. Zebre – 80.2%

The lineout was a primary source of scoring possessions for Glasgow last year. They picked up more than 30 tries from their own throw-in during the PRO14 campaign. This will only make it all the more galling for Dave Rennie that his side lost so many on their own throw – 36 in total. On the flip side the Warriors were among the better lineout thieves during 2017/18, nicking 34 from the opposition to leave them with a net loss of just 2 possessions.

Glasgow will be up against one of the best setpiece outfits from last season. It is a team lacking their top 3 locks though and 6’5″ Lloyd Ashley and 6’4″ James King are not the tallest second row pairing around. Welsh sides do like to use smaller, lighter players to lift though so this may not necessarily be a disadvantage for the home team.

Both teams will want to attack off first phase so the battle for control in the air at the lineout could be crucial.


Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU, 40th Championship game)
AR1: Kieran Barry (IRFU)
AR2: Craig Evans (WRU)
TMO: Jon Mason (WRU)

Mr. Brace’s record last season in the PRO14:

Matches – 12 (all refs – 147)
Average penalty count – 18.1 per game (all refs – 19.0)
Home penalty percentage – 54% (all refs – 53%)
Average card count – 1.2 per game (all refs – 0.9)
Penalties per card – 16.1 (all refs – 22)

Apparently Mr. Brace has already taken charge of a Warriors’ match this season. Something about the Kings maybe? In South Africa? OTOTM has no memory of such a game taking place. If anyone does – maybe keep it to yourself please…

The Irish whistler was very liberal with the yellows last season with a penalties per card count that was the lowest of the regular faces among PRO14 officials. He has little tolerance for bad behaviour and it was the visiting sides that got the worst of his wrath, copping 9 of the 14 sin bins that he dished out.

Gregor Townsend and his performance analysis pixies will be interested spectators with Mr. Brace slated to take charge of Scotland v Fiji next week. His tendencies will be pored over in detail to see if the dark blues can find a way to adapt to his interpretations and gain a competitive advantage before the match has even begun.

* Other coverage:
Match re-runs on FreeSports:

  • None this week so Premier Sports / Premier Player is required if you want to catch all the action

Highlights of all matches in Round 8:

  • Premier Sports 1 – Sunday 28th October at 3.00pm
  • FreeSports – Monday 29th October at 7.30pm

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