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

KO 7.35 at Scotstoun Stadium
Friday 25th January 2019

Live on Premier Sports 1 *

  • Head to heads are fairly even for the starting XVs. Will the Warriors’ bench prove the difference?
  • Brandon Thomson could well be crucial to Glasgow’s performance and he is the Warrior to Watch.
  • The two clubs have a combined 38 players missing through injury or international duty.
  • The sides are pretty similar to those that played in the game down at the Liberty in November (when Niko Matawalu scored a hat-trick). 14 of the Glasgow 23 and 15 of their Ospreys counterparts featured in that match.

Teams

GLASGOW WARRIORS
15 Ruaridh Jackson
14 Lee Jones
13 Nick Grigg
12 Stafford McDowall
11 Niko Matawalu
10 Brandon Thomson
9 Nick Frisby
OSPREYS
15 Dan Evans
14 Hanno Dirksen
13 Johnny Kotze
12 Cory Allen
11 Luke Morgan
10 Sam Davies (c)
9 Tom Habberfield

1 Alex Allan
2 Kevin Bryce
3 Siua Halanukonuka
4 Tim Swinson
5 Scott Cummings
6 Robert Harley (c)
7 Matt Smith
8 Adam Ashe

1 Gareth Thomas
2 Scott Baldwin
3 Tom Botha
4 Lloyd Ashley
5 James King
6 Olly Cracknell
7 Sam Cross
8 Rob McCusker

16 Robbie Smith
17 Jamie Bhatti
18 D’arcy Rae
19 Tevita Tameilau
20 Thomas Gordon
21 Robbie Nairn
22 Alex Dunbar
23 Rory Hughes

16 Scott Otten
17 Rowan Jenkins
18 Gheorghe Gajion
19 Will Griffiths
20 Will Jones
21 Matthew Aubrey
22 Luke Price
23 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler

Head to Head:

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

Glasgow Greetings:

There are two potential debutants on the bench in the shape of Robbie Smith and flanker Thomas Gordon. Both of these young lads were part of the Scotland u20s squad that finished 5th in the World Rugby Championship just over 18 months ago. That group has so far produced 12 players who have made their top level debuts, 3 of whom have already won Scotland caps. More importantly Robbie and Tom turning out for Glasgow keeps the club’s ginger quota at a suitably high level!

Rory Hughes is back in Warriors’ action for the first time since a try-scoring appearance two months ago against Cardiff Blues.

Warrior to Watch:

Brandon Thomson’s previous starts for Glasgow this season have turned out pretty well for the club:

BP win away to Ospreys in the PRO14
Win at home to Scarlets in the PRO14 (while down to 14 men for an hour)
BP win at home to Cardiff Blues in the Champions Cup

Stand-in head coach, Kenny Murray will be hoping that Brandon can keep that streak of good results (and performances) against Welsh sides going on Friday night. Brandon’s goal-kicking has been on point but he’s also been able to get the dangerous players outside him – like Nick Grigg and Niko Matawalu – heavily involved in the game.

With as many as five upcoming matches impacted by the absences of Adam Hastings and Peter Horne these next couple of months will provide a great chance for Brandon to put a marker down for the Warriors’ number 10 shirt.

Glasgow at home to Ospreys in the PRO12/14 era:

  • 6 wins
  • 1 loss
  • 3 Try BPs
  • 0 Losing BPs
  • 27 points out of a possible 35 (77%)

Previous match-up:

Key stat – last season in the PRO14:

TACKLE COMPLETION
1 Ospreys – 90.5%

2 Edinburgh – 90.1%
3 Cardiff Blues – 88.9%
4 Munster – 88.8%
5 Scarlets – 88.6%
6 Leinster – 88.0%
7 Glasgow – 87.9%
8 Dragons – 87.9%
LEAGUE AVERAGE – 87.8%
9 Benetton – 87.5%
10 Ulster – 87.0%
11 Connacht – 87.0%
12 Zebre – 86.9%
13 Cheetahs – 85.4%
14 Kings – 84.5%

Something has to give here with the team that was most consistent at making their tackles in the league last season up against the team that was 2nd best at making their opponents miss!

The concern for the Warriors will be preventing their attack being stifled the way it was by that other 90%+ tackle completion side, Edinburgh. The quality of possession from the forwards and the distribution from the half-backs will be key. Get this right and Stafford McDowall and Nick Grigg can punch holes to be followed up by the back 3. If the good ball isn’t there the Ospreys defence will be swarming all over Glasgow’s backline.

Officials:

Referee: John Lacey (IRFU, 76th Championship game)
AR1: Dave Sutherland (IRFU)
AR1: Rob Sullivan (IRFU)
TMO: Charles Samson (SRU)

Mr. Lacey’s regular season record for 2017/18 in the PRO14:

Matches – 6 (all refs – 147)
Average penalty count – 17.8 per game (all refs – 19.0)
Home penalty percentage – 56% (all refs – 53%)
Average card count – 0.7 per game (all refs – 0.9)
Penalties per card – 27 (all refs – 22)

Might as well revisit what OTOTM said 2 months ago when Mr. Lacey travelled to Scotstoun to take charge of the league game against Cardiff Blues:

Glasgow have struggled to get on the right wavelength with Mr. Lacey. The Warriors averaged 11.5 penalties a game against and just 8.5 for in the 10 games he has refereed in recent seasons. Of the 9 yellow cards he dished out in those matches 8 were for Glasgow players. Hopefully those numbers can be improved upon on Friday night!

There was a slight improvement in that game against Cardiff. The penalty count was even at 11 apiece (although a couple free kicks against the Warriors tipped the advantage in favour of the visitors). No yellow cards was a definite bonus. Here’s hoping for a single figure crime count and no cards this time round!


* Other coverage:

Match re-runs on FreeSports:

  • Monday 28th January at 12.30pm

Highlights of all matches in Round 14:

  • Premier Sports 1 – Sunday 27th January at 4.00pm
  • FreeSports – no highlights programme but the PRO14 Hour is on at 10.30pm on Wednesday 30th January
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