Need to Know: Connacht v Glasgow Warriors, PRO14 match preview 2020/21

KO 5.15
The Sportsground
Saturday 3rd October 2020
Live on Premier Sports 1

  • This will be the 4th time in the last 5 years that this fixture has been the season opener for Connacht and Glasgow.
  • 14 out of 30 players also started when these sides last played at the Sportsground in September 2018.
  • Heavyweight number 8, Matt Fagerson is the Warrior to Watch.
  • Despite both being with Glasgow for a number of seasons, this will be Huw Jones and Ratu Tagive’s first trips to the Sportsground. It’s more than 10 years since Richie Gray made his only other appearance for Glasgow away to Connacht. Hopefully they’ve all remembered to pack sunscreen, waterproofs, sunglasses and thermals!

Teams

CONNACHT
15 John Porch
14 Peter Sullivan
13 Tom Farrell
12 Bundee Aki
11 Alex Wootton
10 Jack Carty
9 Kieran Marmion
GLASGOW
15 Huw Jones
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Nick Grigg
12 Stafford McDowall
11 Robbie Nairn
10 Adam Hastings
9 Ali Price

1 Denis Buckley

2 Dave Heffernan
3 Finlay Bealham
4 Gavin Thornbury
5 Quinn Roux
6 Jarrad Butler (c)
7 Conor Oliver
8 Paul Boyle

1 Oli Kebble
2 Fraser Brown (c)
3 D’arcy Rae
4 Robert Harley
5 Scott Cummings
6 Ryan Wilson
7 Chris Fusaro
8 Matt Fagerson

16 Jonny Murphy

17 Jordan Duggan
18 Jack Aungier
19 Niall Murray
20 Sean Masterson
21 Caolin Blade
22 Conor Fitzgerald
23 Sam Arnold

16 George Turner
17 Aki Seiuli
18 Enrique Pierreto
19 Richie Gray
20 Fotu Lokotui
21 George Horne
22 Peter Horne
23 Ratu Tagive

Head to Head:

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

Matchday Milestones:

Oli Kebble and George Turner are in line to make their 50th appearances for the club. Having arrived in 2017 from, respectively, the Stormers and Edinburgh, both men have found their feet and a home at Glasgow. Oli came with a big reputation and is increasingly living up to that expectation – he will surely become a Scotland cap this Autumn. George was more of the diamond in the rough the Warriors have been so adept at finding. Unwanted and unloved in the capital he has transformed himself into a ferocious presence on the pitch and a regular part of international squads.

Warrior to Watch:

If any player is likely to break the hegemony that Edinburgh seem to have over the Scotland back row jerseys it’s Matt Fagerson. Zander’s younger brother shares his elder sibling’s fearsome appetite for work, averaging over 25 carries + tackles per 80 minutes last season.

While his weight might be secret, Matt has transformed himself into a far more heavyweight presence on the pitch while still maintaining the nimble footwork and evasiveness he displayed through Scotland age grade rugby when he was rising through the ranks. He may well be the key to the performance of the Warriors’ back row this season if they are to return to the PRO14 playoffs and challenge for qualification from the pool stages of the Champions Cup.

Glasgow away to Connacht in the PRO12/14 era:

  • 6 wins
  • 1 draw
  • 1 loss
  • 3 try BPs
  • 1 losing BP
  • 30 points out of a possible 40 (75%)
  • The Warriors also lost their playoff semi-final at the Sportsground in 2015/16.

Previous match-up at the the Sportsground:

Officials:

Referee: Craig Evans (WRU, 11th Championship appearance)
AR1: Sean Gallagher (IRFU)
AR2: Eoghan Cross (IRFU)
TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)

Mr Evans’ regular season record for 2019/20 in the PRO14:

Matches – 5 (all refs – 101)
Average penalty count – 20.4 per game (all refs – 19.1)
Home penalty percentage – 50% (all refs – 48%)
Average card count – 1.2 per game (all refs – 1.3)
Penalties per card – 17 (all refs – 15)

With officials like Ian Davies, John Lacey and David Wilkinson already having retired or moved out to the TMO booth and the likes of George Clancy and Nigel Owens reaching veteran status there’s already a new generation of refs in the PRO14 including Mike Adamson, Andrew Brace and Frank Murphy.

That means that Mr Evans is part of the new, new generation. The young Welsh whistler counts among his contemporaries Dan Jones, Joy Neville and Sean Gallagher. With the league focusing on raising standards across the board these are the refs who will need to drive the improvement and push an increasing number of Celtic officials into the top echelons for European and international matches.

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