Match Preview: Glasgow Warriors vs. Ulster Rugby

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Match Preview: Glasgow Warriors vs. Ulster Rugby

Post by ADM »

[tag=image] ... _badge.png[/tag][tag=content]Time for our first big test of the season.

With all due respect to the Dragons and Treviso they will not cause too many problems to the top teams in this league, and the Scarlets came to Belfast last week with several injuries so we were always going to be favourites, especially at home. 12 points from our opening three games was the bare minimum - 13 is pretty good all things considered.

But in those games we were afforded the luxury at times of being able to drop our performance levels and regroup, particularly around the 60 minute mark as we tend to do so often. This week, in Glasgow, we will definitely not be able to take any breaks during the game - if we want to win for the first time in Scotstoun it will need to be an 80 minute effort.

The Warriors are aptly named, they give you a battering for the whole game. It's not surprising given their squad is more or less the Scottish national team, but on top of that their overseas acquisitions have made a real difference too - Sila Puafisi is an excellent scrummaging tighthead prop, Leonardo Sarto is a world class winger and Tjiuee Uanivi is being tasked with replicating the kind of impact Leone Nakarawa had on the Warriors.

Just take their win over Leinster as an example of their ability to turn a game in their favour. Tommy Seymour's intercept was what allowed them to take complete control and in the end they managed to deny Leinster anything from the game. Much like Saracens they are able to keep in touch with teams until the 60th minute and then seize control and go on to win.

Will our record there affect us? Possibly. It's hard to tell what not winning at a particular stadium can do to a team's psyche, but it certainly can't help, especially when you have the disappointing semi-final defeat from 2015 hanging over you. That's the closest we've ever been to winning a domestic match at Scotstoun, and arguably we should have.

But tomorrow could be different. They're weakened by injuries to their pack. We have Jared Payne and Rory Best back to bolster our ranks. That doesn't guarantee us victory, but it certainly bodes well for us that we are coming up against a side minus some of their front line stars, particularly in the back row.

If we can overlook our poor record in Glasgow then this is one of our best chances to take four points off a play-off rival, and away from home too. With the Warriors still adjusting to a new pitch, and ourselves somewhat used to it given we train on an artificial surface, if we get off to a flying start and then keep up our intensity for the whole game then this is a great chance for a win.

Still, you'd take a losing bonus point if it was offered to you.

The stats
Glasgow Warriors have won their last nine home games at Scotstoun in the Guinness PRO12 since Scarlets won there on the opening round last season.

This represents their only defeat at the venue in the Championship since November 2013.

Ulster’s only loss in their last eight Guinness PRO12 encounters came in last season’s semi-final to Leinster at the RDS Arena.

The Ulstermen have not lost a regular season away game in the Championship since they last visited Scotstoun on 25 March.

Warriors have lost just one of their last four fixtures with Ulster: 10-13 in Belfast last February, whilst Ulster’s most recent victory in Glasgow in the Guinness PRO12 was at Firhill in March 2011.

The teams
Gregor Townsend makes eight changes to his side that lost to Cardiff last weekend, including an almost completely changed back line in which Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour are the only two survivors. Italian winger Leonardo Sarto is recalled to the back three while Mark Bennett and Alex Dunbar form a new centre partnership. Finn Russell makes his long awaited return from injury at flyhalf with Henry Pyrgos assuming the co-captaincy at scrum-half beside him. Up front Greg Peterson comes in for Tim Swinson at lock while there are first starts for Tjiuee Uanivi and Lewis Wynne in the back row.

Six changes for Ulster including the returns of Jared Payne and Rory Best from international duty. Payne slots straight back into the team at full-back with Charles Piutau shifting onto the wing to accommodate him, while Best is named on the bench. Darren Cave also comes into the back line in place of Stuart Olding at outside centre. Up front Andy Warwick comes into the front row at loosehead prop while Franco van der Merwe returns to the line-up in place of Pete Browne. Iain Henderson and Roger Wilson are both recalled to the back row.

Glasgow Warriors vs. Ulster Rugby
Friday 23rd September, 19:35
Scotstoun Stadium
Guinness PRO12 - Round 4

Live on BBC2 Northern Ireland and BBC2 Scotland

15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Leonardo Sarto, 13. Mark Bennett, 12. Alex Dunbar, 11. Tommy Seymour, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Henry Pyrgos (co-capt.); 1. Gordon Reid, 2. Fraser Brown, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Greg Peterson, 5. Jonny Gray (co-capt.), 6. Tjiuee Uanivi, 7. Lewis Wynne, 8. Ryan Wilson.

Replacements: 16. Pat MacArthur, 17. Alex Allan, 18. Sila Puafisi, 19. Sam Thomson, 20. Matt Fagerson, 21. Ali Price, 22. Nick Grigg, 23. Rory Hughes.

15. Jared Payne, 14. Louis Ludik, 13. Darren Cave, 12. Stuart McCloskey, 11. Charles Piutau, 10. Paddy Jackson, 9. Ruan Pienaar; 1. Andy Warwick, 2. Rob Herring (capt.), 3. Rodney Ah You, 4. Alan O'Connor, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 6. Iain Henderson, 7. Sean Reidy, 8. Roger Wilson.

Replacements: 16. Rory Best, 17. Callum Black, 18. Ross Kane, 19. Pete Browne, 20. Clive Ross, 21. Paul Marshall, 22. Stuart Olding, 23. Rob Lyttle.

Referee: Ian Davies (WRU, 51st competition game)
Assistant Referees: Sean Brickell (WRU), Cammy Rudkin (SRU)
Citing Commissioner: Douglas Hunter (SRU)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (SRU)[/tag]
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