Munster, the Magners League leaders, will gun for their sixth straight win in all competitions tonight when they visit Firhill to take on an out-of-sorts Glasgow side. Despite the difference in the teams’ positions in the table, Munster have to be on their toes to beat a side that ran them to eight points in the opening game at Thomond Park Stadium in October.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, March 27
GLASGOW WARRIORS (8th) v MUNSTER (1st), Firhill Arena, 7.45pm (live Setanta Sports Ireland)
Team News: Mick O’Driscoll will lead Munster against Glasgow Warriors at Firhill on Friday, while Peter Stringer will start at scrum half with Tomas O’Leary providing cover on the replacements bench.
Although named in the extended squad released on Wednesday, Ian Dowling has not made the Munster matchday 22 but Barry Murphy has, having recovered from the shoulder injury that ruled him out for the past number of weeks.
Encouragingly though, Dowling took a full part in training on Wednesday and is expected to be fit for consideration for the forthcoming Magners League game against Leinster.
Meanwhile, flanker James Eddie and winger Lome Fa’atau will return to the Glasgow Warriors starting line-up for Friday’s encounter with the European champions.
Eddie will make only his fourth appearance of the season having been forced out in the early part due to a shoulder injury and latterly due to knee ligament damage.
Samoan international flyer Fa’atau is also back in the side, having recovered sufficiently from a shin bone injury which sidelined him for three-and-a-half months. He replaces Hefin O’Hare – who is on Scotland Sevens duty at the IRB Sevens World Series event in Hong Kong – on the right wing.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Bernardo Stortoni; Lome Fa’atau, Max Evans, Ruaridh Jackson, Thom Evans; Dan Parks, Mark McMillan; Justin Va’a, Fergus Thomson, Moray Low, Tim Barker, Alastair Kellock (capt), James Eddie, Kelly Brown, Johnnie Beattie.
Replacements: Dougie Hall, Kevin Tkachuk, Dan Turner, Calum Forrester, Colin Gregor, Jose Maria Nunez Piossek, Peter Horne.
MUNSTER: Denis Hurley; Doug Howlett, Keith Earls, Lifeimi Mafi, Barry Murphy; Paul Warwick, Peter Stringer; Federico Pucciariello, Denis Fogarty, Tony Buckley, Mick O’Driscoll (capt), Donnacha Ryan, Alan Quinlan, Niall Ronan, James Coughlan.
Replacements: Michael Essex, Darragh Hurley, Billy Holland, Tommy O’Donnell, Tomas O’Leary, Jeremy Manning, Kieran Lewis.
Referee: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Assistant Referees: John Steele, Pete Carruthers (both Scotland)
Television Match Official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Glasgow Warriors to win: 5/4; Draw: 20/1; Munster to win: 8/13
Say What: Sean Lineen (Glasgow Warriors) – “There’s no better game to focus the mind than facing the current Magners League leaders and the European champions at home.
“It’s a massive opportunity to get back to winning ways at home and the supporters will play a huge part in helping them achieve that.”
Tony McGahan (Munster) – “Obviously we have to be happy where we are in terms of league position as the competition restarts after the Six Nations. The squad have worked extremely hard, applied themselves well.
“However, we recognise how difficult a fixture this is. Glasgow haven’t been beaten at Firhill by an Irish side in almost two years and that sort of form gives a side huge confidence.
“They have almost all their internationals back and there has never been much between us in recent times.”
“Our relative league positions won’t be a factor on Friday. They (Glasgow) are only one win off fourth spot.
“That’s how competitive the Magners League is and with Leinster to follow in this competition and then Ospreys a week later in the Heineken Cup, our performance on Friday is going to be hugely significant in terms of both those competitions.
“Obviously the break (for the Six Nations) makes it difficult but it’s the same for them as well so it’s a matter of adjusting quickly, players getting back into the tempo of game-time and taking the opportunites when they present themselves.”
Top Scorers: 2008/09 Magners League – Points: Glasgow Warriors: Dan Parks 108; Munster: Paul Warwick 67; Tries: Glasgow Warriors: Thom Evans 6; Munster: Doug Howlett 6
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Saturday, February 18, 2006 – Munster 20 Glasgow Warriors 26, Thomond Park
Friday, September 15, 2006 – Glasgow Warriors 24 Munster 13, Hughenden
Saturday, May 12, 2007 – Munster 38 Glasgow Warriors 20, Musgrave Park
Friday, October 26, 2007 – Glasgow Warriors 11 Munster 11, Firhill Arena
Saturday, May 10, 2008 – Munster 18 Glasgow Warriors 21, Musgrave Park
Saturday, October 4, 2008 – Munster 25 Glasgow Warriors 17, Thomond Park
– Glasgow Warriors have lost their last three matches in the Magners League since their 25-20 victory over Scottish rivals Edinburgh at Firhill Arena on January 2
– Glasgow are unbeaten at Firhill against all Irish opponents since Leinster won there 21-18 on May 7, 2006
– Munster, who are riding high at the top of the Magners League table, have won their last five games in all competitions since their 37-11 defeat at home at the hands of Ulster on January 3
– Munster’s only loss to a Scottish side in their last ten meetings since October 2006 was a 21-18 reversal against Glasgow in Cork on May 10, 2008 – this has been their one and only loss in their last four encounters with Glasgow