After winning their opening two Amlin Challenge Cup ties, a confident Connacht will be hoping to transfer their European form to the Magners League when they battle it out with Glasgow Warriors at Firhill on Friday. Michael Bradley’s side are a point adrift at the bottom of the league table and doubly keen to post an away win ahead of next weekend’s clash with the struggling Scarlets in Galway.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, October 23
GLASGOW WARRIORS (7th) v CONNACHT (10th), Firhill Arena, 7.30pm
Team News: The Connacht team to play Glasgow Warriors in the Magners League at Firhill Arena on Friday has been announced.
Michael Bradley’s team selection shows two changes to the side which defeated Montpellier in the Amlin Challenge Cup last weekend.
Sean Cronin takes over from Adrian Flavin at hooker, while Ian Keatley starts at out-half, swapping places with Miah Nikora.
Fit-again flanker Ray Ofisa and prop Robbie Morris, who is back from suspension, both return to the squad having been selected on the replacements bench.
Meanwhile, Glasgow Warriors welcome back Scotland centre Max Evans and Scotland Under-20 lock Richie Gray as they look to return to winning ways against Connacht.
Evans, who injured his knee against the Ospreys in May, excelled in his return to competitive rugby for associated Scottish Hydro Premier One club, Glasgow Hawks, last weekend, while Gray gets his first start of the season after recovering from an elbow injury sustained during pre-season.
Evans and Gray are the latest players to return to the Warriors team which endured an outbreak of flu.
With last weekend’s return of Scotland international players Chris Cusiter and Graeme Morrison, Glasgow boss Sean Lineen is happy to include a total of 12 internationals in his starting line-up.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Bernardo Stortoni; Colin Shaw, Max Evans, Graeme Morrison, Thom Evans; Dan Parks, Chris Cusiter; Jon Welsh, Dougie Hall, Moray Low, Richie Gray, Al Kellock (capt), Kelly Brown, John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie.
Replacements: Pat MacArthur, Kevin Tkachuk, Dan Turner, Richie Vernon, Mark McMillan, Colin Gregor, Hefin O’Hare.
CONNACHT: Gavin Duffy; Troy Nathan, Niva Ta’auso, Keith Matthews, Fionn Carr; Ian Keatley, Frank Murphy; Brett Wilkinson, Sean Cronin, Jamie Hagan, Michael Swift, Bernie Upton, Michael McCarthy, Johnny O’Connor, John Muldoon (capt).
Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Robbie Morris, Andrew Browne, Ray Ofisa, Conor O’Loughlin, Miah Nikora, Tiernan O’Halloran.
Referee: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Assistant Referees: David Changleng, Bob Nevins (both Scotland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Glasgow Warriors to win: 1/10; Draw: 25/1; Connacht to win: 5/1
Say What: Michael Bradley (Connacht) – “We’re looking forward to playing Glasgow in Firhill and backing up the win we had against Montpellier. The way we played that match and the quality of the scores we got, the lads are really buzzing and looking forward to Friday.
“We understand it’s going to be difficult against Glasgow. They have had two poor results in the Heineken Cup, they’ll be looking to put that right and they’re going reasonably well in the Magners League, so that might be their focus for the remainder of the season.
“So it will be a big ask of us but we’ve always done well over there. We’ve been on the wrong side of very close matches in the recent history between us.
“If we do our work well like last week and take our chances like last week, we’ll go over there with a lot of confidence and we’ll be a difficult side to beat.”
Sean Lineen (Glasgow Warriors) – “It’s been a pretty testing time this past month, 24 guys with the flu in total on top of some injuries but the players that have come in have done a great job.
“We’re still doing really well in the Magners League, in fact there’s only one team (Leinster) that’s had more wins than us so we’re up there despite really testing the squad.
“The team spirit has always been fantastic at Glasgow. We’ve never given up and there’s always been an edge to our game.
“The players have never lost their belief. We just to need make teams work a lot harder to get any form of points, build on that pressure, take our points when they’re due and go into this game against Connacht and get a good win.”
Top Scorers – 2009/10 Magners League: Glasgow Warriors – Points: Dan Parks 65; Tries: Ruaridh Jackson, Rob Dewey, Colin Shaw, Dave McCall, Johnnie Beattie, Thom Evans 1 each; Connacht – Points: Ian Keatley 32; Tries: Fionn Carr 3
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, November 3, 2006 – Glasgow Warriors 39 Connacht 34, Hughenden
Friday, April 13, 2007 – Connacht 23 Glasgow Warriors 40, The Sportsground
Friday, October 5, 2007 – Glasgow Warriors 16 Connacht 15, Firhill Arena
Friday, November 30, 2007 – Connacht 10 Glasgow Warriors 6, The Sportsground
Friday, September 19, 2008 – Connacht 15 Glasgow Warriors 8, The Sportsground
Friday, May 15, 2009 – Glasgow Warriors 30 Connacht 9, Firhill Arena
– Glasgow Warriors’ only win in their last five matches in all competitions was a 21-5 triumph at Cardiff Blues in the Magners League on October 3
– The Warriors have slipped to back-to-back defeats at Firhill Arena but have not lost three successive home games since the 2005/06 season
– Connacht have secured successive wins in the Amlin Challenge Cup against Madrid and Montpellier, but in the Magners League their only win in their last nine games was an 18-16 victory over Cardiff Blues on September 18
– The westerners have lost their last four matches against opponents from Scotland
– The last four encounters between Glasgow and Connacht have all been won by the home side on the day