Two teams that have had contrasting fortunes in the Magners League so far this season go head-to-head at the Sportsground tonight, as Connacht entertain Glasgow Warriors. Michael Bradley’s men are kicking themselves for failing to turn over the Ospreys in Swansea last time out, so an improved all-round effort can be expected back on home soil.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, March 5
CONNACHT (10th) v GLASGOW WARRIORS (2nd), the Sportsground, 8pm (live Setanta Sports 1)
Team News: The Connacht team to play Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground on Friday night has been selected.
The Connacht starting line-up shows five changes from the team that went down narrowly to the Ospreys last time out.
Centre Aidan Wynne, scrum half Frank Murphy, prop Jamie Hagan, lock Mike McCarthy and flanker Johnny O’Connor all come back into the side.
Niva Ta’auso (medial ligament), Liam Bibo (calf), Andrew Browne (ankle) and Ray Ofisa (virus) are sidelined for this game.
Connacht captain John Muldoon said: “Our home form has been good and the crowd plays a big part.
“Pride in wanting to put on a good show at home is always a factor, and we need to make up for the last two results (against Munster and the Ospreys).”
Meanwhile, scrum half Mark McMillan will continue as Glasgow’s stand-in captain for their visit to Galway.
With Alastair Kellock on Scotland duty, McMillan will skipper the Warriors as they look to bounce back from their 30-7 home loss to Cardiff last time out.
Head coach Sean Lineen has made five changes in personnel, with Colin Shaw starting on the right wing and Peter Murchie taking Max Evans’ place at outside centre.
In the forwards, Ed Kalman replaces the injured Moray Low at tighthead prop, Richie Gray makes way for Dan Turner in the second row and Calum Forrester gets the nod at openside flanker.
CONNACHT: Gavin Duffy; Troy Nathan, Keith Matthews, Aidan Wynne, Fionn Carr; Ian Keatley, Frank Murphy; Brett Wilkinson, Sean Cronin, Jamie Hagan, Michael Swift, Mike McCarthy, John Muldoon (capt), Johnny O’Connor, George Naoupu.
Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Robbie Morris, Bernie Upton, Mike McComish, Conor O’Loughlin, Miah Nikora, Brian Tuohy.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Bernardo Stortoni; Colin Shaw, Peter Murchie, Peter Horne, DTH van der Merwe; Ruaridh Jackson, Mark McMillan (capt); Jon Welsh, Dougie Hall, Ed Kalman, Tim Barker, Dan Turner, James Eddie, Calum Forrester, Richie Vernon.
Replacements: Fergus Thomson, Kevin Tkachuk, Richie Gray, Chris Fusaro, Colin Gregor, Chris Kinloch, Hefin O’Hare.
Referee: James Jones (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan, Olly Hodges (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Connacht to win: 8/15; Draw: 20/1; Glasgow Warriors to win: 6/4
Pre-Match Quotes: Michael Bradley (Connacht) – “It was a massive opportunity gone a-begging, for us against the Ospreys. We had a lot of opportunties in that game, particularly in the first half and we had a competitive advantage in the scrum.
“The Ospreys got two very soft tries and two soft penalties which accounts for their scores so it was not a good day at the office. We were very disappointed at the end of that game.
“Now there is pressure on us to win Friday’s match and expectation is that, with a lot of commitments to the Scottish national side, we need to go out and dominate Glasgow.
“We need to win the game on the basis that they are going to be short of players.
“Glasgow are coming here with a view of getting something out of the game to put them in position for the top four. They were not overly impressive in attack (in their last game against Cardiff) and our defence has been strong this year so we will be concentrating on ourselves, and what we do to them rather than what they are doing.”
Sean Lineen (Glasgow Warriors) – “The Cardiff game was a bitterly disappointing performance. The effort was there but something was missing, aside from the 11 or so unavailable players.
“But the guys can’t just accept that (defeat) because the internationals were not there, so there have been harsh words spoken this week – a few home truths – about the reality of the situation and where we are and how important Friday’s game is.
“The belief is there, but they have to really want to do it as a group. We have an opportunity now, against a Connacht team who are just as strong all the way through the campaign – they don’t lose many players during the international periods and have had a good run with a bit of consistency and a bit of momentum.
“They are on a roll, having qualified for the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals, and they are a hard team to beat at home.
“We’ve got a group of players here who are hurting after the Cardiff game. They know that how our season progresses is in their hands and it’s a huge responsibility, but I know they can do it.”
Top Scorers – 2009/10 Magners League: Connacht – Points: Ian Keatley 82; Tries: Fionn Carr 4; Glasgow Warriors – Points: Dan Parks 138; Tries: Thom Evans 4
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
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
Friday, October 23, 2009 – Glasgow Warriors 34 Connacht 20, Firhill Arena
– Connacht have lost their last three matches in the Magners League since their 16-10 victory over the Scarlets at the Sportsground on October 30 (their most recent home game in the competition)
– Connacht have not beaten a Scottish side since their 15-8 win over Glasgow in Galway on September 19, 2008
– Glasgow Warriors lie in second spot in the Magners League table, following their 30-7 reversal to Cardiff in round 12
– The Warriors are unbeaten in their last four away encounters in the Magners League and have never before managed a sequence of five away league games without losing
– The last five games between the two sides have all been won by the home outfit on the day. Glasgow’s only win in Connacht since the 2001 quarter-final was a 40-23 success at the Sportsground on April 13, 2007