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GUINNESS PRO12 Preview: Glasgow Warriors v Connacht

GUINNESS PRO12 Preview: Glasgow Warriors v Connacht

Two of the GUINNESS PRO12’s in-form, unbeaten teams, Glasgow Warriors and Connacht, will collide on Friday with Pat Lam’s men bidding to become the first visiting side to win at Scotstoun Stadium since last November.

GUINNESS PRO12: Friday, September 26

GLASGOW WARRIORS (2nd) v CONNACHT (3rd), Scotstoun Stadium, 7.35pm

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Team News: Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made five changes to his starting line-up for Friday’s GUINNESS PRO12 clash with Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium.

In his first appearance of the season, Michael Swift, who is Connacht and the PRO12’s most-capped player, comes in for Quinn Roux in the province’s second row.

Tighthead prop Rodney Ah You and number 8 George Naoupu will also earn their first starts of the season in an altered pack after both coming on from the bench in all three previous games.

Galway man Eoin McKeon moves to openside flanker this week and joins Robbie Henshaw in making his 50th appearance for Connacht this weekend.

Danie Poolman has recovered from the illness that forced him to withdraw last week, taking his place on the right wing with Matt Healy shifting over to the left side. New scrum half Ian Porter joins Jack Carty at half-back.

Meanwhile, returning captain Al Kellock, who had a shoulder operation over the summer, will start his first game for Glasgow Warriors since last season’s PRO12 final.

The Scotland international played 60 minutes for the Warriors ‘A’ team on Monday in their 30-5 win over Edinburgh and goes straight into Glasgow’s starting line-up to face Connacht.
After joining from Munster in the summer, Irish centre James Downey, who played for Connacht between 2004 and 2005, makes his full debut for the Warriors in the number 12 jersey.

Tom Ryder and Finn Russell could both make their first appearances of the season from the bench.
Following last Saturday’s 33-13 win over the Dragons in Newport, Stuart Hogg continues at full-back and DTH van der Merwe keeps his place on the left wing, with Sean Lamont coming in for Tommy Seymour on the opposite side.
There is a new centre partnership with Downey linking up with Mark Bennett in midfield, while Duncan Weir continues at out-half and Henry Pyrgos comes in at scrum half.
The only change in the front row sees Pat MacArthur taking over from Kevin Bryce at hooker after recovering from a head knock. Props Gordon Reid and Euan Murray continue at loosehead and tighthead respectively.
Kellock comes into the second row in place of Leone Nakarawa and will partner Tim Swinson. Chris Fusaro replaces the suspended Tyrone Holmes at openside flanker, while Adam Ashe takes over from Josh Strauss at number 8 and Rob Harley continues on the blindside.

GLASGOW WARRIORS: Stuart Hogg; Sean Lamont, Mark Bennett, James Downey, DTH van der Merwe; Duncan Weir, Henry Pyrgos; Gordon Reid, Pat MacArthur, Euan Murray, Tim Swinson, Al Kellock (capt), Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Adam Ashe.

Replacements: Kevin Bryce, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Rossouw de Klerk, Tom Ryder, James Eddie, Murray McConnell, Finn Russell, Tommy Seymour.

CONNACHT: Darragh Leader; Danie Poolman, Robbie Henshaw, David McSharry, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Ian Porter; Denis Buckley, David Heffernan, Rodney Ah You, Michael Swift, Aly Muldowney, John Muldoon (capt), Eoin McKeon, George Naoupu.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Ronan Loughney, Nathan White, Quinn Roux, Michael Kearney, John Cooney, Craig Ronaldson, Fionn Carr.

Referee: Claudio Blessano (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Mike Adamson, Stephen Ward (both Scotland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Glasgow Warriors to win: 1/9; Draw: 25/1; Connacht to win: 5/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Pat Lam (Connacht) – “It’s been three physical games so far and we’ve made very few changes until now.

“Glasgow is likely to be one of our most physical clashes of the season so it’s the right time to bring in fresh legs and welcome in the experience up front of guys like George, Rodney and especially ‘Swifty’ who has been raring to go for a few weeks now. The impact that Mick (Kearney) and Quinn can provide from the bench is also very important.

“Willie (Faloon) took part in training this week after the Leinster game but with our options depleted at seven, we want to give him a break and the chance to ensure he’s 100% come the following week.

“The same goes with the changes in the backs with Niyi (Adeolokun) and Kieran (Marmion). Niyi needs a break to recover and Kieran has played a lot of rugby over the last two seasons and has naturally taken a few knocks along the way.

“It’s important that we manage his game-time to ensure that he has the best opportunity to perform at the highest level throughout the season.

“We have full faith in our new scrum half recruits Ian (Porter) and John (Cooney) who have really embraced the Connacht culture and are excited about taking their opportunity this week.

“As a team, we are happy with our progress but we know ourselves that there is a lot of work to be done and, at the end of the day, we have won three games. It’s a long season ahead.

“We go into tomorrow’s game just one point behind Glasgow, but there is no doubt that this will be one of our toughest games of the season.

“With Gregor Townsend, Glasgow are a well-coached side and, as we have seen, not many teams can go to Scotstoun and take a win from them.

“But we have taken a lot of encouragement from the last three tight games and once again we will be fully focused on the process of playing as a team for this huge challenge.”

Gregor Townsend (Glasgow Warriors) – “Connacht are one of the form teams in the league right now and had an impressive win against Leinster last weekend, which combined with their win away in Toulouse last season, shows the progress that they are making under Pat Lam.

“Tomorrow night’s game is another big test for our squad, but one we’re all looking forward to. It’ll be good to be back home at Scotstoun, playing in front of our own supporters, after a couple of weeks on the road.

“We welcome Al Kellock, Tom Ryder and Finn Russell back from injury tomorrow night. They’ve all worked really hard to come back and it’s great news that we can include them in our squad for this game.”

Top Scorers – 2014/15 GUINNESS PRO12: Glasgow Warriors – Points: Duncan Weir 20; Tries: Niko Matawalu, Josh Strauss 2 each; Connacht – Points: Darragh Leader 15; Tries: Eoin McKeon, Danie Poolman, Willie Faloon, Kieran Marmion 1 each


Friday, February 18, 2011 – Connacht 37 Glasgow Warriors 8, the Sportsground
Saturday, February 18, 2012 – Connacht 13 Glasgow Warriors 13, the Sportsground
Friday, September 21, 2012 – Glasgow Warriors 27 Connacht 17, Scotstoun Stadium
Friday, May 3, 2013 – Connacht 3 Glasgow Warriors 20, the Sportsground
Saturday, November 2, 2013 – Connacht 12 Glasgow Warriors 19, the Sportsground
Sunday, February 9, 2014 – Glasgow Warriors 8 Connacht 6, Scotstoun Stadium


– One of these two sides will lose their perfect wining start to the new campaign

– Glasgow Warriors have lost just one of their last 13 GUINNESS PRO12 matches (last season’s final at the RDS) and have not lost at Scotstoun Stadium since the Dragons were the visitors last November

– Connacht have made their best ever start to a new season since the league went home and away in 2003/04 and are going for a second successive away victory in Scotland, having beaten Edinburgh at Murayfield in round 2

– The Warriors are unbeaten against Connacht since a visit to the Sportsground in February 2011, while Connacht’s only victory in Glasgow since 2003 was at Firhill in September 2010