Connacht are chasing their first ever season’s double over Glasgow Warriors. If they are victorious on Friday night, Eric Elwood’s men will jump above the Scots in the table and continue their recent resurgence.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, February 18
CONNACHT (11th) v GLASGOW WARRIORS (10th), the Sportsground, 7pm
Team News: The Connacht team and replacements to play Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground on Friday night have been announced.
After last weekend’s victory over the Scarlets. the province’s head coach Eric Elwood has made two changes to the starting line-up.
Hooker Sean Cronin returns from Six Nations duty and replaces Adrian Flavin, while Ray Ofisa starts at number 8 ahead of Mike McComish.
The back-line remains unchanged as Troy Nathan and Niva Ta’auso make up the centre partnership and Fionn Carr, Brian Tuohy and Gavin Duffy complete the back-three.
Johnny O’Connor continues to captain the side from openside flanker, with fellow Galway native Andrew Browne starting at blindside flanker.
Meanwhile, out-half Ruaridh Jackson has been released from the Scotland squad to start for Glasgow in Galway.
Jackson’s inclusion, alongside stand-in captain Colin Gregor, sees Duncan Weir drop to the replacements bench. Colin Shaw is the player to be excluded from the matchday squad.
The remainder of the Warriors’ starting line-up is unchanged from last Friday’s 26-15 home defeat to the Cardiff Blues.
Recent signing Tom Ryder starts in the second row, with Robert Harley, who was sin-binned against Cardiff, combining again with Calum Forrester and Johnnie Beattie in the back row.
Glasgow’s Max Evans, Richie Gray, Alastair Kellock, John Barclay, Moray Low, Richie Vernon and Jackson were on duty for Scotland in their RBS 6 Nations clash with Wales last weekend.
CONNACHT: Gavin Duffy; Brian Tuohy, Niva Ta’auso, Troy Nathan, Fionn Carr; Ian Keatley, Frank Murphy; Brett Wilkinson, Sean Cronin, Jamie Hagan, Michael Swift, Mike McCarthy, Andrew Browne, Johnny O’Connor (capt), Ray Ofisa.
Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Ronan Loughney, Rodney Ah You, Bernie Upton, Mike McComish, Cillian Willis, Miah Nikora, Shane Monahan.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Bernardo Stortoni; Hefin O’Hare, Federico Aramburu, Peter Murchie, DTH van der Merwe; Ruaridh Jackson, Colin Gregor (capt); Ryan Grant, Fergus Thomson, Ed Kalman, Aly Muldowney, Tom Ryder, Robert Harley, Calum Forrester, Johnnie Beattie.
Replacements: Finlay Gillies, Jon Welsh, Kevin Tkachuk, Ryan Wilson, Chris Fusaro, Henry Pyrgos, Duncan Weir, Peter Horne.
Referee: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson, Peter Roche (both Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Connacht to win: 4/7; Draw: 18/1; Scarlets to win: 7/5
Pre-Match Quotes: Eric Elwood (Connacht) – “We want to build on the momentum from last week and the good victory we achieved over the Scarlets.
“Obviously there is history between us – we beat Glasgow over there this season and they will come smarting from their defeat last week (to Cardiff). Where we both are in the league table suggests this is a potential eight-pointer.
“We knew how important it was after the break to get off to a good footing, but now we have to back it up on Friday.
“We were disappointed with the way we played in the first half (against the Scarlets), yet we led 8-3. But I thought the second half performance was excellent considering we gave away an early score.
“In fairness to the guys, they showed great character again. They stuck at it, carried the ball well, the substitutes made an impact, and they exerted pressure. We made a conscious effort to carry the ball and stay on our feet and we got the just rewards.
“The win was very important. It’s okay patting yourself on the back saying, ‘another moral victory, another losing bonus point, we are making improvements.’
“Yes, we are, but the game is about winning and that’s why this win is so important. Now we want to push on from here.”
Sean Lineen (Glasgow Warriors) – “It’s great to have Ruaridh (Jackson) back because he’s been playing so well for us. Obviously Duncan (Weir) had a solid game last weekend, so it’s fantastic to have both young 10s back together and battling it out.
“We won’t underestimate Connacht. We have a lot of respect for them because Connacht is a difficult place to go, they don’t lose many games at home.
“There is a lot of pressure on us to get the result we need. We have to get back to winning ways and we know that.
“There are nine games to go and we are in charge of those. It’s how we perform in these games that will depend on how we go into what is a World Cup season.”
Top Scorers – 2010/11 Magners League: Connacht – Points: Ian Keatley 135; Tries: Fionn Carr 4; Glasgow Warriors – Points: Duncan Weir 83; Tries: DTH van der Merwe 7
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
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 Stadium
Friday, October 23, 2009 – Glasgow Warriors 34 Connacht 20, Firhill Stadium
Friday, March 5, 2010 – Connacht 19 Glasgow Warriors 19, the Sportsground
Friday, September 17, 2010 – Glasgow Warriors 17 Connacht 19, Firhill Stadium
– Connacht have won their last three matches in all competitions, since their 17-15 reversal at the Newport Gwent Dragons in the Magners League on January 6
– Connacht have lost just one of their last four matches against Scottish opponents
– Glasgow Warriors have lost their last three games in the Magners League, since beating Edinburgh at Firhill Stadium on December 27
– The Warriors’ 23-16 victory at the Dragons in the Heineken Cup ended a nine-match losing run on the road in all competitions –
Connacht beat Glasgow 19-17 at Firhill Stadium in round 3 this season and have never before achieved a season’s double over the Scotsmen