Six days after suffering a second half collapse against the Scarlets, Connacht are back in action as they visit Scotstoun Stadium, the new home ground of Glasgow Warriors, for the first time in the RaboDirect PRO12.
RABODIRECT PRO12: Friday, September 21
GLASGOW WARRIORS (7th) v CONNACHT (9th), Scotstoun Stadium, 7.35pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)
Team News: Eric Elwood’s starting line-up for Friday’s RaboDirect PRO12 encounter with Glasgow shows eight changes to the team that ran out against the Scarlets last weekend.
In the backs, Mark McCrea and James Loxton replace Fetu’u Vainikolo and Tiernan O’Halloran on the wings respectively, with Matthew Jarvis coming in at out-half for Miah Nikora, who takes a well-deserved break.
The 19-year-old Robbie Henshaw gets his first start for the province after making an appearance and notable impact from the bench in all three RaboDirect PRO12 games so far. Henshaw takes over at inside centre from Eoin Griffin, who is resting an ankle injury.
David McSharry, who in superb fashion burst back onto the scene last Saturday against the Scarlets, will be Henshaw’s partner in a young, new-look centre combination…
Up front, meanwhile, hooker Adrian Flavin, who made his 100th league appearance last time out, replaces Ethienne Reynecke. He is joined in the front row by Brett Wilkinson and recent debutant Nathan White.
George Naoupu started at number 8 against the Cardiff Blues and Zebre but on Friday he will link up in the second row with David Gannon, who is set for his first start after three consecutive weeks of replacement appearances.
Willie Faloon, who made an impressive full debut for Connacht last weekend, continues in an all-new back row trio which sees Johnny O’Connor move from openside to blindside flanker
On the bench, Michael Swift takes a well-earned rest for this match while Academy members Kevin O’Byrne and Jack Carty are in line for their first action of the campaign, with both players having been included among the replacements.
Meanwhile, Gregor Townsend’s Glasgow Warriors selection shows four changes to the side that ran out against the Ospreys in Swansea last time out.
In the backs, Sean Lamont comes in for Tommy Seymour on the right wing and Henry Pyrgos replaces shoulder injury victim Chris Cusiter at scrum half.
Up front Moray Low has recovered from a calf complaint to start at tighthead prop. Ryan Wilson, who missed the Ospreys game to be present at the birth of his daughter Ava, resumes his number 8 duties, with flanker Chris Fusaro rested for this match.
Tim Swinson, a key summer signing from Newcastle Falcons, could make his competitive Warriors debut off the bench after recovering from a facial injury sustained in the pre-season friendly against Sale Sharks.
Out-half Scott Wight and centre Troy Nathan are also set for their first action of the campaign, with both players having been included among the replacements.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Peter Murchie; Sean Lamont, Alex Dunbar, Peter Horne, DTH van der Merwe; Duncan Weir, Henry Pyrgos; Ryan Grant, Dougie Hall, Moray Low, Tom Ryder, Al Kellock (capt), James Eddie, John Barclay, Ryan Wilson.
Replacements: Finlay Gillies, Mike Cusack, Gordon Reid, Tim Swinson, Angus Macdonald, Sean Kennedy, Scott Wight, Troy Nathan.
CONNACHT: Gavin Duffy (capt); James Loxton, Robbie Henshaw, David McSharry, Mark McCrea; Matthew Jarvis, Kieran Marmion; Brett Wilkinson, Adrian Flavin, Nathan White, George Naoupu, David Gannon, Johnny O’Connor, Willie Faloon, Eoin McKeon.
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Denis Buckley, Rodney Ah You, Michael Swift, Michael Kearney, David Moore, Jack Carty, Mata Fifita.
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Peter Allan, Adrian Graves (both Scotland)
Television Match Official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Glasgow Warriors to win: 1/8; Draw: 25/1; Connacht to win: 11/2
Pre-Match Quotes: Eric Elwood (Connacht) – “We obviously want to give guys every opportunity because we’re just a little bit thin on the ground with injuries. Playing Glasgow on their home pitch is always going to be a difficult trip,” he told the Galway Advertiser.
“It’s never an easy place to go, albeit it’s a new experience this year because we’re going to a new ground (Scotstoun Stadium).
“The Warriors were very unlucky in their two defeats, particularly against the Scarlets, but to win against the Ospreys is no mean feat so that has kickstarted their season and they’ll be looking at this game as an opportunity.
“We did some good stuff in the first half against the Scarlets in particular, we were 8-0 at half-time and we let ourselves down in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
“These things are fixable and we can get them right. If we stay positive, keep working and developing our game, then we feel we can get there. There are no easy games. We have to go to Glasgow, but these lads are not afraid of a challenge.”
Gregor Townsend (Glasgow Warriors) – “Connacht are a battle-hardened, very proud unit whose defeat to league leaders Scarlets last weekend did not reflect how well they performed in the game.
“Our recent record against them underlines just how disciplined, aggressive and accurate a performance will be required to follow up our excellent win over the Ospreys with another victory this weekend.
“As a group, we are really energised by the opportunity to give our supporters a first win at Scotstoun, but are fully aware of what it will take to bring about a positive result.”
Top Scorers – 2012/13 RaboDirect PRO12: Glasgow Warriors – Points: Duncan Weir 15; Tries: DTH van der Merwe 2; Connacht – Points: Miah Nikora 30; Tries: Tiernan O’Halloran, George Naoupu, Mike McCarthy, Eoin Griffin 1 each
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
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
Friday, February 18, 2011 – Connacht 37 Glasgow Warriors 8, the Sportsground
Saturday, February 18, 2012 – Connacht 13 Glasgow Warriors 13, the Sportsground
– Glasgow Warriors gained a notable opening win of the RaboDirect PRO12 season courtesy of their 28-10 victory over reigning champions, the Ospreys, at Liberty Stadium last Friday
– The Warriors’ only victory in their last six PRO12 encounters with Irish provinces was a 24-3 triumph over Connacht in this equivalent fixture last season
– Connacht’s lone win in their last four contests came against Italian newcomers Zebre in round 2
– The westerners have recorded just one victory in Scotland since 2006, claiming a 19-17 success against Glasgow Warriors at Firhill Stadium in September 2010
– The Warriors’ 24-3 win over Connacht at Firhill Stadium in May snapped a four-match winless run against the province
– Connacht have triumphed on just two occasions on Glasgow soil, in 2003 and 2010