Benetton Treviso entertain Glasgow Warriors at Stadio Monigo 13:05 GMT on New Year’s Eve, with both sides buoyant following their respective derby victories over Christmas.
What’s at stake? Treviso finally moved off the foot of the table with their morale-boosting win over Zebre and can start to reel in other teams – specifically ninth-placed Newport Gwent Dragons and tenth-placed Edinburgh – with another victory here.
Meanwhile, the Warriors’ sights are set on cracking the top four and just one point separates them from fourth-placed Ulster heading into what could be a pivotal weekend.
Team news (Treviso): Treviso have made three changes to the team that beat Zebre, as last week’s captain Alberto Sgarbi drops out for Luca Morisi at inside centre.
Giorgio Bronzini is promoted from the bench in favour of Tito Tebaldi while at tight-head, Matteo Zanusso replaces Simone Ferrari.
Team news (Glasgow Warriors): Stuart Hogg will start at fly-half for Glasgow Warriors for the first time in the Guinness PRO12.
With Hogg moving up field, Peter Murchie starts at full-back and will be flanked by Tommy Seymour and Junior Bulumakau.
At blind-side flanker Adam Ashe makes his first start of the season after making his return from injury, and Fiji scrum-half Nemia Kenatale should make his Warriors debut from the bench.
Key Battle: As gifted a player as he is, Stuart Hogg is in unfamiliar territory at fly-half on Saturday and will need to use all of half-back partner Henry Pyrgos’ experience to control the game.
He will be up against another former Scotland Under-20s star in Tommaso Allan, who will be hoping to build on his brilliant 18-point display from No.10 against Zebre.
Talking points: However, Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend does not view Hogg’s switch as an emergency measure and is backing the Scotland and Lions full-back to come good.
“Stuart Hogg has covered (though never started) at 10 a number of times this season and ran in the position a lot at training,” he said.
“He has all the attributes to play well there and we’re looking forward to seeing him getting even more touches of the ball this weekend.
“The squad is in a good place and have recovered well from the game against Edinburgh, as we have trained with real intensity this week.”
Key stat: Should Treviso win they will buck the trend as they have lost their last 21 encounters against Scottish sides.
Did you know? Treviso have won their last three matches in all competitions but have not won four in a row since 2011/2012.
Treviso: L McLean; A Esposito, T Benvenuti, L Morisi, L Sperandio; T Allan, G Bronzini; A De Marchi, D Giazzon, M Zanusso; M Fuser, D Budd; R Barbieri, A Steyn, M Barbini.
Replacements: R Santamaria, F Zani, T Pasquali, T Paulo, M Lazzaroni, E Gori, I McKinley, T Iannone.
Top Points Scorer: T Allan 55pts. Top Try Scorer: M Fuser 3.
Glasgow: P Murchie; J Bulumakau, N Grigg, S Johnson, T Seymour; S Hogg, H Pyrgos; G Reid, P MacArthur, D Rae; T Swinson, B Alainu’uese; A Ashe, C Fusaro, R Wilson.
Replacements: C Flynn, A Allan, Z Fagerson, R Harley, S Favaro, N Kenatale, R Clegg, S Lamont
Top Points Scorer: F Russell 39pts. Top Try Scorer: T Seymour 7.
Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:
Played 13, Treviso won 2, Glasgow won 11.
At Stadio Monigo, 2.05pm local time, (1.05pm UK & Ireland) Live on Eurosport and BBC ALBA
Referee: Elia Rizzo (FIR)
Assistant Referees: Claudio Blessano, Stefano Traversi (both FIR)
Citing Commissioner: Alberto Recaldini (FIR)
TMO: Jon Mason (WRU)
Rory Clegg played the part of super sub as the Glasgow Warrior scored within three minutes of his introduction to rescue his side against a spirited Benetton Treviso.
Glasgow had looked in control after responding to Luca Sperandio’s second-minute try, with Stuart Hogg – making his first start at fly-half in the Guinness PRO12 – pulling the strings.
The Scotland full-back, Tommy Seymour and the fit-again Adam Ashe all piled over before the half was out, but a Dean Budd try and Tommaso Allan’s kicking kept Treviso in touch.
Nick Grigg looked to have settled the game in the second half only for Budd to complete his try-double, with replacement Ian McKinley’s conversion levelling the scores.
Then Clegg, on for Grigg, broke Treviso’s hearts by crossing just two minutes later as Glasgow saw the last five minutes out.
Though 11th in the table, Treviso were not to be underestimated as they were aiming for their fourth victory in a row in all competitions.
And winger Sperandio got the Italians off to the perfect start by finishing a slick move in the corner with just two minutes on the clock.
The conversion was missed by fly-half Allan and then his opposite number Hogg set about trying to cancel out the deficit.
The Scotland full-back made an initial burst to put Treviso under pressure inside their own 22 – but a penalty flipped the momentum on its head.
Eventually, with the Italians camped on the Warriors line, the ball was spilled and Hogg hared up the pitch to score and then convert his own try.
Barely two minutes had gone before Glasgow scored again – this time Peter Murchie providing the inspiration, before the ball found its way to Seymour for his eighth try of the season.
Treviso continued to look dangerous, but after Allan missed a penalty in front of the posts, the Warriors made them pay.
Ashe – making his first start of the season – batted away a defender and crossed after taking on Tim Swinson’s pass, and suddenly Glasgow were 21-5 up on the half-hour.
Back came Treviso, however, after Budd got the first touch to a loose Glasgow pass that had ended up over their own try-line.
Junior Bulumakau nearly grabbed a Glasgow try-bonus point before the break but could not quite get on the end of a chip – instead Allan cut the half-time deficit to six points with a penalty.
Treviso started the second half on the front foot and Allan slotted one penalty from two, but Glasgow soon got their bonus point.
And the Warriors’ fourth try was arguably their best as Grigg showed tremendous power to bully his way over the line before Hogg’s conversion opened up a ten-point gap.
The hosts refused to give up and, following McKinley’s penalty, forced Glasgow to scramble and touch down over their own line.
In a bizarre passage of play Treviso won a penalty from a five-metre scrum and the kick hit the post, which then was adjudged to have rebounded off a Glasgow player for a knock-on.
Another penalty was rewarded and Budd scored through a quick-thinking tap-and-go – but Treviso’s joy would be short-lived.
Clegg, only just on the field, was at the right place at the right time to finish off another lightning Glasgow move and there was to be no way back for the home side after Hogg’s conversion.