Scotstoun will be the venue for a huge Guinness PRO14 Conference A clash on Friday night as the Glasgow Warriors host the Ospreys.
The clash, which kicks off at 7.35pm could have a huge bearing on the final shake-up in the Guinness PRO14 Finals Series.
What’s at stake?
Currently sitting second and third in the Conference, just five points separate Glasgow and the Ospreys, with the former having lost three in a row in the league including both derby clashes with Edinburgh.
The Ospreys, meanwhile, have won four of five in the Guinness PRO14 to boost their hopes of reaching the Finals Series, and a bonus-point win in Scotland could see them leapfrog their hosts.
Team news (Glasgow Warriors): The Warriors have been boosted by the return of ten internationals, released from the Scotland squad ahead of the Six Nations.
One of those is Rob Harley, who will captain the side in the back row alongside fellow call-ups Matt Smith and Adam Ashe.
Elsewhere Nick Frisby and Brandon Thomson will form the half-back pairing while Ruaridh Jackson starts at full-back.
Team news (Ospreys): Sam Davies will captain the Ospreys in the absence of a number of internationals, partnering Tom Habberfield at No.9.
Habberfield starting is one five personnel changes, with Cory Allen coming into midfield, while up front James King switches from No.8 to the second row.
Glasgow Warriors assistant coach Kenny Murray will stand in for Dave Rennie, who is in New Zealand for a wedding.
He said: “This period of the season is crucial for us. We want to finish top of our Conference and secure a home semi-final and we’re confident we can still achieve that.
“Ospreys have been playing some good stuff and are right on our tails, so we know we’re going to have to be at our best.
“We went to Swansea earlier in the season with a squad not dissimilar to the one on the park tomorrow night and played really well, so we’ll take confidence from that.”
Key battle: Matt Smith v Sam Cross
At just 22, Matt Smith has forced his way into the Scotland set-up and could feature during the Guinness Six Nations for Gregor Townsend’s side. On Friday night he will face another player who enjoyed a dramatic rise, Sam Cross having gone from a XVs novice to an international after just one start in the format. The former Sevens star has had to bide his time since, but has started to get more game time this year and become a key member of the Ospreys back row.
Key stat: Glasgow Warriors have enjoyed a brilliant season against Welsh opposition, winning six of six so far in all competitions.
Did you know? Ospreys captain and fly-half Sam Davies is the top-scorer in the Guinness PRO14 this season, having scored 121 points in total.
Glasgow Warriors: Ruaridh Jackson, Lee Jones, Nick Grigg, Stafford McDowall, Niko Matawalu, Brandon Thomson, Nick Frisby; Alex Allan, Kevin Bryce, Siua Halanukonuka, Tim Swinson, Scott Cummings, Rob Harley (c), Matt Smith, Adam Ashe
Replacements: Robbie Smith, Jamie Bhatti, D’Arcy Rae, Tevita Tameilau, Thomas Gordon, Robbie Nairn, Alex Dunbar, Rory Hughes
Ospreys: Dan Evans, Hanno Dirksen, Johnny Kotze, Cory Allen, Luke Morgan, Sam Davies (c), Tom Habberfield; Gareth Thomas, Scott Baldwin, Tom Botha, Lloyd Ashley, James King, Olly Cracknell, Sam Cross, Rob McCusker
Replacements: Scott Otten, Rowan Jenkins, Gheorghe Gajion, Will Griffiths, Will Jones, Matthew Aubrey, Luke Price, Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler
Glasgow Warriors v Ospreys – KO 19.35
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)
AR1: Dave Sutherland (SRU), AR2: Rob Sullivan (IRFU)
TMO: Charles Samson (SRU)
Live on Premier Sports 1 & eir sport 2
Nine points from the boot of Brandon Thomson were enough for Glasgow Warriors as they battled to victory over Ospreys.
Sam Davies missed two first half penalties for the Welsh side, which would end up proving costly as his opposite number finished with a perfect record from the tee to guide them to victory.
A scrappy opening ten minutes set the tone for the rest of the game, as both sides kicked the ball the ball away and struggled under the high ball in wet and windy conditions.
Glasgow defied the wind in their faces at Scotstoun to have most of the early pressure, while Ospreys continued to kick the ball long into the opposition half.
When they finally did run from deep, flanker Sam Cross crashed through a tackle and set Tom Habberfield free, but he was wrapped up just metres short of the line by opposite number Nick Frisby.
Ospreys’ Davies had the first chance to put points on the board but the fly-half slid his kick past the left-hand post.
With his second chance Davies finally opened the scoring to make it 3-0 to the visitors on 31 minutes.
Davies, captaining the Ospreys for the first time on the night, had another chance before the break but this time pulled it wide right.
It took the hosts just 90 seconds after the break to win a penalty deep in the Welsh outfit’s half, with Brandon Thomson’s successful kick at goal drawing Glasgow level.
The Scottish side continued to pile on the pressure after the break, they went through more than a dozen phases but as they got inside the five-metre line, they turned the ball over and Ospreys cleared.
Glasgow continued to rely on tight phase play, as they dominated territory in the second period. It eventually told on the scoreboard as Thomson notched another kick to edge his side 6-3 in front.
Thomson added another a few minutes later, as he made the most of the wind behind him to notch a kick from 55 metres.
Ospreys sprung into life once the Scottish outfit extended their lead to six points and they were buoyed for the final ten minute as Nikola Matawalu was sent to the sinbin for foul play.
The visitors looked like they could make the most of the man advantage with two minutes on the clock, but blindside Olly Cracknell was penalised for taking the man out at the ruck when his side were going through the phases a few metres from the line.
The Welsh outfit had threatened to score from the attack but the back-rower’s error proved costly, with no other chances before the game ended.
24 Jan 2019
24 Jan 2019