RaboDirect Pro12: Steve Tandy makes two changes to Ospreys side
RaboDirect Pro12: Steve Tandy makes two changes to his Ospreys side ahead of a "massive" game against Glasgow
Steve Tandy has made two changes from the Ospreys side which breezed past Cardiff Blues with Ryan Jones (back) and Ashley Beck (hip) missing through injury for their “massive game” against Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium.
With Beck missing from the midfield, Hanno Dirksen comes in at outside centre with Jonathan Spratt switching to inside centre as Sam Davies, Jeff Hassler and Aisea Natoga, who scored a hat-trick of tries six days ago, continue in the back three.
Wales international duo Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar continue their menacing half-back combination.
This is a massive game for us and the group are under no illusions of the size of the task ahead over next couple of months
Up front, Tandy has resisted the urge to recall Adam Jones, so the Wales tighthead starts from the bench with Aaron Jarvis keeping his place in the front row alongside loosehead Duncan Jones and Scott Baldwin at hooker.
James King comes in for Ryan Jones to partner captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second row, with the Ospreys continuing to field two opensides in the back row in Justin Tipuric and Sam Lewis, who makes his 50th appearance for the Welsh region, with Dan Baker retaining his place at number 8.
“This is a massive game for us and the group are under no illusions of the size of the task ahead over next couple of months,” Tandy said.
“We are in fourth place at the moment but Glasgow are breathing down our necks with a couple of games in hand, which makes it more important than ever that we go there on Friday night and are on top of our game in all areas.
“Every player will need to know their role, pay attention to detail and be clinical in everything they do. There is absolutely no margin for error if we want to keep hold of a play-off spot so we know what we’ve got to do.”
Meanwhile, Glasgow have made three changes for Friday’s visit of Ospreys, who currently occupy the crucial fourth-place spot with a four-point lead over the Scottish side.
But the Warriors have two games in hand with the league set up to produce a pulsating finish and will take confidence from overturning a half-time deficit in the reverse fixture in October to run 28-16.
The only change in the backs for the home side sees 21-year-old Finn Russell make just his fourth start for the Warriors at inside centre with Alex Dunbar moving to outside, head coach Gregor Townsend admitting that Russell was a better fit for the Ospreys clash.
Niko Matawalu, who scored the decisive try in the Warriors last outing against the Scarlets continues on the left wing with Scotland international Tommy Seymour on the right and Peter Murchie makes a third consecutive appearance at full-back with Stuart Hogg still banned and Sean Maitland back from injury, but short on game time.
This is our biggest game of the season so far with valuable league points up for grabs
Despite breaking his nose on Saturday, Duncan Weir retains his place at outside-half ahead of out of favour Ruaridh Jackson who has to make do with a place on the bench with Chris Cusiter again captaining the side from scrum-half.
In the forwards, Gordon Reid continues at loosehead with Ryan Grant not yet recovered from international exertions, with Jon Welsh again packing down at tighthead and Pat MacArthur replacing Dougie Hall at hooker.
Tim Swinson misses out after picking up a knock against the Scarlets so Fijian Leone Nakawara partners Jonny Gray in the engine room with an unchanged back row of Rob Harley and Chris Fusaro at flanker and Josh Strauss at number 8.
“This is our biggest game of the season so far with valuable league points up for grabs,” said Townsend.
“Ospreys are a very physical side with a number of good playmakers in their backs so we’ll have to be at our best defensively. Like any game against a top side, we’ll have to seize any opportunity that comes our way.”