RaboDirect Pro12: Geoff Cross set to make Glasgow debut
RaboDirect Pro12: Scotland international Geoff Cross is set to make Glasgow debut against Treviso on Friday
Geoff Cross will make his debut for Glasgow Warriors in the RaboDirect Pro12 on Friday night as they look to move into the top four.
The Scotland international 31-year-old, who began his professional career with the now-disbanded Border Reivers and is on loan from Edinburgh until the end of the season before moving to London Irish, replaces Jon Welsh at tighthead.
Geoff [Cross] has settled in really well since he joined us a couple of weeks ago and we’re looking forward to seeing him in a Warriors shirt
The prop’s first appearance for the club is one of nine changes made by Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend to the starting XV from last week’s 11-9 win over the Ospreys.
The Round 10 game was postponed on 20 December due to a waterlogged pitch and the groundsmen at Scotstoun Stadium were taking no risks with the weather on Thursday lunchtime with the entire pitch under covers with rain again in the air in Glasgow’s west end.
The Warriors go into the match having won their last two league matches and boast a record that sees them unbeaten against Italian opposition in their last eight matches.
Captain Al Kellock and Tim Swinson both return from injury to link up in the engine room behind Cross with Gordon Reid and Pat MacArthur retaining their places on the loosehead and at hooker respectively.
In the back row, Rob Harly retains his place on the blindside with Ryan Wilson and Tyrone Holmes promoted from the bench to start at number 8 and openside.
Townsend has also rested half-back duo Duncan Weir and Chris Cusiter so Ruaridh Jackson returns at outside-half with Henry Pyrgos at scrum-half.
Peter Murchie continues his run of games at full-back with livewire Fijian Niko Matawalu keeping his place on the left wing after menacing performances against the Ospreys and Scarlets in recent weeks.
Sean Maitland returns for his first start since picking up an injury on Scotland duty during the Six Nations to replace Tommy Seymour on the right wing.
Fresh from scoring five tries for Scotland at the Hong Kong Sevens last weekend, Mark Bennett replaces the rested Alex Dunbar at outside centre with Finn Russell continuing at inside centre after impressing again in Warriors colours against the Ospreys.
Among the replacements for the Warriors is Peter Horne, who has spent nine months on the sidelines after rupturing his ACL on Scotland’s tour of South Africa last summer.
“We are fully aware of the challenge Treviso will pose tomorrow and the work rate the players put in last Friday will have to be repeated if we’re to get a positive result and back up last week’s win,” Townsend said.
“Geoff [Cross] has settled in really well since he joined us a couple of weeks ago and we’re looking forward to seeing him in a Warriors shirt.
“It’s great to have continuity with three successive games at Scotstoun and the crowd last week were really vocal and got behind the team.
“We’re hoping for more of the same tomorrow night to help us overcome tough and very competitive opponents.”
Treviso ended a six-game losing run at home with a 20-16 win over Edinburgh on Saturday, but as they go in search of back-to-back wins for the first time since December 2012 they have won just once away from home since – a 41-17 thrashing of the Scarlets last May.
With 11 players unavailable through injury, Treviso head coach Marius Goosen has made seven changes to the side that defeated Edinburgh.
Christian Loamanu replaces the injured Italy international Michele Campagnaro at outside centre with Andrea Pratichetti replacing injured Ludovico Nitoglia on the right wing.
Marco Fuser comes in for Manoa Vosawai at blindside flanker with Paul Derbyshire on the openside in for Marco Filippucci.
In the second row Valerio Bernabò gets the nod ahead of Corniel van Zyl, who drops to the bench, with Ignacio Fernández Rouyet and Matteo Muccignat selected ahead of the benched duo Lorenzo Cittadini and Alberto De Marchi.
Glasgow Warriors: Peter Murchie; Sean Maitland, Mark Bennett, Finn Russell, Niko Matawalu; Ruaridh Jackson, Henry Pyrgos; Gordon Reid, Pat MacArthur, Geoff Cross, Tim Swinson, Al Kellock (captain), Rob Harley, Tyrone Holmes, Ryan Wilson.
Replacements: Kevin Bryce, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Moray Low, Leone Nakarawa, James Eddie; Peter Horne, Richie Vernon, Lee Jones.
Treviso: Luke McLean; Andrea Pratichetti, Christian Loamanu, Alberto Sgarbi; Angelo Esposito, James Ambrosini, Tobias Botes; Matteo Mccignat, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Ignacio Fernández-Rouyet, Antonio Pavanello (captain), Valerio Bernabò, Marco Fuser, Paul Derbyshire, Robert Barbieri.
Replacements: Giovanni Maistri, Alberto De Marchi, Lorenzo Cittadini, Corniel Van Zyl, Marco Filippucci, Fabio Semenzato, Alberto Di Bernardo, Brendan Williams.
Referee: Guiseppe Vivarini (FIR)