Guinness PRO12: Glasgow Warriors vs Scarlets Preview

Everything you need to know ahead of Friday's clash as the Warriors look to get back to winning ways and Scarlets look for an away win

By Gareth Llewellyn

Kick-off and TV/Radio coverage

Friday 9 January 2015, Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow. Kick-off 19:35 GMT. Live TV coverage on BBC Two Wales and BBC ALBA. Radio coverage on BBC Radio Wales.

Who’s the man with the whistle?

Irish referee George Clancy is in charge of his 65th competition match, supported by Scottish duo Andrew McMenemy and Sam Grove-White, with the SRU’s David Changleng on TMO duties.

It’s a swift return to Glasgow for the former Limerick back, who also took charge of the first 1872 Cup clash on 27 December when the Warriors defeated Edinburgh 16-6.

He has also refereed the Scarlets in his only other PRO12 match this season as the Welsh region defeated Newport Gwent Dragons 26–13 at the Parc y Scarlets in Round 5.

What’s the team news?

Glasgow Warriors: Gregor Townsend rings the changes in the pack after a tough couple of matches against Edinburgh.

It’s an all new front row as loosehead prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa returns from injury to join hooker Pat MacArthur and tighthead prop Mike Cusack, who makes his first appearance for the club in 11 months – his first at Scotstoun since 2012.

Lock Tim Swinson comes in for club captain Al Kellock in the second row, with Fijian lock Leone Nakarawa making a rare start in the backrow as a blindside flanker with Ryan Wilson switching to the openside in place of the injured Tyrone Holmes.

The only change in the backline sees Sean Lamont replace Sean Maitland on the right wing.

Record try-scorer DTH van der Merwe replaces injured full-back Stuart Hogg on the bench, while young flanker Will Bordill also comes in as a result of the injury crisis in back row.

Scarlets: The West Wales region have made two enforced changes with 20-year-old Scarlets Academy and Carmarthen Quins hooker Ryan Elias getting his first Guinness PRO12 start after coming off the bench for injured Kirby Myhill, while South African prop Jacobie Adriaanse returns at tighthead prop after Samson Lee and Rhodri Jones also went off injured last time out.

There are no changes in the backline.

Myhill’s younger brother Torin Myhill, also a hooker, comes on to the bench as does experienced tighthead Peter Edwards. Lewis Rawlins replaces Will Boyde.

What are the line-ups?

Glasgow Warriors: Peter Murchie; Sean Lamont, Richie Vernon, Peter Horne, Tommy Seymour; Finn Russell, Niko Matawalu; Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Pat MacArthur, Mike Cusack, Tim Swinson, Jonny Gray, Leone Nakarawa, Ryan Wilson, Josh Strauss (captain).

Replacements: Fraser Brown, Ryan Grant, Euan Murray, James Eddie, Will Bordill; Ali Price, James Downey, DTH van der Merwe.

Scarlets: Liam Williams; Hadleigh Parkes, Regan King, Scott Williams, Michael Tagicakibau; Rhys Priesland, Aled Davies; Rob Evans, Ryan Elias, Jacobie Adriaanse, Jake Ball, Johan Snyman, Aaron Shingler, John Barclay, Rob McCusker.

Replacements: Torin Myhill, Wyn Jones, Peter Edwards, George Earle, Lewis Rawlins; Gareth Davies, Steven Shingler, Jordan Williams.

Who are the players to watch this week?

Former Warriors flanker John Barclay (pictured above) will hope to have more of an impact than the 30 minutes he lasted in the reverse fixture in November, when he left the field with a concussive episode. He was superb against the Ospreys last week and, with the Warriors enduring a back-row crisis and fielding no specialist openside, a big game from the Scottish international at the breakdown for the Scarlets could be the difference in a match that is expected to be attritional amid gale-force winds and rain.

Fijian lock Leone Nakarawa can be a nightmare for any defending side with his ability to make metres after contact and offload from anywhere and he makes a rare start in the back row at blindside flanker. Nakarawa started at number 8 in the Warriors’ 54-0 win over Zebre in May 2014, but he can expect to be tested more in defence by the Scarlets. He needs a big game for the Warriors to get back to winning ways.

What do the teams make of this match?

Glasgow Warriors head coach, Gregor Townsend: “We were disappointed with the performance and result last weekend and the players have been hurting since the game at BT Murrayfield.

“Tomorrow is a great opportunity for them to deliver a much improved performance and show our loyal supporters how hard they are willing to work to bounce back with a win.

“We face a tough challenge against the Scarlets, who are very well-coached and have a number of quality players in their side.

“It’s great to be able to welcome back Mike Cusack for tomorrow’s match. He’s shown a lot of courage over the last couple of seasons and his hard work has been rewarded with a starting place in the team.”

Scarlets head coach, Wayne Pivac: “This weekend’s game is massive and I don’t think that any one game has more importance over the other in the next month of PRO12 rugby.

“Every PRO12 game, the next three or four especially, are just massive. We’ve got to get points out of all games.

“On the road for us a minimum would be a bonus point out of them. We go to Glasgow off the back of the Ospreys game full of confidence and going there to try and get maximum points.

“A lot of team have good home records in this competition at the moment – it’s very interesting.

“There’s a hell of a lot of rugby still to be played in the competition. The way it’s headed it looks like it’ll go right down to the wire.

“It’s a very exciting competition, there are nine teams fighting for six European places and potentially seven teams fighting for four play-off positions.”

What happened last time they met?

Their last meeting came in the Guinness PRO12 on Friday 21 November as the Scarlets ran out 19-9 winners during a downpour in Llanelli with a late try from former Warrior Rory Pitman to seal the victory.

How did they get on last time out?

Glasgow Warriors: The Warriors were out of sorts as they fell to a shock 20-8 defeat to inter-city rivals Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield, also coughing up the 1872 Cup for the first time since 2009.

Scarlets: Wayne Pivac’s men maintained their impressive home record at the Parc y Scarlets with a convincing 22-10 win over fierce rivals Ospreys, but the victory came at a cost as their injury crisis in the front row was compounded.

Anything I may have missed?

The Scarlets have gone 12 games without a win on their travels since their 41-33 win over Benetton Treviso at the Stadio Monigo in February 2014

The Warriors’ last home defeat in the PRO12 came in November 2013 when Newport Gwent Dragons left Scotstoun with a surprise win, but Toulouse came away with a 12-9 win in December.

The Scarlets are without six front-row players through injury, including Wales international hookers Ken Owen and Emyr Phillips, and tighthead props Samson Lee and Rhodri Jones.

The Warriors are missing 12 Scotland internationals through injury, including full-back Stuart Hogg, stand-off Duncan Weir, centre Mark Bennett, and flankers Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro and Tyrone Holmes.

Last time the Scarlets won in Glasgow came at Hughenden in 2004 as Glasgow Rugby lost 29-26 in the Heineken Cup. Glasgow stand-off Calvin Howarth missed three penalties Gareth MacLure fumbled a cross-field kick from Dan Parks at the death, which could have won the game.

What do the bookies make of the match?

The Warriors are overwhelming favourites to get back to winning ways given the clubs’ respective home and away records.

Our man Paddy Power is offering Glasgow Warriors at 1/5, Scarlets at 7/2, the Draw at 20/1.

Odds stated are correct at time of writing and subject to change.

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