Glasgow Warriors v Scarlets match preview
The Scarlets make the trip up to new ground Scotstoun in Glasgow off the back of a rampant win over Heineken Cup champions Leinster. Despite Leinster being forced to field a depleted side, the manner in which the Scarlets sealed such an emphatic victory will no doubt give them a boost going forward. Glasgow approach this game following a defeat to a dogged Ulster in Ravenhill. They will have been disappointed to have not even secured a losing bonus point and will be keen to start their tenure at a new home with a win.
The travelling side are showing their clear endeavour to win by fielding what is currently their strongest side possible, with starts for Matthew Rees, Rhys Priestland and Jon Davies. A backline packed full of current internationals, their forwards are less glamorous, but if the new 2nd row pairing of Kelly and Earle can work as well as they did in the first round, the Scarlets may well get to see enough of the ball to leave their backs purring.
This is something Glasgow are going to have to look to avoid at all costs. The pack they have named is a combative and disruptive one and it may well be enough to prevent the Scarlets playing the game that suits them.
With conditions looking to be cloudy and a bit damp, if neither side can get parity up front it might well come down to discipline and kicks. Both sides are fielding abrasive 7’s in Barclay and Edwards so this could end up a key area for possession and points.
Looking at the two sides announced, I can see the Scarlets edging this. Indeed if they have any realistic ambitions of reaching the play-offs this season, a win or at the very least a losing bonus point against one of their main competitors is essential.
For Glasgow, a loss would be a huge set back in their league aspirations, even so early as the 2nd round. They will be fired up to get a win to get their season moving, but with limitations at centre they will have to play through their forwards, and I’m not sure that the Scarlets’ pack will fold as it has done in previous seasons to cough up the points they are after.
My prediction: Glasgow 15 – 20 Scarlets
Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie 14 Sean Lamont 13 Alex Dunbar 12 Graeme Morrison 11 DTH van der Merwe 10 Ruaridh Jackson 9 Chris Cusiter 1 Ryan Grant 2 Pat MacArthur 3 Moray Low 4 Tom Ryder 5 Al Kellock (CAPTAIN) 6 Rob Harley 7 John Barclay 8 Ryan Wilson
Substitutes from: Finlay Gillies, Dougie Hall, Mike Cusack, Gordon Reid, James Eddie, Chris Fusaro, Henry Pyrgos, Duncan Weir, Peter Horne, Byron McGuigan, Tommy Seymour.
Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Andy Fenby 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 1 Rhodri Jones, 2 Matthew Rees, 3 Deacon Manu, 4 George Earle, 5 Richard Kelly, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Johnathan Edwards, 8 Rob McCusker (capt)
Replacements: Ken Owens, Phil John, Peter Edwards, Sione Timani, Kieran Murphy, Gareth Davies, Aled Thomas, Adam Warren.