Preview: Glasgow v Bath

Date published: October 17 2014

The second-placed Pro12 and Premiership outfits face off at Scotstoun on Saturday when Glasgow Warriors take on Bath.

The second-placed Pro12 and Premiership outfits face off at Scotstoun on Saturday when Glasgow Warriors take on Bath.

Gregor Townsend’s work is being rewarded as Glasgow look to back up last year’s appearance in the Pro12 Final with another run into the knockout stages.

Defeat at Ravenhill last Friday was a setback but it was only their first loss of the season.

Delighted to be starting out at home in a tough Pool 4 alongside Toulouse and Montpellier, Townsend can’t wait for the action to begin.

“Our focus has been on recovery after a lot of effort went into [that] game but we’re really looking forward to the new European competition and it’s fantastic that we’re getting to play at home first against one of the form teams in Europe.”

Bath meanwhile have underlined their lofty ambitions with some blistering performances early in the new season, including the 45-0 thrashing of old rivals Leicester Tigers.

Their last outing however did end in defeat to Wasps, although the fightback from 29-0 down to secure a losing bonus point was an achievement.

Struggling with injuries in the back-row, plenty has been written about a potential move for Toulon flanker Steffon Armitage to the club but the switch has momentarily stalled.

With plenty of options out injured including Springbok flanker Francois Louw, Glasgow will look to win the battle at the breakdown.

Bath head coach Mike Ford is intrigued to find out how his team will fare in tricky conditions.

“This is our first season in the European Rugby Champions Cup for a while, so it’s a tough assignment but one we’re looking forward to,” said Ford.

“I don’t mind playing away from home because I love the challenge. On a wet and windy Saturday afternoon in Glasgow it will be great to see where we’re at against that sort of opposition.”

Bath have won five of their six Heineken Cup games against Glasgow, losing one, with all of them settled by fewer than seven points.

In team news, Glasgow boss Gregor Townsend has brought Stuart Hogg in at full-back, Sean Maitland moves to the right wing and Tommy Seymour continues on the opposite side.

Mark Bennett and Peter Horne remain at centre, while Duncan Weir comes in for Finn Russell at fly-half and Henry Pyrgos continues at scrum-half to complete an all-Scottish back-line.

In the pack Gordon Reid and Euan Murray are retained at loose-head and tight-head respectively, while Pat MacArthur is in for Fraser Brown at hooker.

Last year’s PRO12 Young Player of the Season, Jonny Gray returns to the starting line-up, with Tim Swinson making way, and his partner in the engine room is Fijian Leone Nakarawa.

The only change to the back row which started last weekend’s defeat to Ulster sees Adam Ashe come in for Josh Strauss at number eight and he’ll combine with Rob Harley and Chris Fusaro.

The club’s top try scorer DTH van der Merwe has been named among the replacements, along with Fijian scrum-half Niko Matawalu and Scotland international Finn Russell.

“There has been a heightened level of excitement and anticipation around the club this week, as we get closer to the start of our new European Rugby Champions Cup campaign,” said Townsend.

“It’s great that we’re able to start this season’s European campaign with a home game and we’re expecting a bumper crowd at Scotstoun.

“Bath are one of the form teams in England and seem to be full of confidence.

“We are in a quality group with three of the leading sides in Europe. I imagine that every team in our group has the aim of progressing to the knockout stages and it should make for some fascinating contests.

“We can’t wait for it to all get going on Saturday.”

Meanwhile, front row duo Nick Auterac and Henry Thomas will make their first starts for Bath.

Auterac and Thomas pack down alongside Ross Batty up front, in a side that sees five changes to the one which tasted defeat against Wasps last weekend.

Stuart Hooper leads the side from the second row, with Dave Attwood partnering him.

David Sisi makes his first start of the season at number eight, with Guy Mercer at openside and Dominic Day shifting to the blindside.

Micky Young returns to the starting line-up to partner George Ford in the half-backs, whilst the backline remains unchanged.

The dynamic midfield combination of Kyle Eastmond and Jonathan Joseph are at centre, as flyers Anthony Watson and Semesa Rokoduguni are named out wide. Gavin Henson continues at fullback.

Academy and England U20s pair Charlie Ewels and Tom Ellis are in line to make their Club debuts, should they be called on from the bench.

Form: Glasgow Warriors have made a blistering start to the Pro12, winning their first five games and are currently second in the table. Bath have progressed from the European pool stages once in the past eight years. Bath were also second in their respective league before defeat to Wasps last week, however they proved resilient enough to once again claim a losing bonus point, just as they did at Northampton Saints two weeks earlier.

The teams:

Glasgow: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Henry Pyrgos (c), 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Leone Nakarawa, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Rossouw de Klerk, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Tyrone Holmes, 21 Niko Matawalu, 22 Finn Russell, 23 DTH van der Merwe.

Bath: 15 Gavin Henson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Anthony Watson; 10 George Ford, 9 Micky Young, 8 David Sisi, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Dominic Day, 5 David Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Nick Auterac.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Paul James, 18 David Wilson, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Tom Ellis, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Horacio Agulla

Date: Saturday, October 18
Venue: Scotstoun
Kickoff: 15:15 local
Referee: J