Preview: Glasgow v Cardiff Blues

Date published: March 29 2012

Glasgow will look to pick up where they left off against Aironi when Cardiff Blues visit Firhill on Friday for another vital PRO12 clash.

Glasgow will look to pick up where they left off against Aironi when Cardiff Blues visit Firhill on Friday for another vital RaboDirect PRO12 clash.

The Warriors go into this weekend's match on the back of a 29-6 win over the Italians six days ago, a result that keeps them firmly in the hunt for the end of season play-offs.

Glasgow have lost only one of their last 14 games in the competition, but know to expect the toughest encounter of the season to date against their fellow semi-final hopefuls from the Welsh capital.

“There's no doubt in my mind that this will be right up there with Test rugby in terms of intensity, physicality and the absolute determination to win from both sides,” said Warriors coach Sean Lineen.

“We're now at the point in the season where there's very little margin for error, and I know I speak for all the players and staff when I say that we relish the challenge of securing another result that allows us to hold or improve our position in the table.

“The game means just as much to Cardiff as it does to us, so another controlled but passionate performance will be required from all 23 guys who'll pull on that Glasgow shirt.”

The Warriors won the first meeting between the teams 34-13 at the Cardiff City Stadium last October, but haven't beaten the Blues at home since a 28-0 win in November 2008.

With the club's Scotland contingent back from Six Nations duty, Lineen says that selection this week has been “one of the toughest” in his six years as head coach.

In all, there are five changes to the starting XV from last week. Two come in the pack, where captain Al Kellock replaces Nick Campbell in the second row, and Rob Harley returns at blindside flanker in a familiar back-row unit where Chris Fusaro and Ryan Wilson also feature.

In the backs, meanwhile, Chris Cusiter will start at scrum-half with Graeme Morrison coming in at inside centre. Federico Aramburu moves to the wing, while Stuart Hogg dons the full-back jersey with Peter Murchie among the replacements.

Meanwhile, the Blues have made five changes to the side that lost to the Scarlets last Saturday.

In the backs, Leigh Halfpenny has recovered from a dead leg and starts at full back in place of Chris Czekaj who doesn't make the matchday 23. Jamie Roberts also makes his first start since returning from international duty and takes his place at inside centre, Daf Hewitt moving to the bench.

There is also a change at fly-half with Ceri Sweeny starting instead of former Glasgow pivot Dan Parks who also doesn't make the 23.

In the forwards, the Blues welcome back Bradley Davies at lock, who starts his first match since his seven week suspension. There is one more change in the back-row with Maama Molitika starting at blindside in place of Michael Paterson who is out with a neck/shoulder injury.

Form: Glasgow Warriors have lost only one of their last 14 RaboDirect PRO12 encounters: 14-16 at Scarlets on 7 January – a run which has included four drawn matches. The Warriors only defeat to a Welsh side this season was 14-16 at Scarlets in round 13. Cardiff Blues have won just one of their last four PRO12 matches: 20-13 in Treviso on 3 March. The Blues' 13-34 home reversal to Glasgow in round five ended a six game winning run against opponents from Scotland. The Warriors are going for a first ever season's double over the Blues, although the Welshmen have won on their last two visits to Firhill.

The teams:

Glasgow: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Federico Aramburu, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Chris Cusiter, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Al Kellock (c), 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Mike Cusack, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Jon Welsh, 18 Moray Low, 19 Richie Gray, 20 John Barclay, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Peter Murchie.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tom James, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Xavier Rush (c), 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Mamma Moitika, 5 James Down, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Ryan Tyrrell, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Marc Breeze, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Sam Hobbs, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Kristian Dacey, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Gavin Henson, 23 Dafydd Hewitt.

Date: Friday, 30 March
Venue: Firhill
Kick-off: 19:35 BST
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)