Preview: Glasgow v Dragons

Date published: November 21 2013

Glasgow Warriors have been boosted by the return of Stuart Hogg to their starting line-up for the visit of the Dragons on Friday.

Glasgow Warriors have been boosted by the return of Stuart Hogg to their starting line-up for the visit of Newport Gwent Dragons on Friday.

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Finn Russell will make his first start for the club.

Following a six-week spell on the sidelines Hogg returns at full-back, with Russell lining up at centre alongside DTH van der Merwe.

Byron McGuigan and Niko Matawalu will occupy the wing berths, while fly-half Scott Wight will make only his second start of the season and first since the opening day victory overCardiff Blues, with Henry Pyrgos named at scrum-half.

In the pack Gordon Reid, Dougie Hall and Ed Kalman make up the front row.

After featuring for Scotland against Japan earlier this month, captain Al Kellock returns in the second-row. He will line up alongside Tom Ryder, who makes his second consecutive start. Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro and Richie Vernon make up the back-row.

The final place on the bench (No. 22) will be confirmed later today once Scotland finalise their team.

“After a two week break we're all really looking forward to getting back to playing rugby again,” said Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend.

“We're delighted to welcome Stuart (Hogg) back from injury, especially with a number of players away on international duty. It is also an opportunity for other members of the squad to put their hands up for selection over the coming weeks.

“Finn (Russell) has been working really hard in training and deserves the opportunity. We received impressive reports about him during his four-month spell playing rugby in New Zealand over the summer and he's been a consistent performer for Ayr this season.

“The Dragons have started the season well and I believe they've performed much better than their league position suggests. We're under no illusions as to how difficult tomorrow night's game will be.”

Meanwhile, long-standing Dragons second row Rob Sidoli will once again take on the responsibility of skipper against Glasgow Warriors.

Joining Sidoli in the forwards are Owen Evans, Sam Parry and international prop Francisco Chaparro who make up the front row.

The successful partnership of the skipper and newcomer Cory Hill remains intact in the second row.

Other players to keep their places in the starting line up is young gun James Benjamin from the Dragons Academy who impressed last weekend as open side flanker and Netani Talei who moves to number eight. Joining them in the back-row is Lewis Evans who takes on the challenge of blindside flanker.

As for the backs Dan Evans gets his ninth start of the season as fullback. Alongside Evans are wingers Will Harries and Matthew Pewtner, who holds onto his place on the wing from last week.

The centre pairing consists of Pat Leach who has recently returned from an elbow injury and recently signed Ross Wardle. Jason Tovey then steps back into the fly-half position and Richie Rees comes in as scrum-half.

On the bench for the Dragons, Lyn Jones has made five changes. Elliot Dee, Aaron Coundley, Dan Way keep their places on the bench alongside Matthew Screech, Ieuan Jones, Wayne Evans, Steffan Jones and Ashley Smith.

Form: Glasgow Warriors' only defeat in the RaboDirect PRO12 this season was 6-13 at home to Munster in round 6, this represents the Scotsmen's single defeat at Scotstoun in any competition in 2013. The Warriors have lost only once to a Welsh region in their last nine such encounters: 6-29 at Scarlets in April. The Dragons have lost their last two PRO12 matches to Ospreys and Leinster and have not won away from home in any tournament since visiting Zebre in February. The Dragons have been defeated in their last four clashes with Scottish opponents. Glasgow are unbeaten in their last seven encounters with Dragons since the Welshmen won 23-11 at Rodney Parade in the PRO12 in September 2010, a sequence which has include two draws. The Men from Gwent have not been victorious on Glasgow soil since a trip to Firhill in January 2009.

The teams:

Glasgow: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 DTH van der Merwe, 12 Finn Russell, 11 Niko Matawalu, 10 Scott Wight, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Richie Vernon, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Al Kellock, 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Ed Kalman, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 George Hunter, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 James Eddie, 20 Leone Nakarawa, 21 Josh Strauss, 22 Mark Bennett / Rory Hughes, 23 Jack Steele.

Dragons: 15 Daniel Evans, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Ross Wardle 11 Matthew Pewtner, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Netani Talei, 7 James Benjamin, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Robert Sidoli (c), 4 Cory Hill, 3 Francisco Chaparro, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Owen Evans.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Aaron Coundley, 18 Dan Way, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Ieuan Jones, 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Steffan Jones, 23 Ashley Smith.

Date: Friday, November 22
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Venue: Scotstoun Stadium
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)