Preview: Glasgow v Montpellier

Date published: January 16 2015

Glasgow welcome Montpellier to Scotstoun on Sunday knowing they must win big to keep their European play-off hopes alive.

Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend reckons his side are hitting top form ahead of this weekend’s crunch clash.

While Montpellier are playing for pride in pool four but Glasgow an still claim their place in the last eight by way of best runners-up if they can win their final two matches.

They will be confident of overcoming the French side on home side after they clinched a 15-13 victory at the Altrad Stadium in round two.

“It was great to get a win in front of our home fans against Scarlets but we know Montpellier will be a different game, they play differently to Scarlets and will pose different threats,” said Townsend.

“Not only was it great to get a win after the defeat to Edinburgh, I think that was the best we have played for a number of weeks.The first half was probably the best we have played since Bath.

“I think it was an ideal game for Mike, there was always going to be a lot of scrums and he worked really hard. He might have not been able to carry as much as the other guys on the field but I thought all four props were outstanding.”

In team news, Townsend has made three changes to the Warriors starting line-up for the visit of Top 14 side.

Canadian winger DTH van der Merwe replaces the injured Sean Lamont and starts on the left wing, with Scotland international Tommy Seymour switching to the opposite side.

The other changes are in the front-row, with props Ryan Grant and Jon Welsh coming in for Jerry Yanuyanutawa and Mike Cusack, who are named amongst the replacements.

That means Peter Murchie is retained at full-back, with Seymour and van der Merwe completing the back three.

Alex Dunbar and Peter Horne continue their centre partnership, while Finn Russell and Niko Matawalu is the half-back pairing.

Alongside Grant and Welsh in the front-row, is hooker Pat MacArthur, with Tim Swinson and Jonny Gray continuing in the engine room.

There are no changes in the back-row, with Leone Nakarawa on the blindside, Ryan Wilson at openside and number eight Josh Strauss once again captaining the team.

Included on the bench is Mark Bennett, who returns after a nine-week spell on the sidelines. The centre could make his first appearance since representing Scotland in the narrow defeat to New Zealand at BT Murrayfield in November.

Also named among the replacements is prop Mike Cusack, who played for 40 minutes of last weekend’s win over the Scarlets, but could make his first appearance for the Warriors in Europe since December 2012.

Scrum-half Henry Pyrgos is also named on the bench after overcoming injury and could feature for the first time since the win over Edinburgh Rugby at the end of December.

Form: Glasgow Warriors are unbeaten in the three meetings between these two sides, winning two and drawing the other. Montpellier have lost their last four away games in the competition and also lost on their one trip to Scotland. In the Pro12, Glasgow’s three-game winning run came to in Edinburgh a fortnight ago but they bounced back with a 22-7 victory over the Scarlets at Scotstoun last week. Montpellier were beaten 20-13 away to Oyonnax in the Top 14, a week after beating Toulon on home soil under new boss Jake White.

The teams:

Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Peter Horne, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 Josh Strauss (c), 7 Ryan Wilson, 6 Leone Nakarawa, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Mike Cusack, 19 James Eddie, 20 Richie Vernon, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Mark Bennett, 23 Sean Maitland.

Montpellier: 15 Benoit Sicart, 14 Yohann Artru, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Lucas Dupont, 10 Ben Lucas, 9 Teddy Iribaren, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Antoine Battut, 5 Thibaut Privat (c), 4 Robins Tchale Watchou, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Mickael Ivaldi, 1 Yvan Watremez.
Replacements: 16 Thomas Bianchin, 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga, 18 David Attoub, 19 Alexandre Bias, 20 Kelian Galletier, 21 Benoit Paillaugue, 22 Enzo Selponi, 23 Viriviri Nasagavesi.

Date: Sunday, 18 January
Venue: Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow
Kick-off: 13.00 GMT
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England); Robin Goodliffe (England)