Preview: Glasgow Warriors v Munster

Date published: January 13 2017

Gregor Townsend has named his Glasgow side to face Munster in the European Rugby Champions Cup at Scotstoun Stadium on Saturday.

Having been rested in last week’s victory over Cardiff Blues, Stuart Hogg returns to the side at full-back.

Fresh from signing a new deal with the club, Tommy Seymour starts on the right wing after his man-of-the-match performance against the Welsh side last Saturday, with Lee Jones named on the other wing.

Alex Dunbar and Mark Bennett continue their partnership in midfield, as do Ali Price and Finn Russell in the half-back positions.

In the front row, Fraser Brown and Zander Fagerson are recalled to the starting XV joining Gordon Reid.

Tim Swinson is another to have pledged his future to the club this week and he joins captain Jonny Gray in the middle of the pack.

Rob Harley starts at blindside flanker, joining Ryan Wilson at openside and Josh Strauss at number eight to complete the side.

On the bench there are potential European debuts for D’arcy Rae and Matt Fagerson in the forward pack.

Centurions Pat MacArthur, Chris Fusaro and Peter Murchie will look to bring their experience to the game should they come on and they are joined amongst the replacements by Nick Grigg and Scotland Internationals Alex Allan and Grayson Hart. 

Glasgow Warriors head coach Townsend said: "It’s great to be involved in such a key European game and our players are looking forward to the match.

"We’ve built up some good momentum over the past few weeks, but Munster are also in a rich vein of form so we are going to have to deliver a big performance to get a win tomorrow night. 

"They work hard as a team, whether it’s in the set-piece in defence or on kick-chase so the Scotstoun crowd will need to be even louder than they were last weekend to drive our players throughout the contest.

"It is exciting for D’arcy (Rae) and Matt (Fagerson) to be involved in their first European fixture. D’arcy has started the last two matches and played really well and we’re seeing him improve every time he plays.

"It is Matt’s first year in the Academy and he has made a lot of progress in a short period of time. He is aggressive and dynamic, and I’m certain he'll take the game to the opposition should he come on."

Meanwhile, Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has named his matchday 23 for the trip to Scotstoun.

There are four changes to the side that defeated Racing 92 last weekend with three in the pack and one in the backline.

In the front-row loosehead prop Dave Kilcoyne starts this weekend with Niall Scannell and John Ryan continuing at hooker and tighthead respectively.

Behind them sees Donnacha Ryan switch sides in the second-row with the Tipperary lock joined by Jean Kleyn, who has overcome last week's illness to make his first European start for the province.

Jack O'Donoghue takes the place of the injured Tommy O'Donnell in the back-row as captain Peter O'Mahony and CJ Stander continue at blindside and number eight.

Conor Murray and Tyler Bleyendaal are again the half-back pairing, with no change to the midfield partnership of Rory Scannell and Jaco Taute.

The final changes sees Keith Earls start on the wing this week joining last week's try scorers Andrew Conway and Simon Zebo in the back three.

Form: After back-to-back wins over Racing 92 in Rounds 3 and 4, Glasgow are on track for a third consecutive tournament victory for just the second time in their history (2011). Munster have won four of their five previous games against Scottish opposition in the Champions Cup, although they did lose on their last trip to Scotland (v Edinburgh 2013). If Munster manage to win at Scotstoun on Saturday they will book a place in the quarter-finals. Glasgow have scored 130 points in their last four home games in Europe's top flight, winning all four and conceding just 31 in reply. Two-time tournament winners, Munster, have conceded just 42 points this season, fewer than any other side. They're also the only team to have conceded less than one try per game on average (three in four games). Mark Bennett has averaged 14.9 metres per carry, the best average gain of any player to make at least 10 carries. CJ Stander has made 15 more carries (69) than any other player this season, and he is one of 12 players to play every minute of the opening four rounds. Munster and Ireland scrum-half, Conor Murray, has five try assists, equal top with Connacht's Jack Carty. Glasgow have this season's two leading tacklers in Jonny Gray (62/64) and Ryan Wilson (49/58). Munster have averaged more turnovers won per game (10) than any other side in the campaign. Glasgow however have conceded the joint fewest turnovers of any side on average (11 per game).

The teams:

Glasgow: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Lee Jones, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Ryan Wilson, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray (c), 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Gordon Reid
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Alex Allan, 18 D’arcy Rae, 19 Matt Fagerson, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Nick Grigg, 23 Peter Murchie

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Jack O'Donoghue, 6 Peter O'Mahony (c), 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 James Cronin, 18 Thomas Du Toit, 19 Dave Foley, 20 Billy Holland, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Francis Saili

Date: Saturday, January 14
Venue: Scotstoun Stadium
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant Referees: Matthew Carley (England), Wayne Falla (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

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