Preview: Glasgow v Scarlets

Date published: February 9 2012

Glasgow Warriors begin a key phase of their RaboDirect PRO12 campaign when they take on the Scarlets at Firhill on Thursday.

Glasgow Warriors begin a key phase of their RaboDirect PRO12 campaign when they take on the Scarlets at Firhill on Thursday.

The match is the first in a series of fixtures that will be crucial to the Warriors' bid to make the end of season tournament play-offs. After 13 regular season matches, they sit fourth in the competition table, one point ahead of this week's visitors.

As well as seeking to keep the pressure on Leinster, Ospreys and Munster, Sean Lineen's men will be out to avenge the 16-14 defeat they suffered to the same opposition in Llanelli.

In team news, Glasgow have confirmed the 23 that will look to record a seventh win in eight home games. The Warriors pack for the fixture features seven forwards who comprehensively dominated their Saxons counterparts in a 35-0 success for Scotland A last Friday.

Four members of the wider Scotland squad for the first two matches of the Six Nations will be part of the Glasgow front eight: Dougie Hall, Jon Welsh, Tom Ryder and Rob Harley.

Welsh will start at tighthead prop, having moved to the right-hand side of the scrum to positive effect in the Warriors' Heineken Cup matches against Leinster and Bath as well as for Scotland A in Galashiels.

Behind the scrum, meanwhile, there is a welcome return for fly-half Ruaridh Jackson, who has recovered well from a recent upper leg injury to make his first appearance since January 6 – when Glasgow were narrowly edged out by Scarlets in the first part of what is effectively a RaboDirect PRO12 double header.

Jackson will be partnered by scrum-half Henry Pyrgos, who became the 11th player to sign a long-term contract extension with the club in recent months.

The side will be captained by inside centre Graeme Morrison, who is the fifth member of the Scotland squad to be made available to the Warriors.

On the bench, there are spots for three members of their Elite Development programme, from which full-back/centre Stuart Hogg has emerged to such impressive effect this season.

Tighthead prop George Hunter stands to make his debut and scrum-half Murray McConnell only his second appearance, while lock Nick Campbell is in line for his first taste of action since September, having recovered from a knee injury.

“As I've underlined many times already this week, the Scarlets game is huge for us,” said head coach Sean Lineen.

“They're a very talented and savvy team who have their own play-off aspirations. It's vital we kick off this next phase in our season in the best possible fashion, and it's going to take a big performance from every single player to achieve that.”

Meanwhile, the Scarlets have named an almost identical starting XV to the team that lost to Sale in the LV=Cup last weekend.

The backs remain unchanged with some shifts in the pack with Iestyn Thomas coming back from injury and Josh Turnbull returning to the back row after recovering from a shoulder injury. Matt Gilbert gets the number eight jersey with Kieran Murphy on the bench.

Form: Glasgow Warriors have won just one of their last six matches in all competitions: 17-12 over Edinburgh in the 1812 game at Firhill on New Year's Day. The Warriors have won their last four encounters at Firhill in the RaboDirect PRO12 since their 13-15 reversal there to Treviso on 23 September. Scarlets have been victorious in their last three RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures, whilst their only defeat in their last eight matches in the tournament was 17-24 in Ulster on 2 December. The Welshmen have won their last six games against Scottish opponents. Scarlets have won their last three clashes with Glasgow since the Warriors' 37-32 victory at Parc y Scarlets on 7 May 2010.

The teams:

Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Troy Nathan, 12 Graeme Morrison (c), 11 David Lemi, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Tom Ryder, 4 Rob Verbakel, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Fergus Thomson, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 George Hunter, 19 Nick Campbell, 20 Calum Forrester, 21 Murray McConnell, 22 Alex Dunbar, 23 Scott Wight.

Scarlets: 15 Dan Newton, 14 Viliami Iongi, 13 Gareth Maule (capt), 12 Adam Warren, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Gareth Davies,8 Matt Gilbert, 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Dominic Day 4 Sione Timani, 3 Peter Edwards,2 Emyr Phillips ,1 Iestyn Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Craig Hawkins, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Kieran Murphy, 21 Liam Davies, 22 Nick Reynolds, 23 Daniel Evans.

Date: Thursday, 9 Februay
Venue: Firhill
Kick-off: 19:05 GMT
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)