Preview: Glasgow Warriors v Cardiff Blues

Date published: January 6 2017

Jonny Gray returns to the Glasgow Warriors starting XV to captain the side in their PRO12 game against Cardiff Blues at Scotstoun on Saturday.

Warriors come into the game off the back of four wins, the most recent away to Benetton Treviso on Hogmanay and Gray is one of nine returning players who did not play in that game. 

Peter Murchie and Tommy Seymour retain their place in the back three and are joined by Lee Jones who starts on the left wing after recovering from injury.

In the centres Alex Dunbar and Mark Bennett both return, the duo last combined in Glasgow’s Boxing Day victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

Ali Price and Finn Russell start in the half-back positions, with their last outing together coming in the victory over Racing 92 at Scotstoun last month.

It is an unchanged front row from the Treviso match with Gordon Reid, Pat MacArthur and D’arcy Rae packing down together.

Tim Swinson joins Gray in the second row and will be flanked by the returning Josh Strauss at blindside, Simone Favaro at openside, while Ryan Wilson is at number eight. On the bench James Malcolm and Grayson Hart are included in the matchday 23.

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend said: "This will be our last PRO12 fixture for over a month, so it's a very important game for us.

"We have built up some good momentum in recent weeks through the hard work of our playing squad, and we face another tough challenge tomorrow night.

"Cardiff have been in the top half of the table for the last 18 months and had a great start to the season, including a win against us. They like to play attacking rugby and like us they are used to playing on a fast pitch, so it should be a great occasion in front of another capacity crowd at Scotstoun."

Meanwhile Danny Wilson has made two changes to the Cardiff Blues line-up.

Blaine Scully has recovered from injury and comes in for Rhun Williams on the wing, with Anton Peikrishvili returning from suspension replacing Taufa'ao Filise at tight-head prop.

The Blues will be looking to bounce back from the New Year's Day derby defeat at Scarlets and close the gap on the top six in the PRO12 table.

Wilson was encouraged by elements of that performance but admits the Blues must improve their accuracy to secure results.

The Cardiff Blues head coach said: "We need to pick up league wins to give ourselves a chance to be in that top six. Glasgow will be another tough challenge in a short six-day turn around, but one we will relish.

"If we can play with the hunger and passion we played with in the two derbies and the physicality, it will give us a chance.

"We need to be more accurate with the opportunities we get, but I'm certainly seeing some areas of our game building and improving over the last month. Gregor Townsend has done a fantastic job at Glasgow and at their place with the style of rugby they're playing it will be a big challenge. They play on the same surface we do. If we can be somewhere we've been recently defensively, it gives us a good chance to cause an upset."

New short-term loan signing BJ Edwards is also named amongst the replacements. Edwards linked up with the Blues from Bristol this week and provides cover while George Earle is suspended and Josh Turnbull and Seb Davies are on the sidelines.

Form: Glasgow Warriors have won their last four matches in all tournaments since Munster beat them by a single
point at Scotstoun in round 10 of the PRO12. The Warriors have met Welsh opposition on four occasions this season with their only victory being at Newport Gwent Dragons in Round 5. Cardiff Blues’ two wins in the last eight rounds of the PRO12 were away to Treviso in Round 8 and at home to Dragons on Boxing Day. The Blues two other away wins in the PRO12 this campaign were in Munster in Round 2 and at Zebre in Round 4. The Blues won 23-19 at Arms Park in Round 3 and are attempting to achieve a first season’s double over the Scotsmen since 2010/11. The Blues only previous victory at Scotstoun was 9-7 in the Champions Cup in December 2013.

Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Lee Jones, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Jonny Gray (c), 4 Tim Swinson, 3 D’arcy Rae, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Gordon Reid
Replacements: 16 James Malcolm, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Rob Harley, 20 Adam Ashe, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Sean Lamont

Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Blaine Scully, 10 Steven Shingler, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Ellis Jenkins, 5 James Down, 4 Macauley Cook, 3 Anton Peikrishvili, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rhys Gill
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Jarrad Hoeata, 20 BJ Edwards, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Nicky Robinson, 23 Rhun Williams

Date: Saturday, 7 January
Venue: Scotstoun
Time: 19:35 local 
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Frank Murphy (IRFU), Keith Allan (SRU)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)