Preview: Glasgow Warriors v Scarlets

Date published: January 8 2015

Mike Cusack will make his first start for Glasgow Warriors this season, when they take on the Scarlets in the Guinness PRO12 at Scotstoun Stadium on Friday.

Cusack is included for the first time since featuring in the defeat to the Dragons at Rodney Parade in February 2014. It will be his first appearance at Scotstoun since November 2012.

The Scottish qualified prop has battled injury and illness over the past two seasons, but his return is a big boost for the Warriors.

Following the defeat to Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield last week, Peter Murchie keeps his place at full-back and Tommy Seymour is retained on the left wing, while Sean Lamont comes in for Sean Maitland on the opposite side.

The centre partnership remains the same, with Peter Horne at inside centre and Alex Dunbar outside him.

It’s also the same half-back pairing from last week, with Finn Russell at fly-half and Niko Matawalu at scrum-half.

In the pack there is a new front-row, with Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Pat MacArthur and Cusack, coming in for Gordon Reid, Dougie Hall and Jon Welsh.

Tim Swinson replaces Al Kellock in the second-row and he’ll partner Jonny Gray.

Ryan Wilson moves across the back-row to play at openside flanker, replacing the injured Tyrone Holmes. Leone Nakarawa starts at blindside flanker, with Josh Strauss captaining the team from number eight.

“We were disappointed with the performance and result last weekend and the players have been hurting since the game at BT Murrayfield,” said Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend.

“Tomorrow is a great opportunity for them to deliver a much improved performance and show our loyal supporters how hard they are willing to work to bounce back with a win.

“We face a tough challenge against the Scarlets, who are very well-coached and have a number of quality players in their side.

“It’s great to be able to welcome back Mike Cusack for tomorrow’s match. He’s shown a lot of courage over the last couple of seasons and his hard work has been rewarded with a starting place in the team.”

Meanwhile, the Scarlets have made only two changes to the side that was victorious over Ospreys at Parc y Scarlets last weekend with Academy and Carmarthen Quins hooker Ryan Elias getting his first Guinness PRO12 start and South African prop Jacobie Adriaanse back in at tighthead.

Scarlets are without six experienced front-row players in Phil John, Ken Owens, Emyr Phillips, Kirby Myhill, Samson Lee and Rhodri Jones giving the region’s exciting young talent in Ryan Elias, and Myhill’s younger brother Torin who takes his place as replacement hooker, an opportunity to shine.

Scott Williams leads an unchanged backline with last weekend’s man of the match Rhys Priestland taking the helm at fly-half after a strong performance against regional rivals Ospreys.

“This weekend’s game is massive and I don’t think that any one game has more importance over the other in the next month of PRO12 rugby,” said Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac.

“Every PRO12 game, the next three or four especially, are just massive. We’ve got to get points out of all games. On the road for us a minimum would be a bonus point out of them. We go to Glasgow off the back of the Ospreys game full of confidence and going there to try and get maximum points.

“A lot of team have good home records in this competition at the moment – it’s very interesting.

“There’s a hell of a lot of rugby still to be played in the competition. The way it’s headed it looks like it’ll go right down to the wire. It’s a very exciting competition, there are nine teams fighting for six European places and potentially seven teams fighting for four play-off positions.”

Form: Glasgow Warriors three-game winning run in the Pro12 came to an end at Murrayfield on Friday. The Warriors have won their last 14 Pro12 fixtures at Scotstoun since Newport Gwent Dragons were victorious there in November 2013. Glasgow’s solo defeat to a Welsh opponent in their last six such encounters came on a trip to Scarlets in this return fixture in November. Scarlets 22-10 win over Ospreys in Llanelli on Saturday ended a three game losing run in the Pro12. Scarlets are winless in their last twelve away matches in all tournaments since beating Treviso 41-33 at Stadio Monigo in the PRO12 in February 2014. The Warriors won both clashes in the Pro12 last season and Scarlets are out to reverse that statistic this season having won 19-9 at Parc y Scarlets in Round 8. Scarlets have won only twice on Glasgow soil since 2004.

The teams:

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

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Hadleigh Parkes, 13 Regan King, 12 Scott Williams (c), 11 Michael Tagicakibau, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Rob McCusker, 7 John Barclay, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Johan Snyman, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Torin Myhill, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Peter Edwards, 19 George Earle, 20 Lewis Rawlins, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Jordan Williams.

Date: Friday, January 9
Venue: Scotstoun
Kickoff: 19:35 GMT
Referee: George Clancy
Assistant Referees: Andrew McMenemy, Sam Grove-White
TMO: David Changleng