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Preview: Northampton v Glasgow

11th October 2012 13:20

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Stuart Hogg

Stuart Hogg: Starts for Warriors

Glasgow are intent on maintaining their fine Pro12 form when they step into the Heineken Cup arena with a trip to Northampton on Sunday.

The Pool 4 clash at Franklin's Gardens sees head coach Gregor Townsend take his team to one of his former clubs, set on securing a fifth straight victory in all competitions.

The Warriors have never before beaten an English Premiership team on their own patch, and with the Saints currently leading that competition, the size of the challenge facing Townsend and his troops this weekend is clear.

Townsend, however, is adamant that Glasgow are equipped with both the ability and attitude to claim a Round 1 triumph in the Midlands.

"The start of the Heineken Cup is always a really exciting time in the calendar, he said.

"This weekend we have the opportunity to achieve something we've never done before, beating a Premiership side in England, and although we know it will be massively tough, we travel with confidence in each other and how we want to play.

"Historically, we've not been fast starters in our pool, and getting results on the board early on is crucial to our firm ambition of qualifying for the knock-out stages.

"It's going to take a very special effort from all 23 players to beat Northampton and establish early momentum in the tournament, but this group certainly has what it takes to achieve that."

Townsend's team for the clash shows three changes from the excellent away win over Cardiff Blues last Saturday. Stuart Hogg - who impressed off the bench having recovered from an ankle injury - lines up at full-back, while Ryan Grant comes in at loosehead prop and Tim Swinson starts in the second row.

Glasgow have gone for a 6/2 forward/back split on the bench, testament to the level of physicality they expect to encounter from the Saints.

Meanwhile, Northampton boss Jim Mallinder wants a massive improvementfrom his side after they suffered their first Premiership defeat in six matches against London Irish last week.

"We know we need to get off to a good start in the Heineken Cup and make the most of starting our campaign at home," he said.

"All of the players have worked hard in training this week and are determined to get another winning run started on Sunday."

The Saints head into Europe sitting at the top of the Premiership Rugby table but Mallinder knows that Glasgow are not to be underestimated.

Two of the Warriors' recent victories were on the road in Cardiff and Swansea which has elevated them to third place in the PRO12 standings.

"You don't win at places like the Arms Park and Liberty Stadium unless you are a good team and Glasgow have shown in the last couple of seasons that they are developing into a dangerous outfit," said Mallinder.

"Gregor Townsend has a squad which is full of international, Heineken Cup and Pro 12 experience, and they have followed up last season's Pro 12 semi-final with a good start to the season.

"From our perspective we know we need to get off to a good start in the Heineken Cup and make the most of starting our campaign at home.

"But if we are to get the result we want we know that nothing less than a massive step up from last weekend's game will do.

"All of the players have worked hard in training this week and are determined to get another winning run started on Sunday."

The teams:

Northampton: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Vasily Artemyev, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Rhys Oakley, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 GJ Van Velze, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May.

Glasgow: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 John Barclay, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Al Kellock (c), 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Mike Cusack, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Ryan Grant.

Replacements: 16 Finlay Gillies, 17 Ofa Fainga'anuku, 18 Gordon Reid, 19 Tom Ryder, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 James Eddie, 22 Niko Matawalu, 23 Peter Murchie.

Date: Sunday, 14 October
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Kick-off: 12:45 BST
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Christophe Berdos (France), Stéphane Boyer (France)
Television match official: Daniel Gillet (France)

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