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Preview: Glasgow v Connacht

19th September 2012 10:54

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Henry Pyrgos for Glasgow Warriors

Henry Pyrgos: Starts at nine for Glasgow

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend has made four changes to his starting XV for Friday's clash with Connacht at Scotstoun Stadium.

In the backs, Sean Lamont comes in for Tommy Seymour on the wing and Henry Pyrgos replaces shoulder injury victim Chris Cusiter at scrum-half.

Up front, meanwhile, Moray Low has recovered from a calf complaint to start at tight-head prop. Ryan Wilson, who missed the Ospreys game to be present at the birth of his daughter Ava, resumes his number eight duties, with flanker Chris Fusaro rested for this match.

Tim Swinson, a key summer signing from Newcastle Falcons, could make his competitive Warriors debut off the bench after recovering from a facial injury sustained in the pre-season friendly against Sale Sharks.

Stand-off Scott Wight and centre Troy Nathan are also set for their first action of the campaign, with both having been included among the replacements.

"This is another strong team we're sending out," said Townsend.

"We're clearly disappointed to lose a scrum-half of the calibre of Chris Cusiter for what looks likely to be a significant period of time, but Henry Pyrgos is a player who works very hard on his game, and we'll also be welcoming (Fiji international) Niko Matawalu to the fold in the next few days.

"Both individually and collectively, the pack performed well last week in Swansea, and we'll be looking to them to bring the same relentlessness to the set-piece and contact area on Friday.

"It's great for us that Tim Swinson has recovered from his injury. He's a quality second row with considerable experience and nous, and we're looking forward to seeing him at work.

"Scott Wight has been pushing hard for an opportunity, and we've made it clear from the start of pre-season that it's very much a three-way battle between him, Duncan Weir and Ruaridh Jackson for the number 10 jersey.

"As ever in this competition, we need 23 players at the top of their game come Friday night. We're firmly focussed on the challenge of beating Connacht and are relishing the prospect of getting back out there in front of our own supporters."

Townsend is expecting another tough encounter this time round.

"Connacht are a battle-hardened, very proud unit whose defeat to tournament leaders Scarlets last weekend didn't reflect how well they performed in the game.

"Our recent record against them underlines just how disciplined, aggressive and accurate a performance will be required to follow up our excellent win over Ospreys with another victory this weekend.

"As a group, we are really energised by the opportunity to give our supporters a first win at Scotstoun, but are fully aware of what it will take to bring about a positive result."

Meanwhile, Eric Elwood has made eight changes to the team that ran out against the Scarlets last weekend.

In the backs, Mark McCrea and James Loxton replace Fetu'u Vainikolo and Tiernan O'Halloran on the wings respectively, with Matthew Jarvis coming in at fly-half for Miah Nikora, who takes a well-deserved break.

The 19-year-old Robbie Henshaw gets his first start for the province after making an appearance and notable impact from the bench in all three RaboDirect PRO12 games so far. Henshaw takes over at inside centre from Eoin Griffin, who is resting an ankle injury.

David McSharry, who in superb fashion burst back onto the scene last Saturday against the Scarlets, will be Henshaw's partner in a young, new-look centre combination.

Up front, meanwhile, hooker Adrian Flavin, who made his 100th league appearance last time out, replaces Ethienne Reynecke. He is joined in the front-row by Brett Wilkinson and recent debutant Nathan White.

George Naoupu started at number eight against the Cardiff Blues and Zebre but on Friday he will link up in the second-row with David Gannon, who is set for his first start after three consecutive weeks of replacement appearances.

Willie Faloon, who made an impressive full debut for Connacht last weekend, continues in an all-new back-row trio which sees Johnny O'Connor move from openside to blindside flanker

On the bench, Michael Swift takes a well-earned rest for this match while Academy members Kevin O'Byrne and Jack Carty are in line for their first action of the campaign, with both players having been included among the replacements.

Form: The Warriors' only victory in their last six PRO12 encounters with Irish provinces was 24-3 against Connacht in this equivalent fixture last season. Connacht's solo win in their last four contests was over Italian new boys Zebre in round two. The Irishmen have recorded just one victory in Scotland since 2006: 19-17 against Glasgow at Firhill on 17 September 2010. The Warriors' 24-3 win over Connacht at Firhill in May snapped a four game winless run against the Irish province. Connacht have triumphed just twice on Glasgow home turf, in 2003 and 2010.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Peter Horne, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 John Barclay, 6 James Eddie, 5 Al Kellock (c), 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Moray Low, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Finlay Gillies, 17 Mike Cusack, 18 Gordon Reid, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Angus Macdonald, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Scott Wight, 23 Troy Nathan.

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (capt), 14 James Loxton, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 David McSharry, 11 Mark McCrea, 10 Matthew Jarvis, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Johnny O'Connor, 5 David Gannon, 4 George Naoupu, 3 Nathan White, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Kevin O'Byrne, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Michael Swift, 20 Michael Kearney, 21 David Moore, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Mata Fifita.

Date: Friday, September 21
Venue: Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow
Kick-off: 19.35 BST (18.35 GMT)
Referee: Alain Rolland (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Peter Allan, Adrian Graves (both SRU)
Citing commissioner: John Kirk (SRU)
TMO: Jim Yuille (SRU)

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Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Glasgow vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Ospreys vs Connacht19:35
Leinster vs Edinburgh19:35
Saturday , November 1
Cardiff Blues vs Munster17:15
Scarlets vs Zebre18:00
Ulster vs Newport Gwent D'gons19:35
Friday , November 21
Connacht vs Zebre19:35
Ulster vs Ospreys19:35
Scarlets vs Glasgow19:35
Saturday , November 22
Newport Gwent D'gons vs MunsterTBC
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Sunday , October 12
Ospreys 26 - 15 Cardiff BluesOspreys vs Cardiff Blues Report
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Edinburgh 24 - 10 Newport Gwent D'gonsEdinburgh vs Newport Gwent D
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Benetton Treviso 6 - 9 ConnachtBenetton Treviso vs Connacht Report
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Benetton Treviso 23 - 40 Glasgow
Scarlets 26 - 13 Newport Gwent D'gonsScarlets vs Newport Gwent D
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Friday , October 3
Connacht 24 - 24 Cardiff Blues
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PosTeamPPts
1Ospreys626
2Glasgow Warriors623
3Ulster622
4Munster619
5Connacht618