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Preview: Connacht v Glasgow

01st November 2013 09:27

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DOUGIE HALL GLASGOW

Landmark: Dougie Hall

Dougie Hall will make his 150th league appearance on Saturday when he starts for Glasgow Warriors away to Connacht.

The experienced hooker replaces Pat MacArthur for the trip to Galway.

Niko Matawalu comes in for Sean Maitland at full-back, while Byron McGuigan and DTH van der Merwe continue on either wing.

Mark Bennett and Gabriel Ascarate form the centre partnership, while Duncan Weir and Chris Cusiter continue at fly-half and scrum-half respectively.

In the pack Gordon Reid and Jon Welsh complete the front-row, while Jonny Gray and Tom Ryder combine in the second-row.

Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro and Josh Strauss make up the backrow.

The Warriors have won all three of their away games in the Pro12 this season and have won on two of their last three visits to Ireland.

"We were all disappointed with the defeat to Munster last weekend and we're determined to pick ourselves up for what will be another tough game tomorrow night," said Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend.

"Connacht are playing very well under Pat Lam and came very close to beating Saracens and Leinster in recent weeks, so we know how difficult this game will be.

"Due to the upcoming autumn tests we've made a few changes, which is an opportunity for a number of other players in the squad."

Meanwhile, Connacht midfielder Dave McSharry returns to the fray for his first start in ten months and is named at inside centre. The 23-year-old marked his return from injury last month by coming on as a replacement in the 33-6 Heineken Cup victory over Zebre.

Joining McSharry in the centre is 20-year-old Darragh Leader who made his first senior appearance away to Ospreys last season. The utility back has impressed the management through his performances in training and with the Connacht Eagles.

Connacht's leading try scorer Fionn Carr is named on the right wing in a back three featuring Gavin Duffy and Matt Healy.

Up front, Jason Harris-Wright will start as hooker in his 25th appearance for the province.

The replacements bench includes veteran tighthead prop Nathan White who returns after a three-week absence due to injury. Mick Kearney is also included in the match day squad and could earn his first appearance of the season.

"I'm delighted to be able to give Dave McSharry a start after a long road to recovery for him. And with our regular outside centres unavailable, young Academy back Darragh Leader gets a chance to start which we're all looking forward to," Head Coach Pat Lam told the Connacht website.

"Once again, it's been a disruptive week with more players being added to our ever growing injury list. Losing Sean Henry, Andrew Browne, Aaron Conneely, and Danie Poolman to injury and Robbie Henshaw to Ireland camp has meant that we've had to dig deep as a group.

"On a positive note, it's a big boost to have Jason and Nathan back in the squad. We've been really pleased with the form of our props Rodney and Brett in the last number of weeks and so they'll start again tomorrow with Nathan on the bench.

"Glasgow are at the top end of the table and are a team who have been consistently improving the last number of years. I witnessed their last visit in May when I had first arrived here. They were an impressive outfit and very clinical in beating us. They are one of the best defensive outfits in the competition and will punish any errors.

"But we have been building and building on the performances and fight of the last few weeks and are really looking forward to this clash."

Form: Connacht's tense late defeat at Leinster on Saturday, having led for virtually the whole game, sees them prop up the RaboDirect PRO12 table for the first time since season 2005/06. The Irishmen's solo victory at the Sportsground since March was 25-16 over Zebre in round one. Glasgow Warriors tripped up to a first defeat in the PRO12 this season at home to Munster on Friday, their first reversal in the regular season since April. The Warriors have won all three away games they have played in the PRO12 this season, and have won on two of their last three visits to Ireland. Connacht have not beaten Glasgow since an encounter at the Galway Sportsground in February 2011.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Fionn Carr, 14 Darragh Leader, 13 Dave McSharry, 12 Matt Healy, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Mata Fifita, 5 Craig Clarke, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Brett Wilkinson
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 JP Cooney, 18 Nathan White, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Mick Kearney, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Tiernan O'Halloran

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Niko Matawalu, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Gabriel Ascarate, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Chris Cusiter (c), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 , 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 , 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Niko Matawalu, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Mark Bennett.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Venue: Sportsground
Kick-off: 17:00
Referee: Neil Paterson (SRU)
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan, Ken Imbusch (both IRFU)
Television match official: Denis Templeton (IRFU)

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Friday , April 18
Leinster vs Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Preview
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Zebre vs Edinburgh14:30
Connacht vs Munster18:15
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PosTeamPPts
1Leinster1969
2Ulster1965
3Munster1963
4Glasgow Warriors1860
5Ospreys1956