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Preview: Glasgow v Connacht

04th May 2012 13:25

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Tom Ryder: Returns to the second row

Glasgow boss Sean Lineen has made a massive seven changes for his side's crucial RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Connacht.

The Warriors head into the game knowing that a draw will be enough to see them into the play-offs, but that a loss could result in either Scarlets or Ulster pipping them for fourth spot.

Despite securing a win over Treviso in their last PRO12 encounter, Lineen has made a host of changes for Connacht's visit.

There is an all-new front row, with Jon Welsh, Dougie Hall and Moray Low teaming up while Tom Ryder comes in at lock.

Amongst the backs, DTH van der Merwe makes his first start of the season out wide, having been sidelined by a shoulder injury. He is joined on the wing by Federico Aramburu who replaces Tommy Seymour and takes over the captaincy from the benched Al Kellock.

"There's been a lot of talk outside the camp about the various play-off scenarios, but our message to the players has been very simple," Lineen told the club's official website.

"This will be a hugely difficult game against tenacious and confident opponents, and our minds will be focussed on one thing and one thing only: doing whatever it takes to win the match.

"Collectively, we've worked massively hard all year to give ourselves this opportunity. It's about everyone concerned bringing the same intensity, accuracy and spirit they have done throughout the campaign and making sure we earn the right to prolong our season."

Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has made three changes to the team that beat Aironi two weeks ago, two up front and one among the backs.

Adrian Flavin replaces Ethienne Reynecke at hooker and Johnny O'Connor comes in for Ray Ofisa on the flank. The game will be Ofisa's last for Connacht.

Exciting youngster Eoin Griffin returns in the midfield and as a result Kyle Tonetti switches to the wing.

Currently in eighth spot on the table, Connacht can only go backwards, and Elwood is determined that this will not happen.

"Glasgow are riding high in the league at the moment, their coach is leaving, they're leaving Firhill and they are also gunning for a top four position so we know the pressure's on them and they'll be coming out all guns blazing but at the same time we're looking to cause an upset and finish a record 8th, that would be a very good return for us this season," he told the club's official website.

"We're really looking to finish on a high and saying goodbye to some great servants of the club, that goes for everyone, from fella's like Henry (Fa'afili) who has been here for just a year to the likes of Ray (Ofisa) who's been here for over six years and we'd like to give them the send-off they deserve, and on top of that wish (CEO) Gerry Kelly the best of luck in his retirement as well so we're really looking to a big performance on Saturday."

Form: Connacht have won their last three matches but have not won four in a row in the tournament since season 2002/03. Connacht's only defeat to a Scottish opponent in their last five such encounters was 14-19 at Edinburgh on 16 September 2011. The Warriors have not beaten Connacht since the Irish province visited Firhill on 23 October 2009, but have recorded two draws in that time. This will be Warriors last game at Firhill before their move to Scotstoun Stadium over the summer.

The teams:

Glasgow: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Federico Aramburu (capt), 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 John Barclay, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Moray Low, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Jon Welsh.
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Mike Cusack, 18 Ryan Grant, 19 Al Kellock, 20 Calum Forrester, 21 Chris Cusiter, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Colin Shaw.

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (C), 14 Kyle Tonetti, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Henry Fa'afili, 11 Tiernan O'Halloran, 10 Miah Nikora, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Johnny O'Connor, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Ronan Loughney, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dermot Murphy, 17 Stewart Maguire, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Ray Ofisa, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 James Loxton.

Date: Saturday, May 5
Venue: Firhill Stadium
Kick-off: 19:30 (18:30 GMT)
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon
Assistant referees: Andy Macpherson, Andy Ireland

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