Glasgow Warriors are away to the Dragons tonight in Newport as Guinness PRO14 action resumes following a short break.
The Glasgow Warriors squad is a much depleted one with various players away on international duty and even more injured. Nine players are away with the Scotland squad while fourteen players are listed as injured including three hookers. One could pick a very strong team for Glasgow from the injured players alone with a good match day squad there if it was topped up with the players away on international duty.
Taking a look at the squads for tonight’s game it was interesting to note that Brandon Thomson has been selected to play as centre for Glasgow Warriors while Zane Kirchner is due to start at flyhalf for Dragons. It would be interesting to hear from those in the know about how often Thomson and Kirchner have played in these positions at professional level if at all. I can remember quite a long time ago fullback Zane Kirchner played in the number 13 jersery for the Springboks but don’t recall him playing at flyhalf. He has also featured on the wing for Leinster when he was still with them. Likewise, Brandon Thomson is becoming Mr Versatile for Glasgow Warriors as the former Stormers flyhalf shifts into the centre and also can play fullback, in fact I have even seen him playing on the wing for the Warriors.
The official preview of the match from PRO14 lists the battle between Zane Kirchner and Adam Hastings as one of the key battles of the game. Glasgow Warrior fans will be hoping it is a battle that Hastings wins:
Glasgow Warriors visit Dragons looking to extend their 15-point lead at the top of Conference A as the Guinness PRO14 heats up as we approach the final third of the season.
However, they won’t have it all their own way at a Dragons side who will want to put more distance between them and Southern Kings at the bottom of Conference B.
What’s at stake? Conference A leaders Glasgow will face a difficult challenge at Rodney Parade, with Bernard Jackman bringing about improved displays from his charges in recent weeks.
The Warriors will have to be on their game to avoid a potential upset and just their second loss of the season.
Team News (Dragons): Dragons welcome Wales internationals Hallam Amos, Tyler Morgan and Leon Brown back into the team, with Amos taking the 15 jersey.
No.8 Harrison Keddie takes over the captain’s armband with Cory Hill away on international duty with the Wales squad.
Team News (Glasgow): Glasgow are missing a number of Scotland internationals including Finn Russell and Jonny Gray, but welcome Ratu Tagive back from injury
Tagive replaces Niko Matawalu on the wing for his first start of the season after a pre-season Achilles injury.
Talking Points: Dragons defence coach Hendre Marnitz said is buoyed by the return of Morgan, who he hopes can inspire a famous win.
“It’s always good to have your international players back,” he said.. We all know that Tyler Morgan is a special player with loads of X-factor.
“It’s good to have him back and the club to have a very competitive environment. Suddenly there are a lot of players competing for a couple of positions, which lifts training and the environment.
“Jarryd Sage and Connor Edwards did well against Worcester, Jack Dixon and Adam Warren were very good against Bordeaux-Begles and Sam Beard has had a couple of good games.”
Glasgow Warriors Head Coach Dave Rennie said: “We gave the boys ten days off after Exeter and they came back in enthused and looking sharp.
“Ratu has worked hard on his rehab and has played a bit of club footy the past few weeks. He’s a hell of an athlete and we’re excited to see how he goes.
“The Dragons are a strong side, especially at home and we’re going to have to play well across the board to get a result.”
Key Battle: Zane Kirchner vs Adam Hastings
In a battle of youth against experience at fly-half, Dragons’ Zane Kirchner will be looking to continue his progress after recently returning from a dislocated shoulder.
The 33-year-old Springbok will be expected to guide promising Wales under-20 scrum-half Sam Babos as Dragons eye the win.
Young fly-half Hastings will be eager to step up and prove himself in the absence of Warriors’ talisman Finn Russell.
Hastings has spent time training with the full Scotland squad this week and his partnership with half-back partner George Horne may prove crucial to Glasgow’s chances.
Key Stat: In 28 previous meetings in the Guinness PRO14, Glasgow and Dragons have each won 13 games and drawn twice.
Did you know? Glasgow have won all four encounters they have played against Welsh regions this season
Dragons: Hallam Amos, Adam Warren, Tyler Morgan, Jack Dixon, Jared Rosser, Zane Kirchner, Dan Babos; Sam Hobbs, Liam Belcher, Lloyd Fairbrother, Joe Davies, Rynard Landman, Aaron Wainwright, James Benjamin, Harri Keddie
Replacements; Ellis Shipp, Gerard Ellis, Leon Brown, Henri Williams, Lennon Greggains, Sarel Pretorius, Gavin Henson, Jarryd Sage.
Glasgow Warriors: Ruaridh Jackson, Lee Jones, Nick Grigg, Brandon Thomson, Ratu Tagive, Adam Hastings, George Horne, Alex Allan, James Malcolm, Siua Halanukonuka, Rob Harley, Greg Peterson, Matt Fagerson, Chris Fusaro, Adam Ashe
Replacements: Grant Stewart, Oli Kebble, D’Arcy Rae, Kiran McDonald, Matt Smith, Henry Pyrgos, Paddy Kelly, Niko Matawalu
Match Officials: Referee: Andrew Brace
Assistant Referees: Nigel Correll, Dewi Phillips
TMO: Wayne Davies (WRU)