Glasgow Warriors will be out to avenge a double Irish disappointment when they take on Ulster at Firhill on Friday (kick-off 7.35pm, live on BBC ALBA).
Sean Lineen’s team have the dual motivation of looking to bounce back both from the Heineken Cup loss sustained away to European champions Leinster three days ago, and from the defeat they suffered at Ravenhill on the first night of the RaboDirect PRO12 season.
The Dublin reverse last weekend was the Warriors’ first in six games. The previous time they ended up on the wrong side of the final scoreline, against Benetton Treviso back in September, they embarked on a five-match winning run that saw Cardiff Blues, Dragons, Ospreys, Aironi and Bath all put to the sword.
The Ulster game will see Glasgow on the trail of a fifth straight RaboDirect PRO12 win, and a fourth successive triumph at Firhill in all competitions.
Head coach Lineen today called for a “big reaction” to defeat at the RDS, “We were disappointed with the manner of our loss to Leinster, and as a group we’ve been working hard all week to address the areas where we didn’t get it right. The players have shown great character and determination in the last couple of months, securing a number of excellent results in the process, and that’s what we’re looking for in spades come Friday night.
“Ulster are a tough proposition all over the field: we’ll need to show real aggression in contact and appetite for the battle. The guys have delivered that many times already this season, so I’ve every confidence they’ll put in a much improved performance.”
Lineen has made six changes to his starting line-up. Samoa World Cup winger David Lemi, a renowned English Premiership try scorer with London Wasps and Bristol, makes his Glasgow debut in a backline where Federico Aramburu (wing), Troy Nathan (outside centre, pictured) and RDS try-scorer Henry Pyrgos (scrum-half) also come into the mix.
Up front, loose-head prop Jon Welsh makes his first start since suffering an ankle injury against the same opponents back in September, while Tom Ryder comes into the second row. Having played for Ayr in the British and Irish Cup last weekend, tight-head Moray Low is among the Glasgow replacements and is set to make his first club appearance of the campaign.
Lineen said: “We’ve freshened things up a little bit this weekend, while also being mindful of the need to have options on the bench for what is sure to be another tight match. David Lemi has already made clear his class in training, and he’s the sort of player our fans will really take to. Henry has been progressing well and deserves a start, and it’s also really pleasing to have Jon and Moray back fit and chomping at the bit for games.
“Tom Ryder has been one of our most consistent players so far this season, and he’s pushing Al [Kellock] and Richie [Gray] very hard. It’s great to have that level of competition, as it should raise everyone’s game.”
Meanwhile, RaboDirect PRO12 and the associated host broadcasters have today confirmed the schedule for Rounds 13-19 of the tournament. The Glasgow Warriors fixtures are as follows, with the date and time for the match against Cardiff Blues on the weekend of 30 March to be announced in the coming days.
Saturday 7 January Scarlets v Glasgow Warriors, Parc y Scarlets, kick-off 6.15pm, S4C
Thursday 9 February Glasgow Warriors v Scarlets, Firhill, kick-off 7.05pm, BBC Wales
Saturday 18 February Connacht v Glasgow Warriors, Sportsground, kick-off 5.30pm, TG4
Saturday 25 February Glasgow Warriors v Leinster, Firhill, kick-off 6pm, BBC ALBA
Friday 2 March Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors, Liberty Stadium, kick-off 7.05pm, BBC Wales
Friday 23 March Glasgow Warriors v Aironi, Firhill, kick-off 7.35pm, BBC ALBA
Weekend of 30 March Glasgow Warriors v Cardiff Blues. Precise date and kick-off time TBC
15 Stuart Hogg
14 David Lemi
13 Troy Nathan
12 Graeme Morrison
11 Federico Aramburu
10 Duncan Weir
9 Henry Pyrgos
1 Jon Welsh
2 Pat MacArthur
3 Mike Cusack
4 Tom Ryder
5 Al Kellock (captain)
6 Rob Harley
7 John Barclay
8 Ryan Wilson
16 Finlay Gillies
17 Ryan Grant
18 Moray Low
19 Richie Gray
20 Chris Fusaro
21 Chris Cusiter
22 Alex Dunbar
23 Colin Shaw
Not considered for selection due to injury:
Johnnie Beattie (back),
Rob Dewey (shoulder),
Dougie Hall (hamstring),
Ruaridh Jackson (hamstring),
Peter Murchie (shoulder),
Fergus Thomson (shoulder),
DTH van der Merwe (shoulder),
Scott Wight (groin).