Glasgow Warriors head coach Sean Lineen has challenged his team to take their game “up another gear” when they go on the trail of their fifth consecutive victory in Sunday’s Heineken Cup Pool 3 opener against Bath at Firhill (kick-off 12.45pm).
The visit from the Recreation Ground side gives the Warriors the opportunity to claim a third European home win in as many seasons against English opposition, Gloucester and London Wasps having been seen off in December 2009 and January 2011 respectively.
Encouraging as these portents are, Lineen is well aware that has side must deliver their “best performance of the season so far” if they are to see off an outfit to whom they twice lost narrowly in the 2008/9 campaign.
Confident Lineen commented: “This is an absolutely massive match for everyone connected with Glasgow Warriors, and we’ll have to be right at the top of our game in every aspect of our performance to continue our good recent run.
“Bath’s record in the tournament speaks for itself. They won it in 1998, reached the semi-finals in 2006 and have made the quarters on three other occasions. That’s an indication of the experience and winning mentality they’ll bring to the table, and it’s going to take a huge effort from us to get the right result.
“The good thing is that we’re heading into the match with confidence, having strung together a few wins, and a few different types of win. Last week against Aironi, for example, we really had to tough it out and the guys did well to hold their nerve. If we perform as we’ve shown we can, from the first minute to the last, I’ve every confidence we’ll be right in contention.”
The Glasgow starting line-up for Sunday’s game shows eight changes from that which ran out in Viadana. Behind the scrum, Stuart Hogg comes in at full-back, Rob Dewey and Graeme Morrison resume their centre pairing, while Colin Shaw replaces Federico Aramburu on the wing.
Up front, meanwhile, hooker Pat MacArthur and tight-head prop Mike Cusack return to the front row, while Rob Harley and Ryan Wilson take up residence at blindside flanker and No.8 respectively.
Lineen explained: “The sides for the Ospreys and Aironi games were selected on the basis that we wanted first and foremost to win, but also to give as many players as possible the opportunity to stake their claim for this match. We’re very happy with the picture that’s emerged from that process, and the intensity the guys have shown in training all week has been very pleasing to see ahead of such a big game.
“We need to start strongly and get the Firhill crowd right behind us – they’ve shown on days like this in the past that they can make a real difference by creating a pretty raucous atmosphere, and we’d all dearly love to see that again on Sunday.”
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Rob Dewey
12 Graeme Morrison
11 Colin Shaw
10 Duncan Weir
9 Chris Cusiter
1 Ryan Grant
2 Pat MacArthur
3 Mike Cusack
4 Richie Gray
5 Al Kellock (captain)
6 Rob Harley
7 John Barclay
8 Ryan Wilson
16 Dougie Hall
17 Gordon Reid
18 Ed Kalman
19 Tom Ryder
20 Chris Fusaro
21 Henry Pyrgos
22 Troy Nathan
23 Federico Aramburu
Tickets for Sunday’s game are available via www.glasgowwarriors.org, by calling 0844 800 3490, in person at the Greaves Sports stores on Gordon Street and Sauchiehall Street, and at Firhill on the day.
The turnstiles and ticket centre will be open from 11.15am on Sunday.
As the game falls on Remembrance Sunday, a period of silence will be observed before kick-off.
Not considered for selection due to injury: Alex Dunbar (face), Calum Forrester (knee), Ruaridh Jackson (hamstring), Moray Low (calf), Fergus Thomson (shoulder), DTH van der Merwe (shoulder)
Involved in British and Irish Cup: Johnnie Beattie (Ayr), Rob Verbakel (Currie), Jon Welsh (Ayr), Scott Wight (Melrose)