Glasgow Warriors have the opportunity to set a new club record for the most successive wins in a single RaboDirect PRO12 season when they take on Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade on Sunday (kick-off 4.30pm, live on BBC ALBA and S4C).
Sean Lineen’s side have emerged victorious from their last five matches in the tournament, and a further success this weekend would see them match their current all-time best run, achieved in the final five outings of season 2007/8 and the first game of season 2008/9.
There is, however, a cautionary tale to be found in the fact that the last time they tasted success in Newport in this competition was back in September 2008.
The Dragons, furthermore, are yet to lose at home in the RaboDirect PRO12 this season.
Lineen today urged his men to deliver another “rock solid” performance in what he feels will be one of the “toughest away challenges” of the whole campaign.
The head coach told www.glasgowwarriors.org: “The players have shown tremendous spirit and fighting qualities in recent weeks to dig out a number of important wins. Their courage and commitment and there for all to see, and it’s those sorts of qualities that will be required in spades against the Dragons.
“It’s always a very tough, very physical match when we go to Rodney Parade, and the Dragons will clearly be very keen to continue their good home run in the RaboDirect PRO12.
“We’ve shown that we’ve got what it takes to win on the road in this competition, and the challenge now for the team is to keep that momentum going by putting in another sharp, intense display come Sunday.”
With the Dragons clash being the latest in a string of “massive games” for the Warriors either side of Christmas, Lineen has taken the opportunity to refresh his starting line-up.
There are ten changes to the XV who beat Ulster at Firhill last Friday. Behind the scrum, Peter Murchie and Colin Shaw come into the back three, Rob Dewey returns at outside centre, while Ruaridh Jackson (pictured) makes his first Glasgow appearance of the campaign, having recovered from the hamstring injury he sustained against England at the Rugby World Cup.
Up front, meanwhile, Dougie Hall and Ed Kalman join Jon Welsh in the front row and Rob Verbakel teams up with Tom Ryder in the boiler house.
There is an all-new breakaway unit, with Chris Fusaro claiming the openside berth, Calum Forrester making his first appearance since suffering a knee injury in March, and Johnnie Beattie starting at No.8. The 26-year-old will be making his 100th RaboDirect PRO12 appearance.
Dewey will captain the side in the absence of Al Kellock, while 19-year-old Scottish Rugby Elite Development scrum-half Murray McConnell could make his debut from the bench.
Lineen said: “It’s great for Johnnie Beattie to be hitting the 100 appearance landmark, and I’m looking forward to seeing him put in the sort of quality No.8 display that we’ve witnessed many times in the years he’s been with us.
“It’s also fantastic to have Calum and Ruaridh back after their rehabilitation. We’ve got some excellent competition for places in the back row, to which Calum will add another dimension, and the battle at stand-off is going to be no less fierce in the coming weeks at months.
“In terms of the changes we’ve made, between the RaboDirect PRO12 and Heineken Cup, we’ve got one huge game after the other for the foreseeable future. We need to best utilise every member of our squad, keeping everyone as fresh and hungry as possible while rewarding those who consistently perform well.
“The guys who aren’t involved this weekend will benefit from resting up and allowing their bodies to deal with the niggles and strains that pretty much all of them are carrying.
“It’s also the case that a large number of players from outside that established core of internationals have made a strong case for selection this season and it’s right that we keep giving those guys opportunities.”
Before kick-off on Sunday, there will be a minute's silence in memory of Gary Speed, the Wales football manager who sadly passed away last weekend.
GLASGOW WARRIORS TEAM TO PLAY NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS IN THE RABODIRECT PRO12 AT RODNEY PARADE ON SUNDAY 4 DECEMBER (KICK-OFF 4.30PM, LIVE ON BBC ALBA)
15 Peter Murchie
14 David Lemi
13 Rob Dewey (captain)
12 Troy Nathan
11 Colin Shaw
10 Ruaridh Jackson
9 Henry Pyrgos
1 Jon Welsh
2 Dougie Hall
3 Ed Kalman
4 Tom Ryder
5 Rob Verbakel
6 Calum Forrester
7 Chris Fusaro
8 Johnnie Beattie
16 Finlay Gillies
17 Moray Low
18 Gordon Reid
19 Rob Harley
20 Scott Wight
21 Ryan Wilson
22 Alex Dunbar
23 Murray McConnell
Not considered for selection due to injury: Fergus Thomson (shoulder), DTH van der Merwe (shoulder).