Glasgow Warriors will look to pick up where they left off against Aironi when Cardiff Blues visit Firhill tomorrow night for another vital RaboDirect PRO12 clash.
The Warriors go into this weekend’s match on the back of a 29-6 win over the Italians six days ago, a result that keeps them firmly in the hunt for the end of season play-offs.
Glasgow have lost only one of their last 14 games in the competition, but know to expect the toughest encounter of the season to date against their fellow semi-final hopefuls from the Welsh capital.
Head coach Sean Lineen confirmed: “There’s no doubt in my mind that this will be right up there with Test rugby in terms of intensity, physicality and the absolute determination to win from both sides.
“We’re now at the point in the season where there’s very little margin for error, and I know I speak for all the players and staff when I say that we relish the challenge of securing another result that allows us to hold or improve our position in the table.
“The game means just as much to Cardiff as it does to us, so another controlled but passionate performance will be required from all 23 guys who’ll pull on that Glasgow shirt tomorrow night.
“The intensity and hunger the players have shown to a man all week has been pleasing, and it’s now about taking that out onto the pitch and delivering the goods for themselves and the supporters.”
The Warriors won the first meeting between the teams 34-13 at the Cardiff City Stadium last October, but haven’t beaten the Blues at home since a 28-0 win in November 2008.
With the club’s Scotland contingent back from RBS 6 Nations duty, Lineen says that selection this week has been “one of the toughest” in his six years as head coach.
In all, there are five changes to the starting XV from last week. Two come in the pack, where captain Al Kellock replaces Nick Campbell in the second row, and Rob Harley returns at blindside flanker in a familiar back-row unit where Chris Fusaro and Ryan Wilson (pictured) also feature.
In the backs, meanwhile, Chris Cusiter will start at scrum-half with Graeme Morrison coming in at inside centre. Federico Aramburu moves to the wing, while Stuart Hogg dons the full-back jersey with Peter Murchie among the replacements.
Lineen explained: “I’m delighted that selection is such a difficult challenge for the coaches right now. It’s a measure of the consistency that’s been established across the squad this year, and the internal rivalry we’ve fostered.
“The players we’ve brought back in for Friday have delivered on a regular basis for the Warriors this season, and are desperate to contribute to a successful finish to the campaign.
“This game will be very much a 23-man effort. Numerous times this year guys have made a real impact from the bench, and we’ll be looking to our replacements to play a meaningful role again. It’s likely to be another tight, hotly contested affair and we need everyone switched on to their job.
“The crowd also have their part to play. They were absolutely magnificent once again in the Aironi game – the players and coaches were buzzing to see the place so busy and noisy.
“I know the fans will be out in force again tomorrow night, and rest assured we’ll be doing everything we can to send them home happy once more.”
Tickets for Friday’s huge RaboDirect PRO12 game against Cardiff Blues are available via www.glasgowwarriors.org, by calling 0844 800 3490, in person at the Gordon Street and Sauchiehall Street branches of Greaves Sports, our official retail partner, and at Firhill on the night.
We’ll be raising funds for Yorkhill Children’s Foundation, one of our official charity partners. The Warriors match jerseys will sport the Foundation’s logo, and we’ll be raffling Tom Ryder’s number 4 shirt at the game.
Raffle tickets will be available pre-match and at half-time from the Greaves Sports outlet in the concourse of the Jackie Husband Stand and pre-match in the Warriors Supporters Bar, accessed from Firhill Road.
GLASGOW WARRIORS TEAM TO PLAY CARDIFF BLUES IN THE RABODIRECT PRO12 AT FIRHILL ON FRIDAY 30 MARCH (KICK-OFF 7.35PM, LIVE ON BBC ALBA)
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Federico Aramburu
13 Alex Dunbar
12 Graeme Morrison
11 Tommy Seymour
10 Duncan Weir
9 Chris Cusiter
1 Ryan Grant
2 Dougie Hall
3 Mike Cusack
4 Tom Ryder
5 Al Kellock (CAPTAIN)
6 Rob Harley
7 Chris Fusaro
8 Ryan Wilson
16 Pat MacArthur
17 Jon Welsh
18 Moray Low
19 Richie Gray
20 John Barclay
21 Henry Pyrgos
22 Ruaridh Jackson
23 Peter Murchie
Not considered for selection due to injury: Rob Dewey (shoulder), Ed Kalman (neck), Rory Lamont (leg), Fergus Thomson (shoulder), DTH van der Merwe (shoulder)