Glasgow Warriors will strive to make it five RaboDirect PRO12 wins in a row when they tackle Benetton Treviso at the Stadio di Monigo on Saturday (kick-off 6.05pm UK time, live on BBC ALBA).
In their last four tournament games, Gregor Townsend’s team have beaten Ospreys and Cardiff Blues on the road, and Connacht and Zebre at Scotstoun Stadium.
Saturday’s clash in the Veneto gives them the opportunity to maintain this positive run, and build on their current placing of third in the competition table. Glasgow have won on five of their last six visits to Italy, but were made to fight all the way for victory back in April, when a late DTH van der Merwe try saw them emerge victorious 13-8.
Head coach Townsend told www.glasgowwarriors.org : “This weekend’s game against Benetton Treviso is massive for us. We’ve achieved some good results of late in the RaboDirect PRO12, and after two defeats in the Heineken Cup, it’s vital we get back on track.
“We’re well aware that it’s going to be an extremely tough game. Treviso have already beaten Ospreys and Scarlets at home, and only lost to Leinster by a point there.
“That underlines just how well we’re going to have to play in all aspects of our game to come away with another win. As usual with matches against Italian opposition, we’ll need to be watertight in our work up front; our scrum has been going really well in recent games, and establishing the right sort of platform in the set-piece is a necessity.”
The Warriors starting XV for the clash show five personnel changes from that which ran out against Ulster in the Heineken Cup last Friday.
Tommy Seymour returns from his one-match suspension to replace the injured Byron McGuigan on the right wing, while Niko Matawalu, a try scorer against the Belfast side, lines up on the other touchline. Stuart Hogg moves to outside centre, with Peter Murchie reverting to full-back. Alex Dunbar, who started on the wing in the Ulster game, switches to inside centre.
Peter Horne, who has featured in every match so far this season, is rested, having also suffered blows to the face and knee against Ulster.
In the forwards, meanwhile, the changes see Finlay Gillies replace Dougie Hall at hooker, blindside flanker Rob Harley make his first start since recovering from a knee injury, and John Barclay come in for the rested Chris Fusaro at openside.
Among the Glasgow replacements and set for a competitive debut is wing Taylor Paris (pictured), the youngest player to be capped by Canada at both 15s and 7s.
Townsend explained: “There are a few switches in our backline, both personnel-wise and positional, but we’re fortunate to have a number of players in there who are versatile.
“In the pack, it’s great to have Rob Harley back in the mix. He’s been a very influential player for the club over the last two years, and I’ve been really impressed by how hard he’s worked to return promptly from his injury and keep making a significant contribution.
“With 13 of our players having been named in the Scotland squad this week, there are going to be some big games ahead for a number of players not involved against Treviso. As we’ve said on a number of occasions, it’s vital that we have a large group of players all capable of delivering when the team needs them to, and every individual in our squad has a big part to play this season.”
Two backs who won’t feature in northern Italy are Graeme Morrison and Sean Lamont. With his knee injury having failed to settle, Morrison has undergone further assessment, which concluded that he is likely to be unavailable for selection until around the start of December.
Sean Lamont, meanwhile, is recovering well from the facial injury he sustained against Northampton Saints a fortnight ago, but the Treviso game comes too soon for him.
We’ve arranged a screening of Saturday’s match at Waxy O’Connor’s on West George Street in Glasgow city centre. Space will be reserved for Warriors supporters in the basement area of the bar, with snacks served at half-time.
GLASGOW WARRIORS TEAM TO PLAY BENETTON TREVISO IN THE RABODIRECT PRO12 AT THE STADIO DI MONIGO ON SATURDAY 27 OCTOBER (KICK-OFF 6.05PM UK TIME, LIVE ON BBC ALBA)
15 Peter Murchie
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Stuart Hogg
12 Alex Dunbar
11 Niko Matawalu
10 Ruaridh Jackson
9 Henry Pyrgos
1 Ryan Grant
2 Finlay Gillies
3 Mike Cusack
4 Tom Ryder
5 Al Kellock (CAPTAIN)
6 Rob Harley
7 John Barclay
8 Ryan Wilson
16 Dougie Hall
17 Ofa Fainga’anuku
18 Gordon Reid
19 Tim Swinson
20 James Eddie
21 Scott Wight
22 Troy Nathan
23 Taylor Paris
Not considered for selection due to injury: Chris Cusiter (shoulder), Ed Kalman (back), Rory Lamont (leg), Sean Lamont (face), Moray Low (knee), Pat MacArthur (foot), Angus Macdonald (neck), Byron McGuigan (ribs), Graeme Morrison (knee), DTH van der Merwe (hamstring), Jon Welsh (shoulder), Duncan Weir (knee).