Match Preview | Scarlets
Glasgow Warriors will be looking to bounce back from a narrow defeat in round one of the 2020/21 Guinness PRO14 this weekend, as Scarlets provide the opposition for this year’s home opener.
The match will be the first to be played at Scotstoun since the Dragons visited Glasgow nearly eight months ago, and will take place behind closed doors.
Despite scoring three eye-catching tries and defending well for large parts of the match, Danny Wilson’s men were ultimately edged out by Connacht at the Sportsground last weekend with only a losing bonus-point to show for their efforts.
In the Scarlets, the Warriors will come up against another side who suffered a narrow loss in their opening match of the new season but one that they know will provide a stern test on Sunday evening.
Here’s how the two sides shape up ahead of their meeting this weekend:
Scarlets Form Guide
Glenn Delaney’s Scarlets squad suffered an agonising defeat in their first match of the new campaign, going down 30-27 to Munster at Parc y Scarlets.
Despite a competition record-tying nine penalties from the boot of Leigh Halfpenny, the Welsh side were unable to shake their opponents in a match that ebbed and flowed throughout.
In the end it was a 50 metre penalty in the 80th minute that sunk the Scarlets, Munster fly-half Ben Healy showing nerves of steel to slot the winning kick with time expired.
A brace of experienced midfielders headlined the off-season leavers from Llanelli in 2020, as international pair Hadleigh Parkes and Kieron Fonotia departed for pastures new.
Promising young winger Corey Baldwin also said his goodbyes to the Scarlets, making the switch to English Premiership heavyweights Exeter.
There was also a notable departure in the coaching box, as Brad Mooar was released from his contract to allow him to take up a role as assistant coach with his native New Zealand.
Former London Irish and Nottingham boss Delaney was the man picked to replace Mooar ahead of rugby’s restart in August, with the 46-year-old New Zealander promoted from his role as assistant coach.
On the field, the dynamic presence of Sione Kalamafoni was added to the club’s back-row options after the Tongan made the switch from Leicester Tigers, joining highly-rated Wales U20 fly-half Sam Costelow in swapping Welford Road for Parc y Scarlets.
The Scarlets midfield options were also boosted by two strong running centres, as Johnny Williams and Tyler Morgan arrived from Newcastle Falcons and the Dragons respectively.
Ones to watch
One of the deadliest boots in world rugby, Leigh Halfpenny’s accuracy from the tee makes him a threat to any opposition defence. Safe under the high ball and a standout performer for club, country and British and Irish Lions, any indiscretion is likely to be punished by the full-back.
Scrum-half Gareth Davies has become a key man for both the Scarlets and Wales, with the livewire number nine a constant dangerman in and around the fringes. Quick off the mark and with a keen eye for an interception, the Warriors defence will need to be on their toes on Sunday evening.
Named in the Wales squad for the first time earlier this week, Josh MacLeod’s reputation has steadily grown across the Guinness PRO14 in recent seasons. The openside flanker is a combative presence at the breakdown, and has the ability to link play to outstanding effect in open play.
It was the Scarlets that edged the sole encounter between the two sides in 2019/20, as a Glasgow Warriors comeback came up just short at Scotstoun in October 2019.
The visitors claimed a 25-21 victory under the floodlights, after tries from Brandon Thomson and Stafford McDowall – following a sublime offload from Huw Jones – had given the Warrior Nation hope.
Prior to that meeting, the most recent encounter came in December 2018 when a Thomson-inspired Warriors emerged victorious 29-20 in front of the Scotstoun faithful.
24 points from the South African saw the Warriors take the win despite the loss of Alex Allan to a red card, Nick Grigg also going over for a try.
Irish referee Frank Murphy will take charge of Sunday evening’s clash, with the ex-Connacht player overseeing his 36th Guinness PRO14 match.
Scottish duo Hollie Davidson and Ben Blain will be on the touchlines as Murphy’s assistants, and Andrew McMenemy will be on hand if required as the Television Match Official.
The match is live on Premier Sports 1, with coverage getting underway at 4.45pm ahead of the 5.15pm kick-off.
You can keep up to date with all the action with our Live Match Centre, too – head to glasgowwarriors.org on Sunday evening and follow all the latest news from Scotstoun.