by Callum Nixon
Pro14: Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors
Kick Off: 17:30
Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea
THE Ospreys suffered a 24-12 defeat in the last round of the Pro14 at the hands of Ulster. It was a performance which led to ex-lions star Stephen Ferris labelling it ‘abysmal’.
Both teams have made similar starts to their Pro14 campaigns this year, recording a win and a defeat in their opening two games.
Warriors on the other hand triumphed 20-7 at home to Scarlets in their last Pro 14 match.
Ospreys haven’t registered a win against the Scottish side since February 2017 and they will be hoping for a change of fortune in their third game of the Pro14 season.
Last time the teams met 19 months ago, in January 2019, Warriors came out 9-3 winners.
Due to the international games on the horizon, Ospreys will be without Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric who are in the Wales squad ahead of their game against France tonight. Ospreys do however, welcome back James King after being out for over a year through injury. He comes in at number 8.
Former Wales captain, Scott Williams also comes into the starting XV to partner Kieran Williams in midfield for his first start since early January.
Warriors hand debuts to Hamish Bain and TJ Loane, two of the nine changes head coach, Danny Wilson, has made from the victory against Scarlets. Sean Kennedy could make his first Warriors appearance in over seven years if he features after previously playing for the Scottish side during a loan spell in 2013.
Warriors will be without three players after positive coronavirus test results. Despite this they are still able to name a squad featuring 16 internationals as well as having to deal with Scotland national team call ups.
Teams in full:
Ospreys: Dan Evans; Mat Protheroe, Scott Williams, Keiran Williams, Luke Morgan, Stephen Myler, Reuben Morgan-Williams; Rhodri Jones, Dewi Lake, Ma’afu Fia, Adam Beard, Bradley Davies, Olly Cracknell, Dan Lydiate (CAPT), James King.
Bench: Scott Otten, Gareth Thomas, Tom Botha, Will Griffiths, Sam Cross, Harri Morgan, Josh Thomas, Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler.
Warriors: Huw Jones, Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Ratu Tagive, Pete Horne, Jamie Dobie; Aki Seiuli, George Turner, D’arcy Rae, Hamish Bain, Richie Gray, Ryan Wilson (CAPT), Tom Gordon, TJ Ioane.
Bench: Grant Stewart, Alex Allan, Enrique Pieretto, Fotu Lokotui, Chris Fusaro, Sean Kennedy, Brandon Thomson, Niko Matawalu
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
The key players to watch from both sides will be the two flankers – Dan Lydiate for the Ospreys and Ryan Wilson for the Warriors.
The fact they are both captaining their sides in the Pro 14 tie will only add to the affair as they will both be going out looking to prove a point and earn a return to their respective national team squads.
POINT TO PROVE:
Coming in for Alun Wyn Jones is never going to be an easy task, but that is the job that Bradley Davies is tasked with. It is a fantastic chance for Davies to step up and show that he deserves a spot in the second row for the Ospreys going forward.
Ospreys sit top of the charts for the kicking statistics in the Pro 14 and they will certainly have to be at the top of their game if they are to come away with anything against the Warriors. Ospreys are also top in the scrum charts in the Pro 14, winning 100% of their scrums. Stephen Myler is also third on the overall points scored charts for the Pro 14 behind only Paolo Garbisi of Benneton and Leigh Halfpenny of Scarlets.
Glasgow Warriors are the most proficient team in the Pro 14 when it comes to lineouts with the Scottish side boasting a 97% success rate.
The Ospreys are bottom of the tables in the Pro 14 for offloads, defenders beaten and metres made (371). Ospreys haven’t been at their best for a few years now and will have to get over that psychological barrier if they are to go far in the Pro 14.
Warriors are eleventh in the kicking statistics in the Pro14 which is something they will have to improve upon in their game against the Ospreys. Especially as the Ospreys currently top the charts in kicking stats.
This game ought to be a close fought affair at the Liberty Stadium. However, with Ospreys missing key players such as Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric, Warriors will be optimistic about their chances in south Wales on Saturday night but will need to be at their best to win the game.