Glasgow Warriors v Northampton Saints: Match preview

Glasgow Warriors v Northampton Saints: Match preview

Warriors reached their first European final last year, losing to Toulon in the Challenge Cup showpiece, and have made a strong start to the 2023/24 season, winning five of their seven United Rugby Championship (URC) fixtures.

Saints’ Pool 3 rivals Exeter Chiefs travel to Toulon in Saturday’s opening fixture, hoping to build on their fine run in last year’s competition.

The likes of Rusi Tuima and Immanuel Feyi-Waboso – who has recovered from a hamstring problem – could make their European debuts, though Rob Baxter will be without scrum-half Niall Armstrong and backrower Aidon Davis after both suffered shoulder injuries in last weekend’s 41-24 defeat to Bath Rugby.

No stranger to the big stage is Henry Slade, who in the absence of Will Haydon-Wood will once again provide cover at stand-off having started at 10 for Chiefs in a 32-20 defeat to Toulon a decade ago.

Competition: Investec Champions Cup (pool stage – match one)

Venue: Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow

Date and kick-off time: Friday, December 8, 2023, 8pm

Glasgow Warriors: McKay; Cancelliere, Jones, McDowall (c), Smith; Jordan, Kennedy; Bhatti, Matthews, Z Fagerson; Manjezi, Gray; Cummings, Darge, M Fagerson. Replacements: Turner, Kebble, Sordoni, Williamson, Miller, Vailanu, Afshar, Thompson.

Saints: Furbank (c); Sleightholme, Freeman, Dingwall, Hendy; F Smith, Mitchell; A Waller, Langdon, Hill; Lockett, Moon; Lawes, Scott-Young, Graham. Replacements: R Smith, Haffar, Davison, Mayanavanua, Pearson, James, Litchfield, Seabrook.

Not considered for Saints selection: Matthew Arden, Juarno Augustus, Alex Coles, Will Glister, Rory Hutchinson, Emmanuel Iyogun, Lewis Ludlam, Joel Matavesi, Chunya Munga, Burger Odendaal and James Ramm

Referee: Luc Ramos (Fra)

Assistant referee: Vivien Praderie (Fra) and Jonathan Gasnier (Fra)

TMO: Thomas Charabas (Fra)

Most recent meeting: January 17, 2016: Saints 19 Glasgow Warriors 15 (Champions Cup pool stages)

Glasgow Warriors head coach Franco Smith: “The Investec Champions Cup presents us with a new challenge – it’s one we’re proud to be a part of and we’re looking forward to this weekend. Northampton arrive at Scotstoun in excellent form having won away to Saracens last weekend; they are a dangerous team with ball in hand and run a tight ship defensively, making them a very tough opponent. We’re looking forward to running out at home once more, and hearing the Warrior Nation get behind their team.”

Saints director of rugby Phil Dowson: “There's excitement about the opportunity to play in a great tournament with huge prestige, with great stories around it and the opportunity to play in different places. We've not been there since 2015 competitively, they're second in the URC, they were top before last weekend, they've scored more maul tries than anyone else and it's a really good challenge for us so we should be excited about that. They've got a cracking home record and you like that challenge as a player and as a coach. You want to go and take that scalp if you can.”

Tom Vickers’ prediction: There are few tougher places to win in Europe these days as Glasgow have only lost once at home in two years, but Saints will be buoyed by their superb success at Saracens. And they might just be able to edge this one if they are at their best. Glasgow 24 Saints 27.

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