Match Preview | Ospreys
A crucial Guinness PRO14 clash awaits Glasgow Warriors on Friday, as Conference A rivals and fellow Heineken Champions Cup qualification-chasers Ospreys travel to Scotstoun.
The Welsh side currently hold a 10 point advantage over the Warriors in the race for third place in the conference, having played a game more than their hosts.
Danny Wilson’s squad will be looking to back up last weekend’s 31-20 victory in Parma, having run in four tries to claim a first bonus-point win of the season against Zebre.
Meetings between the two teams have traditionally been closely-fought affairs, and neither team will be expecting anything different under the Friday night lights.
Here’s how the Ospreys shape up ahead of the match:
Ospreys form guide
Toby Booth’s Ospreys currently sit third in Conference A, having earned seven wins from their 14 matches to date this season.
An opening round 25-10 victory over Edinburgh served notice to the entire competition that the 2020/21 Ospreys were going to be a different proposition than their 2019/20 predecessors, before bouncing back from defeat to Ulster with a win over the Warriors in Swansea.
The Ospreys have been tough competitors throughout the season to date, with highlights including an excellent 26-20 victory away to Connacht and a New Year’s Day triumph over Cardiff Blues.
However, the Welshmen come into this weekend on the back of a two-match losing streak, having been downed 31-20 by the Dragons in Bridgend last time out.
Both Ospreys and Wales fans bade farewell to one of the region’s most talented players in recent seasons over the summer, as James Hook announced his retirement from professional rugby to take up a role with the Ospreys as Skills Coach.
Long-serving forward James King was another to retire from the sport in the summer break, whilst scrum-half Aled Davies swapped Swansea for Saracens after an 18-month spell at the Liberty Stadium.
Number eight Dan Baker joined Mont-de-Marsan before later switching to the Dragons, as Namibia winger Lesley Klim departed to join English Championship side Jersey Reds.
The headline arrival at the Liberty Stadium during the summer months was the return of Ospreys academy graduate and 2017 British and Irish Lion Rhys Webb, as the scrum-half returned to his first professional club after stints at Toulon and Bath.
Vastly experienced fly-half Stephen Myler was a canny acquisition by Booth, providing a calm head and reliable boot to steer the Ospreys around the park.
Meanwhile, highly-rated young back Mat Protheroe and prop Nicky Thomas were also signed from Bristol Bears, with Protheroe particularly impressive before being sidelined by injury.
Ones to watch
Having recently returned from long-term injury, Keelan Giles marked his 50th appearance for the Ospreys in trademark style last weekend. The 23-year-old winger’s try may have come in a losing effort, but his acceleration and footwork make him a dangerman whenever he touches the ball.
When a Welsh centre draws comparisons with Scott Gibbs, people take notice. That should serve as an indication to the form Kieran Williams has been in this season, with the 23-year-old showing pace and power aplenty in his club outings so far in 2020/21.
One of the Ospreys’ most reliable performers, Olly Cracknell will be a key figure in the Welsh outfit’s defensive line on Friday night. The flanker frequently brings a physical edge to proceedings, whilst his seven turnovers this season shows his threat at the breakdown.
It was the Ospreys who took the spoils in the first meeting between the two sides this season, grinding out a 23-15 win at the Liberty Stadium back in round three.
Tries from Reuben Morgan-Williams and Kieran Williams cancelled out early scores by Huw Jones and George Turner, with the boot of Myler proving decisive in the Swansea rain.
You have to go back to January 2019 for the Ospreys’ most recent visit to Scotstoun, as a Kenny Murray-led Warriors squad edged to a 9-3 over their visitors.
Three penalties from Brandon Thomson overcame a half-time deficit, with Sam Davies registering the only points for the Ospreys.
Sam Grove-White will be the man in the middle for Friday, as the Scottish Rugby referee takes charge of his 13th match in the Guinness PRO14.
Fin Brown and David Sutherland will run the touchlines as his assistants, whilst Ben Blain will be on hand as Television Match Official.
The match will be live on Premier Sports 1 on Friday night, with kick-off scheduled for 8pm.
Supporters can also listen to live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland MW, as well as following all the build-up and action as it happens on our Live Match Centre at glasgowwarriors.org.