Glasgow v Munster: Richie Gray returns for URC play-off quarter-final clash

Return of second-row is one of only three changes – all in the pack – head coach Franco Smith has made to his starting XV

Richie Gray returns Ian the second-row for Glasgow Warriors against Munster tomorrow night. Image: © Craig Watson -
Richie Gray returns Ian the second-row for Glasgow Warriors against Munster tomorrow night. Image: © Craig Watson -

RICHIE GRAY has recovered from the illness which made him a late call-off for last weekend’s Challenge Cup semi-final win over Scarlets and will belatedly – barring any more last minute hitches – pick-up his 100th Warriors appearance in tomorrow [Saturday] night’s URC play-off quarter-final clash against Munster at Scotstoun.

The return of the 33-year-old in place of JP Du Preez is one of only three changes (all in the pack) from last week’s starting XV. Johnny Matthews is promoted from the bench to start at hooker with George Turner dropping out the squad altogether and Fraser Brown being named as a replacement, while Matt Fagerson starts at blindside in a re-jigged back-row with Sione Vailanu dropping to the bench.

Huw Jones returns to the 23 but can only command a place on the bench with Stafford McDowall being retained at inside-centre and Ollie Smith keeping hold of the No 15 jersey.

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“Munster are a team who knows how to play in playoff rugby, and have been on a strong run of form in recent weeks,” said head coach Franco Smith. “We know that we must be at our best level in order to meet the challenge they will pose.

“Training this week has been competitive and has seen the squad push each other to be the best they can be – we look forward to the test waiting for us tomorrow night.


Glasgow (v Munster at Scotstoun on Saturday night @ 7.35pm): O Smith; S Cancelliere, S Tuipulotu,  S McDowall, K Steyn©; T Jordan, G Horne; J Bhatti, J Matthews, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, R Gray, M Fagerson, R Darge, J Dempsey. Substitutes: F Brown, N McBeth, S Berghan, J du Preez, L Bean, S Vialanu, A Price, H Jones.

Munster: M Haley; C Nash, A Frisch, M Fekitoa, S Daly; J Crowley, C Murray; J Loughman, D Barron, S Archer, J Klein, R Snyman, T Beirne, P O’Mahony, G Coombes. Substitutes: N Scannell, J Wycherley, R Solanoa, F Wycherley, J Hodnett, C Casey, B Healy, A Kendellen.


Unavailable for selection: Facundo Cordero (hamstring), Cole Forbes (hamstring), Jamie Dobie (knee), Sintu Manjezi (knee), Jack Mann (head), Josh McKay (foot), Cameron Neild (calf), Ross Thompson (foot).

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About David Barnes 3820 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Poor game dominated by good defences. Munster easily deserved the victory. Well done to them. Injuries unfortunate. They’ll probably be hammered by Leinster. Even though I’m a Leinster fan, I’d like to see Munster turn up and give us a strong game – for 70 minutes anyway – its better for Irish rugby in general that we have 4 strong, confident provincial clubs. Leinster should be able to rest a lot of players for the Heineken Cup Final as the URC semi shouldn’t be too risky. I’d like to see Glasgow regroup and beat Toulon. The Challenge Cup is still a decent trophy.

    • I’m not sure Munster ‘easily’ deserved victory. Sure over the 80 they earned the win but Glasgow were their own worst enemy. The 6-2 bench split with no 10 cover didn’t help. Refusing to take the 3 points on offer on 3 occasions was always going to come back and bite. A different ref would have reached for a yellow against Munster in those opening 20 minutes and he didn’t go to the tmo for a second look at the held up Glasgow try. He did allow Munster to go through every ruck without supporting and he had no idea where the on side was. If a ref can’t control the breakdown then the defensive team always wins. Tuipulotu made a number of line breaks that Huw Jones would have finished had he been on at centre, again the 6-2 bench split didn’t lend itself to that. Yes things could have been different.

  2. Hopefully Munster will be so fired up for this that they produce an error strewn first half, allowing the Shade Munro coached rolling maul to score a couple of tries via Matthews, and put the game to bed by the 50 minute mark.

  3. I just hope that Munster’s “antics” don’t unfairly deprive Glasgow of a win. O’Mahony and Beirne are particularly adept and denied Edinburgh a semi-final win some years ago with the latter doing a wonderful impression of a footballer’s dive to reverse a penalty. Sadly, Nigel Owens won’t be officiating.

    Good luck Glasgow.

    • You have a home draw. I’m sure the Glasgow players and management are focused on overcoming a team with a fantastic European and knockout pedigree – one that has shown greater mental strength than them in the professional era. To accuse Munster of winning via shenanigans as opposed to being the great club they are is disrespectful and illogical. I’m a Leinster fan, but I always cheer Irish clubs. Perhaps I’m biased, but I never put Irish sides’ their losses down to clubs from other playing referees. That simply doesn’t work over the long term and it’s the wrong mindset. Neither clubs have great sides at the moment, but they are both decent sides with some great players. Let’s hope for a great game with the best team winning.

    • Owens? Munster’s favourite ref?

      The ref who refused to look at a replay of Earls batting the ball into touch in the pro12 final (pen try and card should have been the outcome, but Owens/Munster). Owens, the man who used to do paid speaking engagements around Munster province the week before and after reffing a Munster home game – absolutely no chance of anyone thinking their might be a perceived conflict of interest there, oh no.
      He reffed us out of too many games and several French teams wrote to EPRC telling them not to send Owens to ref them again.
      Thank goodness its not him today and thank goodness twice that he has retired – but having pot shots at other refs for making the same decisions he did.
      He started a s very good ref but afraid his ego took over

      • At least he had no time for divers and said they should play at St James’ Park.

  4. Interesting – Glasgow have gone for MacDowall alongside Tuipo at centre rather than Shuggie Jones. Munster will be relieved about that, but the big lad’s game has improved in leaps and bounds and this is a vote of confidence in him. Good to see Richie back and George Horne starting at nine – if only Toony could take a hint! The back row must have been a close call but Vailanu will give Glasgow fresh wallop in the latter stages. This one could go absolutely anywhere. Will it be a re-run of the first half at Thomond or will it be the second? Or will it be neither? Who can say. Interesting contrast in style between the two sides. Munster will seek to grind you down before going in for the kill, whereas the Glasgow attitude all season seems to have been ‘We know we make mistakes and you will score points against us. But we are faster than you and we will score more.’ That rolling maul is now a formidable weapon for the lads and it will be interesting to see if they can out-Irish the Irish at the five-metre line. Or indeed from further out. M’oan the Weegies! You are warriors, you are warriors – and all that malarkey!

  5. You don’t decide what you are trying to win – you try to win everything.

    Toulon are playing La Rochelle and Racing before the final and they will be going all out to qualify for the Top 14 playoffs and you can bet they’ll be intending to win the final too.

  6. It’s an interesting dilemma go all out for the Challenge cup, one game one throw of the dice, or slog it out through Munster , Leinster and the final of the URC as well as the Challenge cup. For me the most important would be the Challenge cup.

  7. Big Game – and probably the first choice and strongest 23 that we have. Yes, a conundrum as to what is best to do re two fronts, but to some extent it can be overthought, resting vs being fit and battle hardened. Best foot forward and go for it…. Just hope that there isn’t an issue at 10 as others have said.

    That’s why Franco’s in the job and not us!!

  8. I guess you want to make a statement in both competitions and looks like that’s what Franco has decided. Strong team and certainly capable of winning, a lot will depend on the mind games. But also concerned about cover at 10 – no-one with any obvious experience there. Not sure if the Fin Smith boat has definitely set sail – if not, SRU should be doing everything it can to try and persuade him to sign up north of the border.

  9. What to do, try and win the URC and the Challenge Cup buy beating Munster, Leinster and Toulon in successive weeks, or concentrate on the Challenge Cup which we are more likely to win.
    I just don’t have squad depth to fight on two fronts at this level and part of me was wanting Franco to at least rest important players like, Ritchie and Zander for tomorrow and see what happens.
    Then I saw the team with just about our strongest 23 and just thought bugger it, just reach for the sky guys.
    Having a 6-2 split on the bench would seem sensible against a team like Munster however if they target Tom Jordan and he gets injured I just hope that Huw Jones can add 10 to his list of positions.


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