Why variety is key to Glasgow Warriors game-plan as big guns return for Newcastle Falcons tie

There is more than one way to skin a cat and Glasgow Warriors coach Danny Wilson is keen for his team to keep developing different ways to win matches as they seek to make progress in the European Challenge Cup.

The Scotstoun club travel to Kingston Park to take on Newcastle Falcons in the last 16 on Friday and Wilson expects a fast, exciting game on the artificial turf.

Glasgow have long had a reputation for quick, attacking rugby but the coach knows variety is vital. The recent 40-12 win over Zebre was a good example as Glasgow ruthlessly disposed of the Italian side with six tries, five of them coming directly or indirectly from lineout mauls.

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“We need to be able to grow more than one threat,” said Wilson. “Our identity here for a long time has been our attacking threat, playing fast, expansive rugby. We need to be able to keep doing that and our try count proves we can.

Josh McKay returns to the Glasgow Warriors side after injury. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

“But we also need a weapon at set-piece and I think we are slowly developing that. Our driving lineout means that you can kick to the corner instead of going for three points, and we’ve done that in our last few games. We’ve scored a lot from driving lineouts and that is becoming a weapon for us.

“The other part is making sure we can defend well, in both halves, making sure we don’t fall away at the end of games defensively.”

Glasgow have let leads slip in a couple of away games recently and it’s something they must caution against this evening while maintaining their discipline.

Sione Tuipulotu will link up with Sam Johnson in the Glasgow Warriors midfield. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

“In previous years our discipline has been dreadful, with the penalty count in double figures in every game,” acknowledged Wilson. “At the moment it’s averaging eight a game and in my mind to go to Newcastle and win it has to be eight or less to give yourself the best chance.”

Wilson has brought back the big guns as Glasgow bid for a place in the quarter-finals where a tie against Lyon or Worcester awaits the victors.

Josh McKay returns from injury and replaces Domingo Miotti at full-back; Scotland duo Sam Johnson and Sione Tuipulotu form the centre pairing, with their international team-mate Kyle Steyn moved out to the wing as Stafford McDowall and Cole Forbes drop out; Ali Price starts as scrum-half instead of Jamie Dobie who has been laid low by illness.

The changes in the pack see Simon Berghan in for Murphy Walker at tighthead, Richie Gray replacing the benched Rob Harley in the second row and Tom Gordon coming in at seven in a reshaped back row in which Rory Darge move to No 8 in place of Jack Dempsey who has a minor shoulder issue.

The Warriors have strong front row options on the bench and Wilson expects Jamie Bhatti, George Turner and Zander Fagerson to all come on and make an impact.

“I think it will be an exciting game,” said the Glasgow coach. “They’ve picked a team with some real gas in it and some real threats in the back line.

“They’ve picked a strong midfield and a very fast, dangerous back three. With ours being very similar, we have a very powerful midfield as well and a back line with some real threats.”

Newcastle Falcons v Glasgow Warriors (Challenge Cup last 16, Kingston Park, Friday, 8pm)

Newcastle Falcons: 15. Tom Penny; 14. Adam Radwan, 13. George Wacokecoke, 12. Luther Burrell, 11. Ben Stevenson; 10. Brett Connon, 9. Louis Schreuder; 1. Adam Brocklebank, 2. George McGuigan, 3. Trevor Davison, 4. Greg Peterson, 5. Sean Robinson, 6. Josh Basham, 7. Will Welch (c), 8. Freddie Lockwood.

Replacements: 16. Jamie Blamire, 17. Kyle Cooper, 18. Mark Tampin, 19. Will Montgomery, 20. Tom Marshall, 21. Cam Nordli-Kelemeti, 22. Joel Hodgson, 23. Iwan Stephens.

Glasgow Warriors: 15. Josh McKay; 14. Sebastian Cancelliere, 13. Sione Tuipulotu, 12. Samuel Johnson, 11. Kyle Steyn; 10. Ross Thompson, 9. Ali Price; 1. Oli Kebble, 2. Johnny Matthews, 3. Simon Berghan, 4. Scott Cummings, 5. Richie Gray, 6. Ryan Wilson (c), 7. Tom Gordon, 8. Rory Darge.

Replacements: 16. George Turner, 17. Jamie Bhatti, 18. Zander Fagerson, 19. Robert Harley, 20. Ally Miller, 21. Sean Kennedy, 22. Duncan Weir, 23. Oliver Smith.

Referee: Tual Trainini (France).

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