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No let up for Townsend

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend has promised his side will not take Irish rivals Connacht for granted as they close in on a Guinness PRO12 play-off slot.

The table-topping Scotstoun side need just one more win to rule out any possibility of them missing out on the end-of-season four-team fight for the title.

On paper, that should be a mere formality as they head to Galway on Saturday to take on a side 21 points and five places beneath them.

But Townsend says Glasgow will show Pat Lam's side nothing but respect as they clash at the Sportsground.

Townsend, who has handed Scotland lock Jonny Gray the captaincy for the first time, s aid: "Connacht are a well-coached team that play with passion and ambition, and we respect them very highly. They have played well this season and are challenging for a top-six finish.

"We welcome back a number of Scotland internationals and we're delighted that Jonny Gray has been given the opportunity to captain the side from the start of the game.

"We enjoy playing at the Sportsground as there is always a really good atmosphere thanks to the vocal home support and we know we'll have to be fully focused for the full 80 minutes in order to deliver the level of performance required."

Gray - tipped as a future Scotland skipper - will partner Fiji international Leone Nakarawa in the engine room.

Stuart Hogg returns at full-back, after missing the win over Cardiff Blues a fortnight ago through injury, with Peter Murchie named on the bench.

Tommy Seymour continues on the right wing, with Niko Matawalu returning on the opposite wing, in place of the injured DTH van der Merwe.

Richie Vernon and Peter Horne continue their centre partnership, with Finn Russell and Henry Pyrgos once again the half-back pairing.

In the pack, Jerry Yanuyanutawa continues at loose-head, while Fraser Brown replaces Dougie Hall at hooker and Euan Murray returns from injury at tight-head.

Gray comes in for Tim Swinson and Nakarawa for Al Kellock in the second-row, while it's the same back-row which played against Cardiff, with Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro and Adam Ashe combining.

Ryan Grant, who is on the bench, returns from a five-week spell on the sidelines, while Duncan Weir continues his comeback from injury after also being named among the replacements.


From Belfast Telegraph