Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Wet Warriors Win Dreary Affair

Glasgow 17 – 9 Ulster

Confidence is a complex entity to understand.  It can convince others of your worth and it can take you to places few thought you could go. Glasgow Warriors are dripping with confidence and on a sodden night at Firhill they beat Ulster with little more than a handful of passes and a try.

Winning ugly is something that teams do when they are on a roll. In truth this game could have gone either way, particularly with the amount of stoppages, set-piece restarts and errors. At times it felt like the Italian referee Penne rarely stopped blowing to draw breath.

Speaking after the game Glasgow head coach Sean Lineen claimed that the game was unpredictable because they had a “referee that had no idea. You didn’t know where it was going to go”.

For most of the game Lineen was seen to be muttering to himself in the stand, slamming his palms into the desk and blankly assessing the Italian official. The game hardly flowed, but when you are winning games and remaining obstinate enough to steal tries at the end such things hardly matter.

The game started with a show of patience from the Warriors. They built phases as they marched towards the opposition line. They claimed a penalty from out wide and Weir calmly slid the ball between the posts for 3 points, much like he has done all season.

After that the fans were the ones that had to be patient. Kellock stole a lineout, there were scrum penalties and there were hacking kicks out of Glasgow’s 22 but nothing noteworthy took place. Even when Ireland international Andrew Trimble made a classy break 18 minutes in his support Simon Danielli -who was reinstated at wing after a few games in Ulster’s 15 jersey -was reeled in and turned over by debutant David Lemi.

The first quarter ended with Humphreys nailing a penalty from directly in front of the posts after Rob Harley dived over the ruck to challenge for a ball. Many supporters felt he did so legally but Signore Penne thought otherwise and the game was levelled at 3-3. Kicks rained down in the horrible conditions and scrum after scrum was deliberated over. Weir Kicked two more penalties and skills faded with time.

The only point in the first half where it looked like the line would be breached was when a lineout ball in Glasgow’s 22 was passed to an Ulsterman masquerading as a crash runner. As he drew the defender he slipped a clever inside pass to scrum-half Marshall who looked certain to score had Ryan Wilson not slid in with a timely cover tackle. The ball was eventually scrambled clear and the half evaporated into the night sky as Humphreys misplaced his last penalty kick.

At 9-3 this game looked like it would be one where lofty up-and-under kicks would dominate. No one looked capable of scoring and Glasgow struggled to hold onto the ball, let alone feed a flying attacker. New signing Lemi looked wasted on the wing and the normally animated Hogg seemed subdued by the constant trek into the middle of the park to cover short, high kicks.

In the second half Humphreys had plenty of time to sort his radar as apparent scrum infringements and off the ball bumps led the referee to signal towards Ulster with a straight arm. Even Glasgow’s own fans seemed cowed by the conditions and disappointed by the match’s lack of continuity. The weather was biblical but the spectacle was less than momentous.

Then, as the last quarter dribbled on, the unthinkable happened. A misjudged kick inside Ulster’s 22 led to a turnover and Warrior ball. A pass was fed to Morrison who duly popped it along the line. As opposition defenders surged forward a wild looping pass fell to a static Troy Nathan. The centre ran towards the try line, working his feet well and shifting his opposite man. He hit Lemi who got on the outside and made for the line. Tackles came in but he played it back inside to Nathan who burst onwards and slid over at the corner to make it 15-9. Duncan Weir was afforded the opportunity to miss a conversion.

He made up for it a few minutes later when he successfully kicked a drop-goal and the match ended a sopping 17-9.

Those at BBC Alba saw fit to give David Lemi the Man of the Match despite his game being reduced to a series of clearing kicks and one try assist. Lineen said he was impressed enough, though. “Lemi is a class act. It is a shame we couldn’t give him more ball…but he made a couple of nice mazy runs.”

So there it is. The game had one incident of note and the new boy made a good enough impression on the home fans. The whole team will be looking forward to an away trip at the Dragons next Sunday. When you’re confident the next game can never come soon enough.

Glasgow: Hogg, Lemi, Nathan, Morrison, Aramburu, Weir, Pyrgos, Welsh, MacArthur, Cusack, Ryder, Kellock, Harley, Barclay, Wilson

Replacements: Cusiter, Grant, Low, Gray, Fusaro
 Not Used: Gillies, Dunbar, Shaw

Ulster: D’Arcy, Trimble, Cave, Spence, Danielli, Humphreys, P. Marshall, Court, Kyriacou, Fitzpatrick, Muller, Tuohy, Diack, Faloon, Wannenburg

Replacements: Whitten, Brady, Macklin, Barker for Tuohy
Not Used: Black, McComish, Porter, Jackson

Attendance: 3,940

Referee: Stefano Penne (Italy)

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14 Responses

  1. It’s great to see Glasgow winning these games that last year we would have lost. The referee wasn’t great – Al Kellock looked just about ready to punch him. David Lemi looks like a class act and Duncan Weir is really putting himself forward for a Scotland call up. Good to see the crowd numbers at Firhill are going in the right direction. Positive times for Glasgow – growing crowds, securing key players and winning their games.

  2. I’m a bit dissappointed by all this public criticsim of the referee. Let’s not go the way of soccer where everyone continually whinges about the ref. and it’s all his fault.

  3. Malky:
    A coach would always comment on the referee and the press corp are very lucky in the respect that Lineen always has something to say. I agree that professional teams and their fans shouldn’t jump on the man in the middle for an excuse. He certainly wasn’t biased and both teams have to adapt their game to each referee’s interpretation.

    Yeah, crowds going up are good. The Scots are a fickle lot, mind. Will they stay when Glasgow encounter a Pro12 speedbump? I hope so, but the money men will be praying that that long-awaited loss comes after the festive period. If Glasgow start losing you can struggle to get fans humping through horrific weather to watch.

    I honestly think it was more of a mixed bag from Lemi. Some of his kicking was attrocious, but he was always there and always connected. He had very little ball, but we all know he is a lively runner and won’t stop trying to get to the edge. On a dryer, less blustery day we will get more of a picture of how good he will be. He could be a fantastic addition.

  4. A.D:
    Yeah, it probably wasn’t Lemi’s best game but I think he is only going to get better with time. Hopefully the supporters will stay even if Glasgow’s winning streak doesn’t continue- they’ve shown what they can do, the young guys have really stepped up this season- not just Duncan Weird but guys like Stuart Hogg, Ryan Wilson and Chris Fusaro have shown what they can do when they get the chance.

  5. I think Glasgow need one more high class back, preferably in the centres, if they want to keep winning games and challenging for play off places. The team has a good pack and wins a lot of ball, but often have difficulty turning this into high scores.

    The opposite seems to be true for Edinburgh – a backline to die for when it’s on song, but a lack of grunt in the second row and a powderpuff scrum when Chunk, Ford or Cross aren’t playing. Edinburgh will continue to lose games they should win, like the game v Munster yesterday, until this is sorted out. Any hard-nosed locks and/or props out there that could be enticed north of the Border?

  6. MJW:
    With the exception of quality stand-offs good tighthead props command the biggest salaries. Edinburgh are lucky to have the front row they’ve got (after his first caps London Irish came in and offered Geoff Cross a chance to play there, but he opted to stay in Edinburgh). They won’t really be budgeted for more that three big earners in that front row.
    As for second row: it is one of those positions where you could maybe carry one youngster learning his way, but Gilchrist or Turnbull need to mature really fast if they are to cement places. If you wanna get a beast and are willing to waive the ‘Scots qualified’ bit then do what Ulster did: look at the South African units playing well but being frozen out of international opportunities.

    The real crying shame is that we are heralding crowds of around 5,000 as a huge success. Hopefully CEO Dodson utilises his background and makes the right marketing decisions with his team to help attract more people to the grounds. The game cannot grow beyond its current means if the gates do not increase. BUT… right now the product looks good. Just gotta keep Glasgow’s league hussle and Edinburgh’s Cup run going.

  7. I’m aware how lucky Edinburgh are to have a quality first choice front row, but if either of Chunk or Cross get injured then their replacements are not good enough – Traynor and Gilding have done nothing to show that they can hack it at the Pro12 level, and Niven (who I used to play minis with when we were kids) is still developing. Glasgow found Mike Cusack down south. A solid pro prop, nothing flashy, doesn’t get pushed back or fold like wet cardboard at the scrums. Edinburgh don’t need to be looking for world class props, just someone better than what they already have.

    A tough, hardbitten, heavyweight second row would do wonders for our scrummaging ability, and general tight play. Gilchrist is doing well, but I think Dodson/Bradley should make this area a priority now, as Cox and Lozada don’t offer anything like the muscle we need. I think you’re right – South Africa beckons.

  8. MJW:
    On the need for another GW Back: look at the Lamont piece above- he is available. Maybe Glasgow will look to bring him back.

    The rumour also runs that Willie Mason, the controversial League convert, may be walking out of Toulon soon. If Glasgow want to take a HUGE risk with some explosion in the centre he could be snapped up, or indeed Adi Jacobs the experienced South African centre who is looking at free agency as he departs the Natal Sharks (although he looks likely to be snatched by the Stormers shortly).

    A bit of risk would be entertaining, eh?

  9. I’d like to see Lamont back at Glasgow either on the wing or at FB. Hogg has started the season very, very well, but we don’t have a good back up if he gets injured.

  10. regarding the referee chat, I don’t like to get on their back, but from a supporters point of view, it’s frustrating with how poor/inconsistent the referees from Italy are. Glasgow have had 3 italian refs at home (Treviso, Dragons, Ulster) and each game has been the same. No consistency in the application of ANY laws of the game.

    Still, two wins from those three games is still good. Onwards and upwards for the warriors!

  11. Spoke to Ally Hogg once following Scotland v Italy RWC ’07 (when Kaplan nearly screwed us) and he said players never mind if the ref is sh*t, as long as he is consistently so.

  12. If a ref is rubbish then he is rubbish for both teams. I also don’t think a referee would ever reach this level of competition and be biased. However, it is when a massive mistake is made that people get tetchy- is there a platform for apology? I know there are regular internal reviews and glaring errors are made clear to them.
    We shouldn’t jump on refs. Their job is hard enough.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion