Glasgow Warriors 20 – 15 Montpellier Herault
In this country we like to cling onto good feelings. That’s why we have a whole month of Christmas. Unfortunately for visitors Montpellier they did not find hosts Glasgow in a festive mood as they went down in their third round Heineken Cup match at Firhill despite outscoring the Warriors by two tries to one. Duncan Weir and Ruaridh Jackson kicked a couple of long-range crackers to edge the contest and put them into second in the group.
In keeping with this time of year it was a performance of Beauty and the Beast.
The first major incident in this contest was a mid-air tackle by winger Berard on Glasgow’s Aramburu. As pantomime boos rang out from the 5,287 spectators referee Greg Garner produced his first yellow card of the day. Shortly afterwards Duncan Weir kicked his first penalty of the afternoon. Winger Bustos Moyano kicked his own for Montpellier before Weir pulled back another, following stray hands, to make it 6-3 with 21 minutes played.
After this Montpellier deployed their muscular scrum. Despite missing star turns like Fulgence Ouedraogo and Mamuka Gorgodze in their pack they could still boast a few gnarled Georgian props and their stodgy set piece lent on Glasgow 5m out. After several scrums collapsed and a yellow card was flashed at loose-head Jon Welsh it looked like a penalty try was forthcoming. However, with a favourable turn scrum-half Eric Escande only had to look at the gap in front of him and he was over for the score. Bustos Moyano converted easily. 6-10.
It looked like Glasgow would be subjected to a long stint of Georgian torture as the French side fumbled around trying to score more. The home team have proven themselves mulish thus far this season, though, and in Duncan Weir they have a stand-off capable of kicking the ball from well within his own half. Twice he boomed out kicks from 50 yards plus, and twice they were met with raised flags. The powerful boot of Weir gave Glasgow an unlikely, and possibly undeserved, 12-10 lead at the interval.
Words must have been said because in the second half things snapped into life. Despite one fan screaming out “Is it warm enough for you, Rory?!” the winger finally got his hands on the ball and his jostling frame through tackles. Behind him Stuart Hogg had decided to take some risks, too, and the young borderer threw himself into lines and at areas Montpellier looked at a loss to consider.
The full-back beat his opposite man a couple of times and at one point darted in to create a two on one. With the line begging the full-back only had to slip a pass left to Duncan Weir and they would have been in, but Hogg hesitated and was snared by the cover. Weir shot a few choice words at his teammate and the game restarted.
It restarted without Weir, though. He and Wilson took their leave for Jackson and Fusaro. A few revellers looked about, confused at this decision, but before a criticism could be voiced or a negative prediction heard Jackson calmed everyone down with a long-range penalty of his own to take the game to 15-10.
Jackson added an extra pace to the game and with Richie Gray carrying forcefully and Harley and Barclay smashing competitors out of the rucks it was a game certain to cough up another try. When it did so it was therefore no surprise that it came from a neat pass from Jackson finding a racing Hogg who straightened, trapped a defender and put Aramburu over for a lovely try in the bottom corner.
The conversion was missed but by that point it was almost certain that Glasgow would win. Lazy kicking options turned over ball and Montpellier substitute Matadigo was allowed a track into the scoring zone for one last try but regardless of the kick –which was missed –Glasgow won their last home game before Christmas 20-15.
After the final whistle there was a sense of confidence and a stench of effort around Firhill.
“We are just getting these wins, and had we kept the ball a bit longer we could have perhaps scored another couple of tries” Sean Lineen said. “But this is a fantastic win and we go to Montpellier, who are a fantastic team, with their players back from the World Cup, and it will be a great match.”
The win is indeed fantastic and it keeps the hopes of group progression alive. However, down in France, with the likes of Trinh-Duc, Ouedraogo and Gorgodze back it could be a much more brutal game. Glasgow struggled with a scrum made up of parts –all be it ugly, grimacing, bulging parts –and they will need to be on their mettle to repeat this result. They will also need similarly impressive performances from the likes of Cusiter and Harley and they may need a bit more from internationals Kellock and Lamont. Behind them all Stuart Hogg looks talented and in the mood.
Glasgow Warriors: Hogg; Aramburu, Murchie, Morrison, Lamont; weir, Cusiter; Welsh, MacArthur, Cusack, Gray, Kellock, Harley, Barclay, Wilson.
Subs: Hall, Grant, Kalman, Ryder, Fusaro, Pyrgos, Nathan, Jackson.
Montpellier Herault: Peyras Loustalet; Berard, Bosch, Combezou, Bustos Moyano; Fernandez, Escande; Shvelidze, Ladhuie, Jgenti, Tuineau, Hancke, Bost, Martin, Tulou.
Subs: Caudullo, Narashvili, Kervarec, Matadigo, Galletier, Paillaugue, Gonzales Amorosino, Perraux.