Glasgow travelled to the south of France to face Montpellier, eager to grab some points from a fixture that saw an understrength team defend their impressive stadium. And in the end that is pretty much what happened, though maybe not as either team would desire.
There was excitement from the early seconds, with Montpellier flanker Bost coming off second best in an encounter between his face and Stuart Hogg’s knee. After having a snooze he clearly wanted to carry on, but was also clearly not capable of doing so. Montpellier were forced to reshuffle an already makeshift deck, with most of their firepower sitting on the bench or in the stands. Tomorrow there may be a few players who feel they had been doing a few rounds with Carl Froch in the first half as first Bost, then Arambaru then Fusaro all went down with awkward knocks to the jaw and only the Argentinian was able to stay on the field.
Both kickers missed chances in the blustery conditions, but were marshalled by scrum-halves willing to throw the ball about. Jackson’s shot was probably in Weir’s range, as was the next one he spurned for a kick to touch that subsequently came to nothing.
Shortly thereafter Jackson was unlucky to be (if correctly) judged offside after chasing a mammoth up and under from Rory Lamont that would put him in acres of open space and both sides upped the pace a bit. After half an hour it was still 0-0.
Ryan Wilson came on for the dazed Fusaro but then almost immediately the atmosphere picked up and the home team pushed hard, and patiently worked the ball over wide in the corner. That lapse aside Glasgow looked secure, but handling errors and sloppy kicking meant they hadn’t troubled Montpellier’s 22 at all.
Dewey replaced Hogg at the half – Murchie went to fullback rather than Lamont, which seemed a strange decision – but at least they began with some good ball and earned a penalty. That one was spurned too and the pedestrian attack chosen as an alternative ended in a knock on. When eventually Jackson knocked over a penalty too easy to turn down, they went for a snooze of their own and Montpellier hit straight back to return the margin to 7.
Glasgow had a clear edge in the scrums second half, but Andrew Small didn’t seem to notice. Possibly he had fallen asleep at the mammoth (and inconsistent) pauses he kept leaving between the elements of his scrum countdown. Neither could the Warriors make any use of any of the ball gained via the set piece, with continual errors. Their back play looked almost as forced as Edinburgh’s had looked instinctive the night before. The absence of DTH Van Der Merwe is notable in games like this one.
Glasgow kept turning down kicks as they chased parity on the scoreboard and a period of attack incredibly short of the line saw Bustos yellow carded for handling in the ruck. Kellock went straight for the scrum and Glasgow recycled the ball quickly to Rory Lamont who ran over at the corner.
Yet again though, Glasgow couldn’t hold the momentum despite now only being 3 points adrift and a man up, as they lost their own set piece and Montpellier worked through a powerful rolling maul. Minutes later Glasgow were back on the offensive after the impressive Beattie broke from the scrum and set Cusiter loose but a wide pass from Beattie later in the move undid all his good work and gave back possession. Glasgow upped the pace again but failed to put it through the hands well enough to seal a win.
At 77 minutes they were presented with a real dilemma – take a kickable penalty for the draw at 13-13 or go for a try and the win. Sense prevailed in Kellock and Weir – now on for Jackson – drew Glasgow level for the first time.
Montpellier, stung into action, launched one last attack into drop-goal territory and despite Glasgow’s defence stopping them from taking a shot at it, an offside from Ryan Wilson was caught by the touch judge to give Montpellier a penalty. A draw would have been about right and a loss for Glasgow – poor as they were – something of an injustice, so the Montpellier replacement scrum half duly obliged by scything his kick wide.
SRBlog Man of the Match: Johnnie Beattie
Montpellier: Peyras-Loustalet, Berard, Bosch, Combezou, Audrin, Perraux, Escande, Shvelidze, Ladhuie, Kervarec, Tuineau, Hancke, Bost, Martin, Matadigo
Replacements: Caudullo, Nariashvili, Bustos, Gorgodze, Galletier, Paillaugue, Trinh-Duc, Doumayrou
Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg, Federico Aramburu, Peter Murchie, Troy Nathan, Rory Lamont, Ruaridh Jackson, Chris Cusiter, Ryan Grant, Pat MacArthur, Mike Cusack, Richie Gray, Al Kellock (captain), John Barclay, Chris Fusaro, Johnnie Beattie
Replacements: Dougie Hall, Jon Welsh, Moray Low, Tom Ryder, Ryan Wilson, Henry Pyrgos, Duncan Weir Rob Dewey.