Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Warriors Drop Points

Newport Gwent Dragons 14 – 14 Glasgow Warriors

If you are rugby inclined and were down in Wales at the weekend you would be forgiven for thinking that the only rugby being played was the Shane Williams testimonial test against Australia at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday. For Glasgow Warriors, though, they are more than aware that they have lost a weekend in drawing a game.

At 14-14 against Newport Gwent Dragons the west coast outfit could perhaps comfort themselves with the notion that they are still unbeaten in six games this season and head home for their Heineken Cup clash with Montpellier this coming Sunday having conceded only one try in their last two games. However this would all serve to distract from the fact that Glasgow never really got going in this game.

The opportunity was there. With dynamic young back-rowers Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau playing in the aforementioned test in Cardiff and the likes of Aled Brew and Luke Charteris out injured it was a chance for Glasgow to claim another RaboDirect victory. It did not even matter that they were resting star performer Duncan Weir, prop Mike Cusick and internationals Gray, Kellock and Barclay. They could have won this game.

If they had won it, though, it would have been by the grace of one of their now trademark late flourishes.

The first half of this game had the incendiary quality and aesthetic value of a bucket of milk. Pass after pass was either dropped or thrown behind as the rain tore down. Scrum-half Henry Pyrgos could be forgiven for box-kicking more than he passed because few players wanted to catch the ball and the Warriors scrum enjoyed some dominance at the set restart.

Johnnie Beattie ran with purpose and Forrester tried to make as many individual tackles as possible but the half was more noteworthy for its lack of incidents. Jackson kicked a penalty and his opposite man Steffan Jones missed his own chances but for the rest of the half no one made a telling error or a crucially correct decision.

Resuming the game at 0-3 the away team again scored a penalty as Jackson kicked over after Dragons’ hands guddled in a ruck. The two 10s exchanged penalties after that and with 15minutes left to go it was 6-9 in the visitors favour. By this point Beattie had left the field for Wilson and dangerous looking Dragons winger Tonderai Chavhanga had long since departed, leaving the hardy fans wondering where a try would come from.

No team in the RaboDirect Pro12 has scored fewer tries than these two outfits so it was no surprise that when hands failed there would be no tries in the opening 65 minutes. However everyone in the crowd was left bewildered and unsure when shortly after those Glasgow substitutions Dragons centre Tom Riley looked to have squeezed over in the corner. It happened quickly. Rob Harley tried to kill the ball and was whistled but home 9 Wayne Evans was switched on enough to spin the ball right and Riley twisted in to touch as he looked to score the try.

An age passed as poor replay after poor replay was watched but eventually the TMO gave the try, much to the chagrin of Glasgow fans convinced that a knee brushed the touchline. Rob Harley was sent off for his cynical play. Jason Tovey missed the conversion. 11-9.

Surprisingly enough the controversy wasn’t over yet. The TMO was called upon twice more as Dragons attempted to score in the opposite corner with a double movement and Warriors raced in behind cover to dot down. The Dragons’ potential try was turned down but Glasgow were awarded after their persistent play.

On for Ruaridh Jackson, Scott Wight was running things at fly-half. At the 73 minute the ball fell to him wide out amongst broken play and all he could do was heave a left boot at it. The ball hugged the touchline but stayed in, looking like it would roll right out of the dead ball area. Covering Welshman Lewis Evans stood with his back to the field, watching the ball in hope it would continue its course off of the pitch, and Wight –who chased like his life depended on it – dived in behind the flanker in a moment reminiscent of Rob Howley’s Heineken Cup winning score in 2004.

The TMO gave it and as the conversion crashed against the posts to render it 11-14 in Glasgow’s favour you felt it would be another smash and grab victory for the Scottish side.

Alas it was not to be. As they had done all game Glasgow conceded one last silly penalty for a ruck infringement and Jason Tovey knocked over a penalty with the last kick of the game to make it 14-all and to hand both sides two points. In truth neither team looked deserving of a win and although some of the ‘Warrior Nation’ may grumble about TMOs and non-tries it was a game where both teams struggled to build phases and score more than one scrutinised try.

Dragons: M. Thomas; Chavhanga, Riley, A. Smith, Hughes; Steffan Jones, W. Evans; N. Williams, Steve Jones, Buck, A. Jones, Morgan, L. Evans, G. Thomas, Brown.
Tovey, Burns, Groves, Price, Tuilagi, Waters, Jenkins, Bedford.

Glasgow: Murchie; Lemi, Dewey, Nathan, Shaw; Jackson, Pyrgos; Welsh, Hall, Kalman, Ryder, Verbakel, Forrester, Fusaro, Beattie.
Harley, Gillies , Wilson, Reid, Wight for Jackson, Low, Dunbar, McConnell.

Attendance: 5,267

Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU)

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15 Responses

  1. The game was dreadful! Glasgow are kicking the ball away too much- if we’d kept it at the end then we eould’ve got the win not a draw. Ruaridh Jackson didn’t have a good game so I’m expecting Duncan Weir to start next week, Ruaridh is going to have to do much better than that to get the 10 jersey from Dunc.
    Our defence was pretty good throughout the game and I thought Johnnie Beattie had a great game, Sean Lineen is going to have a tough job choosing between Johnnie Beattie and Ryan Wilson. The scrum went really well and I thought Moray Low played well once he came on.
    Considering that was practically our 2nd XV I think 2 points isn’t too bad considering that Dragons have always been our bogey team.

  2. A few people have been critical of Ruaridh for his display, but remember that he was playing his first game since the injury against England in October. He hasn’t even had any warm up games in the amatuer leagues, as far as I know.

    That said, some of his mistakes were definitely of the amatuer variety. I just hope they don’t try and shoehorn him into the Glasgow side so that he gets game time before the 6N. If Weir is playing better than Jackson, he should be ahead of him for national selection. If Weir is Scotland’s best flyhalf when the Scotland team is picked, then he should start. He’s good enough, so he’s old enough in my book.

    Glad to see Beattie and the scrum perform well. Still concerned that Glasgow don’t have much fizz in the backs – a more creative centre partnership is needed. Morrison and Dewey are way too one dimensional. Perhaps Hogg will be moved to 13 when R Lamont comes in? I’d also like Alex Dunbar to get more game time. He seems very much in the Morrison mould, but with a better distribution/attacking skills.

  3. MJW:
    I felt Dunbar’s defensive positioning was woeful when he came into the game on Sunday. With a narrow defence he jumped out of the line creating huge holes and if there hadn’t been a double movement he would have been responsible for conceding a second try. That being said, it is impossible to form an opinion on him and the issue I’ve mentioned above could be down to the fact he never gets game time. I do agree that Hogg needs to play- only way he’ll develop.

    Dragons also had a lot of players missing so this is a game Glasgow were more than capable of winning. As mentioned above defence was good but there was a 10minute spell where it disintegrated and that’s when they scored (almost twice). On Beattie, good to see him hungry. Wilson has played very well, but as Glasgow need a lot more tries expect to see JB playing a bit more rugby… especially during the 1872 games where they may need to outscore eternal line-botherers Edinburgh.

  4. Two points lost? I don’t think they deserved a draw. The Dragons st least tried to play some rugby. Glasgow were so insipid with Pyrgos constantly putting up those box kicks. If those are the tactics then they don’t deserve to win games. The Dragons were there for the taking but that gameplan was one of the most negative I have seen in a long time.

    Lineen needs to sign a proper outside centre and get a bit of creativity in midfield. Agree with MJW that Hogg could be an option (certainly preferable to Dewey) but would like to see him become an international 15. A proper ball playing 13 with pace who can bring players like Lemi, Lamont, Seymour, DTH (when fit) into the game would transform Glasgow.

  5. Re outside centre – the loss of Mark Bennett to Clermont is starting to look more and more unfortunate as each game progresses. Especially as he’s been injured for most of his time down there.

    To widen the debate, who would you all have in the centres for Scotland vs England? Morrison hasn’t looked good since (and during) the RWC, S Lamont is not a natural fit there, King is a bit slight and Matt Scott a bit green. On the outside, De Luca has lloked very good at Edinburgh, and I haven’t seen much of Ansbro at LI. Thoughts?

  6. Dave:
    As abject as they were (and this game was WOEFUL. I took 6 lines of notes in the first half and most of that mentioned mingin’ hands and box kicks. Hard to believe skills could be so poor, despite the conditions) Glasgow could have won. A draw was fair because both teams were so poor.
    As for signings, the coffers will most likely be empty and lint filled now. Someone could be moulded into a 13 like Hogg or Dunbar, but they will more readily stick it out with Nathan flitting about near 13 or use two ramming options. They haven’t lost in a while and are used to this stuffy, nick-it-at-the-end type rugby now. It’s ugly but they will be hoping that the personnel they now have will evolve over a season.

    I’ve been very impressed with Matt Scott. King is a bit injury prone at the minute.De Luca has been surprisingly consistent (always his achilles heel). This all being said, Ansbro is a perfect fit if Morrison is at 12, regardless of form. We know it can work. If Lamont is there you have a choice between Ansbro or De Luca.
    HOWEVER, if your back-row is a brutish one- with a Denton for ballast and a Harley/Brown for hitting rucks you can use a Rennie to link and you can have a nimble centre pairing like Scott and De Luca, Scott and Ansbro, King and Ansbro.
    If we be rebuilding again then we can experiment……………………… but we won’t. Not against England.

  7. A.D.

    Right now, my back row would be 6. Brown, 7. Rennie and 8. Denton. As you say, that would room for a nimble centre pairing. Matt Scott plus Ansbro/De Luca would be my preference. But, Robinson is likely to go for S Lamont plus one of those to OCs for the England game. If Scott hasn’t got game time by the end of the 6N, I’ll be very disappointed.

    Flyhalf is the bigger problem at the moment. Jackson’s coming back from injury and was poor vs Dragons, Parks is, well, Parks, and Duncan Weir has been playing very well. Then you consider Laidlaw over at Edinburgh. My big worry is that Robinson leans on Lineen to rush Jackson back, and that he’ll be played over Weir even if Weir is actually playing better for his club.

    Meanwhile, Lee Jones deserves to start on one of the wings vs England, and Hogg also deserves a look in. Here’s my preferredbackline for that game –

    9. Cusiter
    10. Weir
    11. Jones
    12. S Lamont
    12. Ansbro
    14. M Evans
    15. R Lamont

    Laidlaw, Morrison/Scott and Hogg/ Paterson to cover from the bench. Thoughts?

  8. It’s exciting to be sure but I can’t see Morrison being left out if fit, even if he never passes. I think Robinson will look to bring in some young talent but I don’t think it will be in a flood, he’s always been conservative as a selector. More likely to be Sean at 11 and G-Morr at 12 I should think. Although if De Luca continues on his current run of form, he will be in the team almost certainly, I’d like to see a partnership of him and Ansbro given a run…

  9. De Luca’s not a 12, he says so himself. I’d only play him there if he gets time at 12 for Edinburgh. Lamont on the other hand has played pretty well in the position at an international level, and is a useful stop gap until Scott and others can be developed. Morrison provides defensive stability, but 90% gives zip all else.

    With Lee Jones on his current form, I don’t think he can be left out om the wing. He’s a finisher, and seems to start attacks from deep pretty often. I’d really hate to see the same old backline, plus Weir, trot out against England. We need to start bringing in players that can offer more.

    What’s the definition of insanity again? Doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result each time?

  10. Definitely agree with the comments about restructuring the back line. The current crop have had countless chances to break the try scoring hoodoo and I think it’s pretty bloody obvious now that they’re not up to it. If I see a backline containing Parks, Danielli, Morrison and Southwell v England I will do my nut.

    For me the biggest problem position is 12. I am really hoping that Matt Scott becomes Scotland’s 12 asap but assume Robinson will think this 6Ns will come too early for him . I also think we have been sorely lacking any penetration from 15 for some time. Think Robinson will also think it is too early for Hogg so agree R.Lamont is the best option currently.

    I would only make one change to MJW’s backline and that is to have Ansbro on one of the wings. I would like to see Ansbro and de Luca in the side as I would like to see as many good ball players picked in the back line as possible. Ansbro is a good winger and finisher as well as having the skills to play centre. However, I rate Jones so if he was picked I would not be disappointed.

    Saying all that I agree that they won’t experiment v England and we’ll see the usual back line trot out followed by another season of tearing my hair out watching Scotland abjectly failing to score tries.

    MJW, also think you are spot on with the back row. The Brown, Denton, Rennie combo looks a good blend. Time to give Rennie an extended run in the side but I expect to see an out of form Barclay line up v England.

    Alan, re your comments on the Glasgow, I agree they could well have won. But if they had just played a bit of rugby I think the Dragons could have been beaten quite comfortably.

  11. The reluctance to experiment vs England is understandable, but I suppose you’ve got to ask yourself one question – will the new players brought in be any weaker defensively than the ones they’d be replacing? Because it’s almost a certainty that they’d be more potent going forward!

    You could make the argument that Matt Scott or Hogg may be a bit green to deal with the midfield rumblings of Manu Tulangi or the outside breaks of Ashton and Foden, but I don’t think Lee Jones, S Lamont at inside centre would be too much of a risk. Weir at 10 wouldn’t let us down at all, he’s a lot less flaky in defense than Parks or Jackson. Even wee Greig Laidlaw at 10 would be alright, provided he had a back row on top form to protect him.

    Robinson needs to give some these players a chance and get them bedded in, or else we’ll always be scoring tries in dribs and drabs. Jones and Weir, on current form, should start vs England, and Scott and Hogg should be capped before the 6N is finished.

  12. You may be interested in the interview I did with Hogg today, “Keep Your Friends Close…”.
    He refused to say if he thought he thought he should be involved in Scotland training, but also hinted that he would prefer to be an out-and-out full-back. At 13 he could be a waste.

    As for the chat on:
    Rennie- yes. he needs to be seen there.
    De Luca- Scotland’s form 13 now.
    Scott: Would like to be proved wrong but doubt we’ll see him in 6N 2012.
    Denton: Think this year he will see 6N action and the press will be wetting themselves if he and Richie Gray stand next to each other for the anthems…
    Jones: again, unsure if he’ll be used.
    Ansbro: will again be out ‘Everyman’
    Laidlaw: Must, Must, Must be in the squad
    Weir: in form 10. Is now the time to have both him and Jackson in the squad- So long Parks, and thanks for all the p….?

  13. Agree with you on De Luca, Laidlaw and Denton.

    Jones is Scotland’s form winger, he can no longer be ignored. Especially if SLamont plays at 12 – if Robinson gives the vacant wing spot to Simon Danielli I will scream.

    As you say, Ansbro can cover wing and OC from the bench.

    Probably, sadly, a year too early for Scott, although he should be on the summer tour.

    Weir should start, Jackson or Laidlaw to provide flyhalf cover from the bench.

    By the way, good article on Hogg. Another one who might get a look in at the 6N, and should definitely be on the summer tour.

  14. Unfortunate that Scott is still out injured as he’s running out of chances to press his claims. Hope to see him in a Scotland shirt before too long.

    On the subject of 12s I can’t make my mind up about King. He’s a good ball player and I’ve seen him play seem really good stuff for Edinburgh and as we all know we desperately need some creativity at 12, but I can’t work out whether he could make the step up to test level. What do the rest of you think?

    Would really like to see Hogg at 15 but can’t see Robinson starting him yet. I don’t think we have had a genuine test class full back for years so would be great to see players like Hogg and Brown come through. R Lamont and Mossy have their attributes but neither are the complete 15 and I’ve never rated Southwell. If Hogg doesn’t get the call up then I would go with R Lamont.

    Strongly agree that Weir should be the starting 10 v England and that Laidlaw should be in the 22. Denton to start as well.

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