Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Glasgow 20-14 Ulster

Glasgow entertained league leaders Ulster looking to claw back some of the margin between the two teams in the RaboDirect PRO12 league table in the hope of staying in prime position for a home playoff. In the end the Warriors narrowed the gap at the top to just 3 points in a frantic encounter at a rocking Scotstoun Stadium.

Ulster had been weakened by call-ups to the Ireland squad while Glasgow were largely the same in most areas to the team that hammered the Dragons last weekend.

Conditions were bitterly cold and the ball dropped from a few hands early on as both sides struggled for structure. Indeed the whole game was largely a battle for structure but luckily the Warriors are blessed with at least one man who thrives on a lack thereof.

Niko Matawalu was a constant threat and you could see Ulster twitch every time he tried something, which was often. His awareness was the making of the second try as he snatched the ball from the base of a scrum and then offloaded out the back of his hand to send Seymour over with ease. Occasionally he tries too hard, but the moments of brilliance are so often that you are willing to forgive. I just hope there are no French moneybags watching his form this season.

Earlier Glasgow had been rewarded for patience with a good attacking spell and the first try of the game. Barclay worked the ball wide and Mark Bennett displayed a classic take and pass, pinning his man in the sort of manner that makes you appreciate the basics done well. Outside him to jog over the line was Tim Swinson, who must be creeping up Glasgow’s try scoring table quite quickly.

Horne was picked at 10 ahead of Scott Wight and although his kicking was poor on the night – missing his first three penalties – he was a threat in attack, more than matching Paddy Wallace. Dunbar and Bennett didn’t find quite as much leeway against the league leaders than they did against the Dragons, but midfield defence from both sides was uncharitable.

Up front captain Ryan Wilson continued his rich vein of form leading from the front and was matched in the potency of his carrying by the impressive Josh Strauss, who seems to make a couple of extra yards every time he carries.

Glasgow went in at half time at 10-6 with Wilson held up over the line and you wondered if perhaps they would rue not converting that into points, but almost from the second half kick-off Wallace was charged down as he tried to clear and Murchie scrambled himself and the ball over the line.

There was an unfortunate lull with half an hour to go as DTH Van Der Merwe suffered a head injury (he was later reported to be okay), moving Matawalu to the wing where he still managed to pop up everywhere. Replacement scrum-half Sean Kennedy was happy to keep things pacey as Glasgow seemed able to thrive on the loose nature of the game, backed by a fierce crowd who cheered every half chance.

From set play Ulster were up to the task but as soon as things broke up, the Glasgow back row were battering holes and the backs were hotfoot behind them. In the scrums Ulster had a clear edge in the view of referee Nigel Owens (and in reality too) but Glasgow went well in the lineout.

A slightly directionless Ulster tried a little sevens style of their own but had a try chalked off for a forward pass as Pienaar tried to spark something, anything to get them in a game that the scoreboard said they were still in. Eventually Stuart Olding got on the board and dragged Ulster back into the game with a try in the corner but Pienaar missed the conversion that would have given the visitors a lead.

In reality Glasgow had controlled this one from the outset but it set up a nervy last ten minutes with only a point separating the teams; if Horne had had his kicking boots on they would have been out of sight.

Glasgow weren’t done though as Peter Horne passed it wide and deep seemingly in hope rather than any particular good ideas. Only he passed to Matawalu who set the crowd alight as he scorched round one man and put Morrison in space. He passed inside to Kennedy who was tackled but popped the ball up for that man Matawalu to sprint over for the bonus point, the try and the

SRBlog Man of the Match: Ryan Wilson (with Niko a very close second)

Attendance: 5,613

Additional reporting: Michael Lamont

16 Responses

  1. Shocking kicking from Horne and also a terrible desicion not to replace him or change the kicker after his third miss. An unnecessary bonus point gifted to Ulster.

  2. Great performance from Glasgow. Playing very entertaining rugby. Horne was fantastic with ball in hand but they need someone to step up as kicker though as the game tonight should never have been as close as it was. Seem to recall reading Bennett kicked for Clermont’s under 23 team – he can do everything else may as well kick :)

  3. Bit uncharitable,centre, a really good win and its more about keeping ahead of the rest for the play-offs and get Ulster in the final , simples

  4. Great win for Glasgow but it could have been so much easier if we had switched kickers after the third miss. Despite the fact that we overwhelmed Ulster in the first half, we went in barely ahead at 10 – 6. On another night we would have been punished sorely for our missed kicks. Lets hope we get the kicking sorted out for the next few games. 12 tries in two games, magic.

  5. Great win for Glasgow. Have to agree re. the kicking though it was very poor , it helped Ulster get a bonus point tonight and has cost Glasgow a few times this season. Swinson should try a bit harder to get nearer the posts instead of celebrating before he has even crossed the line , got to help the kicker as much as possible. Looking good for a top 2 finish .

  6. ….. the ‘glass half empty’ merchants are out. It was a great night, great performance and even a reasonable crowd which served up at atmosphere. Maybe Swinson should take the kicks….. churlish of Billy to criticise him for not running round …. it wouldn’t have mattered to Hornie anyway! Pleased to hear DTH is ok. Last comment on a memorable night – managed to bump into the legendary David Humphreys and had a chat with him…reminded him of his tap penalty when the world thought he would kick … a touch of genius

    1. “churlish” , really? maybe if he had ran round Horne would have got it (he was on target,just a bit short) and with a bit of confidence the rest of his kicks would have been better.Maybe if it was the try that guaranteed the win but it was the first try of the night , do that in a team coached by the likes of Telfer or Barnes once and you wont do it again.Its not “glass half empty” its looking at ways to get better . Glasgow played really well , have a really strong squad and can win this. Question , if Glasgow have a home semi do they move it to a bigger ground ? maybe Ibrox and same question for the final.

  7. Real sense of positive momentum around the Glasgow team. Crowd atmosphere was great, hope it continues. Great job Warriors!

  8. So fitting that Matawalu plays for a team coached by Gregor Townsend. Goes from the sublime to silly in a matter of seconds, but credit where its due, the good far outweighs the bad.

  9. Billy – re the question of if Glasgow get a home semi, that would fall just after the IRB 7s at Scotstoun. The stands for that bring the capacity up to 15k. Perhaps we’d be able to keep them for a week?

    For the Rabo final the ground must have a minimum capacity of 18k. The way the Rabo word things its the home union of the top placed team that decides where the final will be held. Given the potency we have in our back line I think it would be madness to have to pay a football club to use their short and narrow pitch so the obvious choice would be to take Murrayfield over for the day.

    Having said all that we’ve a lot of work to do before we can dream of either a home semi or being in the final.

    1. Brodie re. “Having said all that we’ve a lot of work to do before we can dream of either a home semi or being in the final.”
      Absolutley but they are playing well and have a very strong squad so hoepefully they can do it.
      re. change of venue , valid points re. the width of pitch at football grounds but would Glasgow take a final to Edinburgh ? I can see a lot of controversy if that happened even though it makes a lot of sense.

  10. I think it would be like the Edinburgh HC QF last year where people from throughout Scottish rugby turned up to support Edinburgh.

    If Glasgow get a home semi / final I would hope a big crowd would turn out to support them regardless of venue.

    If 20K plus tickets can be sold Murrayfield is the only logical venue for the final…

  11. Horne’s kicking was undoubtedly poor, but that shouldn’t detract from the excellent nature of the rest of his play.

    Regarding semi/final venues, I think we’re maybe being a bit premature tbh! However, afaik there’s no capacity requirement for semis so that could be at Scotstoun (all the better if we have the extra stands up). For me, having to play a final at Murrafield would be totally unacceptable – Do you think Edinburgh supporters would tolerate Edinburgh playing an equivalent game in Glasgow? Glasgow has 3 50k+capacity top class stadiums so I really don’t see why we couldn’t play here. OK, the Scottish Cup final is at Hampden on the Sunday, but I don’t think that rules it out totally and Ibrox, Celtic Pk or even Rugby Pk could be available.

    Nevermind the sporting considerations, a final could draw in thousands of visiting fans of the opposition side who would come to Glasgow for the match and give a multi-million boost to the city economy – I suspect the city council etc would be very keen that such a match was played in Glasgow!

  12. Another good win for Glasgow last night. Top of the table now .

    Good points brought up by Brodie , you would want a full size pitch and it would be best to keep all the money in Rugby and not have to share it with the round ball game.And as Hawkesy suggests it would attract fans from all over Scotland , I could see 30k + .
    All football finals go to Glasgow including the Hearts/Hibs final last year (and Glasgow has a 30k + football game every weekend of the season) so it would make sense to me if the SRU (if all goes well) uses Murrayfield for a final.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion