Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Bath 20 Glasgow 15

Sean Maitland - pic © Al Ross
Sean Maitland - pic © Al Ross

European Rugby Champions Cup Round 6, and Glasgow found themselves with the unenvied task of having to win at The Rec to – depending on other results – qualify for European quarter finals for the first time in club history.  But as Bath were in a similar boat needing a win to progress, it promised to be fast and furious with two clubs that boast international-class back lines and play adventurous rugby.  One slight crimp for Glasgow was that back row injuries meant Fraser Brown, Leone Nakarawa and Richie Vernon started with Sean Lamont on the bench as back row cover; a reversal of fortunes from the round 1 match where Bath had back row woes.

After putting the ball out on the full off the kick off then conceding a penalty from the resultant scrum, Glasgow defended positively and after a couple of strong runs from Maitland and DTH Van Der Merwe, Dunbar was in for the first try of the game within 5 minutes.

When either side had possession in the first half they were both keen for quick ball but minor errors meant lots of set pieces. While Glasgow struggled in the scrum, Bath were having problems with their line-out. Although generally solid in defence, a number of penalties were conceded by Glasgow allowing George Ford shots at goal. After missing his first one, he nailed the next two.

HT Bath 6 – 7 Glasgow

Glasgow started the second half with two replacement props in Jon Welsh and Jerry Yanuyanutawa on for Cusack and Reid, who were put to the test almost immediately and although they were penalised too by referee Lacey, at least former Bath player and pundit David Flatman felt it should have been theirs.

A counter attack from their own 22 went through many hands and good support work allowing Vernon to score a great try in the corner. After a brief conversation between Lacey and the TMO – with Lacey leaning towards awarding Bath a penalty in back play – the try was awarded. Russell missed the conversion.

Bath immediately struck back with a penalty try resulting from Al Kellock being adjudged to have pulled down a rolling maul heading for the try line. Kellock was also shown a yellow card.

A topsy turvy game continued after Glasgow were awarded a scrum penalty that Russell duly converted to re-take the lead. Anthony Watson made a break for the line but was held up by Russell and Maitland to be denied a score. However from the resulting scrum Lacey awarded Bath a second penalty try.

With 10 minutes to go and 5 points down the gamble button that is Niko was pushed by the Glasgow management.  He did what we all expect, and caused all manner of chaos and disruption, leading to Glasgow piling on the pressure with several visits to Bath’s 22 but crucially leaving with nothing to show for it. Unfortunately the last attack – at one point inches short of the try line – led to a Bath penalty and by the time the lineout from it was taken, the clock was in the red. After securing their own ball the ball Bath booted it off the pitch and the game was over.

FT Bath 20-15 Glasgow

The result meant 3rd in the pool and no quarter final, but Glasgow can hold their heads high after that performance and several great results earlier in the tournament. They will rue dropped points from earlier rounds; especially against Toulouse. That said, Warriors are in a good place and a lot of teams should pay them far more respect next season. Townsend, his team and the fans can be very proud of their team.

SRBlog Man of the Match: Whilst Bennett, DTH, MacArthur and Dunbar played well the nod is given to Fraser Brown on his first European start who was immense in a game where he was playing out of position at openside flanker. Will big Vern have taken notice?

19 Responses

  1. Have to admit, initially I feared the worst but only caught this game just after half time due to sunday overtime ;). What a belter, it could have gone either way, the 2nd glasgow try should be replayed to every age group to show how running in support works.
    Will be interesting to see whom is in the pools next year, but Glasgow should fear no one and everyone should beware Glasgow.

  2. Agree with MoM award. I’m not sure if Fraser Brown is quick enough to be an open side. If he can deal with Francois Leow he can compete against anyone. I’ve heard various snippets that he used to play in the back row, but not sure whaen he converted to hooker.
    Exciting match which could have gone either way. Another 6 inches and Maitland would have been over in the last minute.
    The substitutions of the props at half time had zero effect on the scrum which continued to go backwards. I’d be interested to hear what happened in this area. Are Bath really that good as scrummagers?

    1. I heard on commentry that Brown plays openside for Heriot’s.

      I have seen Bath destroy every team they have played at scrum time this year in the Aviva. Though James does bore in and gets pinged by some, Alterac is immense and I have no idea why James gets the start so often.

      Thought Glasgow were excellent everywhere except the scrum and with even less than parity (as opposed to the mullering they took) would have won.

      Not convinced by Maitland at 15. Bennett showed how much he is missed when absent. Hopefully Dunbar will recover quickly, Horne seems to have regressed.

  3. Also, question for anyone more familiar with the laws than me – having watched the highlights a number of times, for Bath’s first try there seem to be at least three or four Bah forwards totally offside and obstructing the Glasgow defence, they aren’t attached to the pod with the ball except with a handful of jumper which isn’t bound as far as I understand and they take out most of Glasgow’s pack, why isn’t this a penalty offence?

    For Bath’s second try, why was a penalty try given at all?

    1. TBH the maul at the moment is a bug bear of mine when it comes to the officiating, it is becoming as bad as the scrum a spectacle; the defending side will be very lucky to stop it legally in the eyes of the referee and most attacking teams only get penalised if they make an absolute hash of setting it up. The amount of truck and trailers that don’t get picked up is making it an easy potent attacking tool as you are likely to either get a try or a penalty from it.

      And you are right, being bound on now just seems to mean having hold of a shirt instead of arm and shoulder making full contact.

      But it all comes back to interpretation and consistency and that could lead to a bigger rant…

  4. Brown used to play 7 a lot for Heriots when he and Kevin Bryce were both in the team. Lately George Turners been doing the same. Heriots seem to like hookers who can play in the back row.

  5. “with Lacey leaning towards awarding Bath a penalty in back play”.

    Yes, a polite way putting Lacey’s attitude throughout the game. Thank goodness the TMO was an honest man and stood firm (even the commentary team said it would be a travesty, a ‘shocker’ if Vernon’s try had been chalked off for a perfectly legal attempt to clear a ruck half a pitch away). The first penalty try and yellow card were debatable (as pointed out by FF) and the second one was a travesty (it may be a coincidence but Ford was off the pitch at that point and so kicking from that far out would be very difficult for his replacement kicker…script cue, penalty try so can’t possibly miss). Again the commentary team were at a loss for the penalty incurred. James’ cheating (boring in) at the scrum was unbelievably overlooked, including one very blatant attempt to pull Cusack down. It’s difficult to tell kids to respect the referee when you see that sort of display at a professional level.

    However, Glasgow were brilliant and Bath didn’t need their ref at the death with the superb Louw getting in there and winning erm…a penalty…overall, the better team, and not for the first time, lost.

    1. I deliberately did not go down the route of saying the referee was Bath’s XVIth player because I simply do not believe that. Too many sides and fans use the referee as an excuse..

      Unfortunately we are back to consistency in the officials and the lack thereof. I feel the main problem is that were some referees, Owens for example, try their hardest to let the game flow i.e. if the scrum collapses but the ball is at the back and the scrum half can get it then play on. However there then those, Lacey and Barnes spring to mind, that seem happier to stop the game and award penalties.

      As a player I always preferred the referees that was constantly talking to the players to get the game to flow. Far better to play in, far far better to watch.

      I think Glasgow, by extension Edinburgh and Scotland, are not as street wise as others in winning penalties from a referee. BTW being able to “win” a penalty is not a good direction for the game to go. Tries of the quality scored by Glasgow is most definitely the way the game should be played.

      1. Yeah I don’t think there’s any bias among referees but there are certainly weaknesses in the law. I raised the issue of the maul because it has changed since I played regularly 10 years ago and it seems to have changed a few times more recently, notably the ELVs supposedly nullified the strength of the maul. Now I enjoy a good maul but you have to be able to contest them and I don’t think you can do that legally at the moment. Similarly, if penalties must be awarded for scrum infringements the refs must be capable of correcting tactics like boring on which make it impossible to scrum properly and are just cheating

      2. Well, the good news about the 6 Nations is that Scotland’s opening game against France is to be officiated by Nigel Owens. Hurrah! Romain Poite for the England game…hmm. Jerome Garces for the Ireland game – OK, I think. Someone called Glen Jackson for the Wales game (please please let him be a scrum expert – who is he anyway?) and Clowncy for the Italy game.

        Barry, I agree generally with your point about the XVIth man (even a XVIIth!) but a referee should referee what is in front of him. Neither team in this game was so totally dominant that you’d be safe to assume the weaker team had conceded yet another penalty and yet key inexplicable decisions consistently went Bath’s way, not once, not twice but in fact several times. I fail to see, for instance, how that maul remained a legal maul as was pointed out above.

        As an aside, the only legal way to tackle the maul (besides having a couple of megatrons pushing even harder the other way) is to barge your way through it but with a posse of obstructing players in front of the ball it is well nigh impossible. With all the rules about obstructing players (also ignored!) the maul defies logic in rugby. The only other way is to stand back and not engage but that is a high risk strategy – especially with someone like Lacey around – as it can mean a free run to the try line (unless by some miracle the rolling maul trips over itself with the sudden acceleration – that’d be funny to see). As a tactic in rugby, as with the scrum as it currently stands, I loathe the rolling maul. Give me Glasgow’s glorious tries any day.

        Besides the second penalty try there were the shenanigans over Ford is off the pitch, no he isn’t. What was going on there? Was it a concussion check ‘cos as far as I could see, nothing had happened to him and even appeared to gesture angrily at Daddy about it. So did he come back on to close out the game once Bath had gone ahead?

        I don’t like moaning about refs strangely enough but G*d they have ruined too many games and robbed them of their entertainment value, the worst being Wales cheating at the scrum and fooling was it Joubert in the Murrayfield game a few years back? There was nothing the Scottish pack could do.

        Where I do disagree with you , Barry, is that Scots have be more streetwise. No, the referee simply has to do his job.

      3. The way in which the maul is refereed has changhed over the years. When I played rugby over 20 years ago lose mauls were allowed to go on for ages and were an integral part of the game. Nowadays it seems that they are stopped at a very early stage. I guess it is to prevent injuries but I dont remember too many injuries occuring within mauls (albeit that was at schoolboy level). Most of the injuries I recall happened during open play and tackling. The scrum is also another controversial area. I really dont know how a referee is to decided which team collapsed the scrum as it is usually impossible to tell. Both areas need looking at in terms of refereeing. I would like to see lose mauls go on for a bit longer but how is the scum going to be tackled?- I honestly dont know but I would be interested to hear what people think.

      4. Glenn Jackson, former Sarries stand-off, who whilst as a player started his ref training then when retired went home to NZ and was fast tracked as a Super Rugby ref. if memory serves from last year’s Super rugby he lets the games flow.

      5. Thanks for the low down on Glenn Jackson, Barry.

        So, all in all, not too bad a group of referees for Scotland’s matches (he said famously…).

      6. Lacey is without doubt a buffoon. But to suggest that he gave a penalty try to make the kick easier because the Bath 10 was off the pitch out-buffoon’s him!!!

        Step away from the tin-foil hat!!!

  6. Re the scrums in the first half. At pretty well every one of them the Bath LH had his elbow pointing to the ground while the Glasgow 3 had his in the regulation position pointing to the sideline

    Queue the Glasgow Tight Head dropping the Bath LH on his head every time and the penalty really couldn’t fail to go to Glasgow

  7. It looked to me that whatever Bath were up to in the front row, their pack was more powerful. They had a stronger maul going too – and so it was inevitable Glasgow would give away penalties for pulling it down etc. not a lot you can do as a ref but penalise for that. Not awarding the try though would have been a real concern tho.

    1. My point is if a scrum goes down and one prop has their elbow pointing to the ground and the other straight out the penalty has to go against the first one. My other point is the Glasgow tighthead wasn’t street smart enough to win those penalties by dropping the scrum.

      If you are sucking the ref into giving you penalties for collapsing it doesn’t matter how strong the other team’s scrum is

  8. I wonder if Gregor is looking to bolster his front row for next season ,every game I have been at this season I have not seen glasgow dominate this area.imagine a stable platform for this team to play from!!!

    1. The very subject of our hungover trip back from the game.

      Consensus included the following:

      Inexperienced No.7 + lightweight scrummager in Kellock wouldnt have helped.

      Cusack reaching fitness but cant be fully fit.

      Pat McArthur too small to be effective in the scrum (although this benefits his game elsewhere)

      We have seen Glasgow front rows this season, with Swinson, Gray, Harley, Strauss and Wilson behind them gain parity. Drop out any one of them (never mind 4 of them) and its a different ball game.

      Question is, does Shade Munro rely on having a big back 5 and mobile, slightly underpowered front row or do they want to beef up the front row and lose mobility?

      I know winning is the name of the game, but i’d hate to lose try’s like Vernon’s at the weekend because we wanted to win more scrums.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion