Leinster 34-34 Glasgow

In the opening 40 minutes of this pulsating game Glasgow did their best to erase the sour memory of the 6 Nations in one fell swoop, before bringing back more than the odd unhappy memory that as it turns out only served to set the scene for a nerve-wracking finale.

The first half had everything that you would want from a Glasgow performance: unsettling defence, offloading at pace, forwards making ground, backs that are hard to bring down and above all an utter commitment to attack.

Stuart Hogg was at the centre of it, continuing his fine running form with an opening try that was created by Richie Vernon – filling in at 12 as Pete Horne moved inside to 10 to deputise for the late call-off Finn Russell. Vernon popped the ball to Hogg who scampered between a couple of defenders to drive the ball to the base of the posts – at least that is how it looked, to the delight of laws purists everywhere.

After a pause to remove the young tighthead Zander Fagerson (in only his second start he lasted 9 minutes sadly), Glasgow resumed the onslaught on a Leinster side that wasn’t their top side but still had players of the calibre of Reddan, Gopperth and Kirchner in the side. They were never going to stay quiet for long and after some great scramble defence from Glasgow denied their first couple of chances, good darting breaks from Madigan gave McFadden a scoring chance. You could say the grounding was a little iffy (Niko did) but it still looked like a try and an excellent conversion out-wide into a strong wind brought it back to 7-10.

Glasgow’s attacking brand of rugby seemed to be to referee Owens’ liking and he did much that seemed right and proper, including whistling squint feeds and stamping out players holding others in the ruck and begging him to award penalties.

Tommy Seymour almost had another of his famous interceptions after he brilliantly read a long missed pass and got his fingers to it but couldn’t get any more control than that on it.

Richie Vernon had a bit of a golden spell and continued to impress at centre. After some great offloading by Strauss and Swinson (who excelled here where he seemed to struggle for Scotland), the other Big Richie popped up twice in the same move, breaking free of Leinster’s defenders with a solid line and placing over the line by the post. He almost created a third, as a grubber from Hogg took a lucky bounce into his hands but the best that could be said about Vernon’s pass was that the guys in the stand would have caught it easily.

Glasgow were playing so well that Seymour could afford a wry smile at the pass that had soared above his head.

The third try came soon enough, with Mark Bennett creating it on a perfect outside centre’s line, cutting back inside and opening up the defence before finishing it himself. Just to prove it wasn’t the Vernon, Hogg and Seymour show, he took over kicking when Hogg limped off and nailed a long range penalty to make it 7-27 at half time.

The wind was strong, and would probably be worth some points in the second half, but Glasgow were nailed on for the bonus and the win.

HT 7-27

It was a horrible restart from Glasgow.

Sleepiness around the ruck straight led to a simple, and soft try from Isaac Boss. If there was a worry – other than the inability of Scottish teams to play properly in the 40-60 minute period – it was the relative strength in depth off the benches. Leinster were calling on the likes of Boss, Cian Healy, Sean Cronin while Glasgow had – with all due respect – Conor Braid and Glenn Bryce.

Another penalty for Madigan followed soon after (but thankfully not directly from) a farcical touch judge intervention for a punch by a Glasgow player that turned out to be Al Kellock patting someone on the head.

Leinster’s shape and intent was markedly better in the second half as they found a lot more space through Glasgow’s midfield – Vernon went off soon after looking a little sore – while Glasgow were shuffling Fraser Brown to openside as Strauss left with a blood injury.

A ragged Glasgow’s cause wasn’t helped after Niko Matawalu lashed out with an elbow after Healy hit him with a cheap late tackle then tried to hold him from rejoining the action. Not for the first time his rash streak cost as much as it earns and while Glasgow’s fans will miss him, Glasgow’s title aspirations will perhaps not.

Leinster were now only ten points down, and a quick one-two punch of converted tries from Jordi Murphy then Isaac Boss again suddenly sprang the hosts into the lead and a bonus point; Glasgow were barely clinging on.

Once again a Scottish team were starved of ball and made to tackle solid for the third quarter, a demoralising experience for sure that resulted in a total reversal of the momentum. At least they weren’t kicking it away: most of the turnovers came from knock ons, breakdown steals or the whistle of Mr Owens.

Niko had an armchair ride to spark attacks for Hogg and Seymour; when Pyrgos came on (Niko did not reappear) he looked like Greig Laidlaw, harried and unable to get the cleanliness and pace of ball seen in spades in the first half.

With the wind they may have also had the ref, but Owens saw things less and less Glasgow’s way as the game wore on (does he reward the team with the upper hand?). Even Boss’s squint feeds that would have been picked up in the first half.

Glasgow entered the last 20 minutes mustering as much energy as they could, attacking the Leinster line at 34-27 down. Great forward drives by Johnny Gray – deputy for Al Kellock at this point – and Swinson gave Horne the space to spin it wide to Glenn Bryce to make it over for the try. The conversion wasn’t easy, but Horne (who had an excellent game) had the cool head to kick it and make it 4 tries apiece, and 34 points apiece.

Glasgow had a chance to win it as Seymour (again chasing the interception) got a boot on a loose ball and although he gathered it inside the Leinster 22 was forced to hold on in the face of 3 Leinster players.

With 3 minutes to play, Glasgow managed one last lineout inside their own half to try and get a score.

What followed could be described as some form of extreme torture as both sides left everything in the dirt and grass of the RDS, possession swapping a couple of times as neither side had the strength to break the other, nor the will to concede. Finally, 2 minutes past time, Glasgow won a penalty, but by then it was clear continuing to play and chase a win was risky at best.

The ball went into the stands; honours even.

SRBlog Man of the Match: Hogg was excellent (for a half), Vernon brilliant for about an hour but Mark Bennett was superb for the whole game in both attack and defence. We all knew he was special in attack but pretty soon – if not already – he’s just going to be special full stop.

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27 comments on “Leinster 34-34 Glasgow

  1. Andy on

    Is there a half time nutrition problem that has permeated Scottish Pro Rugby? We seem sluggish and feeble for the 15 minutes after half time. Good result in the end for a Warriors team that for the second half was down 6 first teamers and the same again in quality squad players.

  2. Another mike on

    Great result in the end. But what mare of a third quarter. Anyway, 3 points and plenty of attacking rugby to enjoy. Nice to see what can be done with good quick ball and service. A lot of experience gained by some of the fringe players, and nice to see Bryce get the tying try in the end.

  3. Matto on

    Nae finger nails left. Andy, I thought the second half drop off was due to the discrepancy between the players that got injured and their replacements, plus Niko’s yellow. The combo of Vernon, Bennett and Hogg was sparking. The replacements couldn’t fill the boots, unfortunately. And playing Leinster in the RDS with 14 men is a fools errand. In the end – a decent result.

  4. Rob on

    really enjoyable game to watch,good performances all round in general, hope the young prop is not serious injury, to pick one MoM is difficult as in my opinion Horne Vernon Hogg Strauss and Bennett all equal .a good solid performance I’m so pleased just to have seen such an encouraging performance all round after some horror shows by our national side recently.

  5. johnmc on

    Well done, Glasgow. A better than expected result in a longstanding bogey fixture for the Weejies. Hugely impressed by Bennett’s all-round game, including his competition for ball at the breakdown. Matawalu was a complete muppet to react as he did. He’s done some great things for Glasgow. And also some awful things, so on balance it’s the right time for him to move on.

    • pragmatic optomist on

      Agree with that. He’s turning into a complete liability. His passing is all over the place and inacurate, and he seems ‘crazy’ half of the time. I used to really enjoy watching Nico, now I’m just glad that Pyrgos is fit.

      • Bulldog on

        Nico has always been a liability , he just makes up for it with a bit of genius however, everyone now knows his stunts, now and he has indeed, arrived at his sell by date.

        Thanks for the memories and best wishes to him , (nice guy, very likeable) he has brought an attitude that will live on at Glasgow post his departure.

        Some great performances mentioned all over this blog , however Strauss looks to me like the number 8 we have been waiting for in the Scotland jersey.

        I hope everyone spotted the Bennet penalty , we have had that heavy artillery available to us the whole of the six nations and it was never used once. He can land them from halfway.

        One name not commended in this post is, DTH , look how many tackles he broke, it is these, not so ,simple skills, deployed consistently that make a differnece. I have seen players have good and bad days but I have never seen DTH have a less than average game. It is this departure that I feel the Warriors will miss.

  6. Allan on

    Got up this morning with the intention of watching the game on the iPlayer. It not available!?!?

    I assume that the game was actually broadcast somewhere! Fingers crossed it’ll be on Youtube! Typical BBC…..

  7. Standoffalot on

    Good performance, not helped by injuries. Funnily enough Big RItchie had his best game at centre in the 12 jersey. I have been arguing for donkeys ages that if Townsend insists on playing him as a centre then 12 is better suited to his game than 13, and hallelujah we saw the results last night. Hopefully Vernon can keep it up, especially with Dunbar injured. I thought Pyrgos brought a measure of control to the match for Glasgow. Sure he was on the back foot but he gets the ball away sharp and always seems to pick the right option. Miles ahead of Greig Laidlaw.

  8. pragmatic optomist on

    Agree with Andy about the mentality just after half time. Had they been hypnotised they couldn’t have done much worse.
    They played great rugby in the first half, had the game won by half time, and then proceeded to self destruct.
    I don’t know Bryce as a player, and I realise he is just a young man, but his report should read ‘must do better’. His attempted clearance kick was as slow as a ‘week in jail’ (not helped by Nico), and the tackling for the next 15 minutes was not good.
    The 2nd Irish try was a joke. How many tackles were missed?

    If Glasgow are being made to work hard for their tries and points, then they can’t afford to give so many free gifts to the opposition.
    The first 20 minutes of the second half was a nightmare and nearly undid all of the first half work.
    It was a good effort to grab the ball and get back into the game in the final quarter.

  9. Carl on

    My heart is still recovering. Glasgow gritting it out again with a superb fightback after scary 2nd half start so unlike Scotland.
    Good to see young guns standing firm with Bryce and Allan putting reverses behind them. Would have subbed Nico at half time as save for his great pass to Bennett his service is worse than Laidlaw’s.

  10. Standoffalot on

    On another note Dan McFarland, the Connacht forwards coach has apparently agreed to take over from Shade Munro as Glasgow’s new forwards coach. Can’t say that this has got me exactly jumping for joy, but I don’t really know much about him.

    • Bulldog on

      Who ? Like you dont know him , but I would have thought the Glasgow success could attract a known name with a track record. That said Connacht have improved this season. I felt after the Al Kellock interview on BBC2 last night , he would be moving into the coaching staff. Could he be heading for a Club ?

    • pragmatic optomist on

      Yep. Unsure about this. I thought that after taking a tough decision, Shade would have been replaced by a known name with a proven track record.
      Being the forwards coach at Connacht doesn’t fit this description.
      I do hope they know something we don’t.

  11. Neil on

    Can anyone answer this question- why are our pro-teams really good and our national team pants when the same players are in both teams? Is it the addition of foreign players that is making the diference at club level or do the players not care to try all that much when they pull on the navy blue jersey? After all, the club sides pay their salaries, the national team may be seen as an optional extra. Whenever I have watched or read reports of the pro 12 matches, our 2 teams are full of players who are motivated and try their best at all times yet that never seems to be the case with our national squad.

    • Bulldog on

      In the case of Glasgow they have imports who augment the team , however some strong scots as well. Edinburgh is improving and need to gain confidence through succeeding in taking the training ground to the pitch and winning. When they get that confidence, watch out Glasgow.

      At one time Scotland depended on just one layer of players and there was no depth. Now we do have some players who can step up and fill a role.

      I think we have to accept that when we compare the ones we think standout in the team, to their international peers, they are just average. What is more the just average ones are in key positions.

      So if you were to pick a lions team today , who would be your Hooker, Tighthead, Number 8, Openside, Scrumhalf, Stand Off, Centre and full Back.

      We support them because they are all we have however if we are being ruthless, who would make the big stage. Every other nation would have at least 3 players in the squad. Scotland – maybe 2 at best and even Stuart Hogg may lose out to Halfpenny.

    • FF on

      Scottish talent is concentrated in two teams. Our 6N rivals typically have players spread around far more clubs so it isn’t easy to compare the success of our clubs to the failure of our national team like that.

      Also, test level is far better than the Pro-12. Our record in Europe, where the standard of rugby is much higher than the domestic leagues, is poor. This shows our players are talented but have limited experience of success at the highest levels of rugby. Our current squad is callow and has the time and potential to get this experience and succeed at test level but you can’t expect mostly a bunch of young twenty-ish guys to all walk onto the test stage and excel. Those who can, like Gray and Bennett are very special players. In my opinion Russell is talented enough to become one of Scotland’s best ever FHs, but it is going to take him a few years in the spotlight to understand how to manage a game effectively, make the right decisions and lead his backline. Even Ford, English FH messiah, gets noticeably ruffled when under pressure and he has served a far longer apprenticeship than Russell and is probably a greater talent.

      • Bulldog on

        Well I have compared them like that and righty so, as there is no other way we can compare them?

        We also have players playing in other countrys so I do not accept our issues are centred on only having 2 teams.

        I think we need to spend money making both clubs excellent, not putting it into a 3rd side.

        Glasgow are leading the league and they play (and have beaten) Munster, Ulster and Leinster in the league who are former Heiniken Cup Winners.They won the cup playing in the celtic league which is our league.

        Glasgow have beaten Bath who have also won the European cup and are presently 3rd in the Aviva premiership.

        How much greater experience would you like them to get? Glasgow are beating former European championship sides.

        So I do not agree with you.

        Neil has asked a good question and this is not answering it. The facts do not lie , we are competing at pro 12 level with former european champions – those are facts.

      • FF on

        Bulldog – I did answer the question. Our pro-12 teams have an advantage at that level because Scotland concentrates its talent more than other countries (even Italy is unable to retain its best internationals in its domestic sides). Not only that, but there is a huge gap in standards between pro-12 rugby and European rugby or test level. I think trying to deny that is pretty naive. The game is faster and more intense in Europe and internationals and it puts your skills and decision making under much more intense scrutiny.

        Yes, Glasgow beat Bath in Europe – but when they needed to win crunch games they failed. That is a fact.

        Yes, we beat Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Ospreys in the Pro-12, but we rarely play them with their full internationals and Scottish sides have still failed to do what all of those sides have – win a trophy. That is a fact.

        The experience I want them to get is being regularly exposed to the most intense pressure and executing their game well. Between the Edinburgh and Glasgow squads, we have one appearance in a Pro-12 final, one HC semi-final a handful of Edinburgh players appeared in and that is about it. When Towsnhend talks about his squad learning from the experience of reaching semi-finals and finals and using it to go the next step, that is what he is talking about.

        When coaches across Europe talk about the role of European rugby in preparing their young players for the test stage, that is what they are talking about. Lots of our talented guys looked raw when they appeared in the 6N. So yes, they desperately need experience – but they are a young group with lots of talent and they have a great chance to do it. But most of them are nowhere near the finished product.

      • Bulldog on

        FF- I would say Glasgow did not progress for many reasons and yes they are gaining experience, so is every other team competing in the cup.

        They are also playing teams which have succeeded in Europe and beating them in the PRO12. so they are competing. You seem to be missing that point.

        Many teams in the other nations did not progress in the European cup , like Glasgow and Edinburgh, yet their national sides are performing well, the 6 nations could have gone 3 ways on super Saturday.

        So , with regret, I still do not get your point?

      • Neil on

        I have to agree with Bulldog. Glasgow play at the highest level and compete on level terms with the best in Europe. Edinburgh have also improved massively. My own opinion is that our players lack motivation when they pull on the dark blue jersey. They do not reach the levels that they do for their clubs- is that because they are being paid more to play club rugby than for their national team which may be viewed as a bit of an optional extra- I wonder!

    • FF on

      Also – glad to see you finally think Edinburgh are ‘really good’ as opposed to the barbs you were throwing their way earlier in the season.

      Since October, when Edinburgh were 16pts behind the league leaders, Glasgow, they have won almost exactly the same number of points as them and are now just 17pts behind, as well as making the QF of the diddy Euro Cup. That is some achievement – if Edinburgh hadn’t had a horrendous injury list and disastrous start to the season they would certainly be right in the mix for a play off place. Imagine that, two Scottish sides in the pro-12 play offs!

      Let’s hope they keep their form going through to next season.

      • Andy on

        Edinburgh have a very decent set of forwards and if they can add 2 or 3 quality backs they will be a potent force

      • Bulldog on

        Yes I have been critical of Edinburgh for good reasonS. Edinburgh are and improving side and need to grow confidence is what I have said.

        Edinbugh are seventh in the pro 12, finished last year 8th , year before 10th and the year before that 11th. They are improving,

        They beat Scarletts away which is commendable. They lost to 13 man Ulster I cannot get away from that.

        Glasgow lead the table and have been in the playoffs. They have lost a huge number of players to injury and are now losing players who are , from what I hear , being given better money. Edinburgh will have a stable squad and no one is poaching them right now (why ?) so there is potential will continue , I hope.

        There is hope there for Edinburgh and thanks for the facts – it does auger well however I think this is now a young mans game , so the potential had better materialise quick. SHC looks sharp to me BTW.

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