Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Glasgow 33-32 Connacht

Rob Harley on the charge watched by Mike Blair - pic © Al Ross
Rob Harley on the charge watched by Mike Blair - pic © Al Ross

A physical encounter at Scotstoun saw a reduced version of the champions – shorn of more than their entire first XV – take on Pat Lam’s ever-impressing Connacht side who sprinkle Galway nuggetry with southern hemisphere physicality and flair.

Despite the culling of his squad to Scotland’s World Cup effort, Glasgow conjured some star power – circa 2007 – in the form of Mike Blair, who looks born to play Gregor Townsend’s high tempo game and controlled the first half completely.

Connacht like to throw it about too, and the opening 20 minutes saw a 6-3 exchange of penalties and a raft of injury stoppages due to some pretty hardcore tackling. Hugh Blake was on in the centre by 22 minutes, doing his best Richie Vernon impersonation, before on-loan standoff Rory Clegg made it 9-3 on the half hour mark to the chorus of cheers from the Scotstoun faithful.

Fraser Lyle had a nervy start but settled into it, and his half-break led to a sustained period of pressure for the hosts that finished with Glenn Bryce stepping through the defence for the first try.

From there Glasgow upped the pace heading into half time and Connacht sadly played into their hands, concentration slipping. Young lock Scott Cummings battered over for Glasgow’s second try, driving low to put some shine on a very impressive performance. The Warriors boilerhouse looks in safe hands post-Kellock.

Connacht snatched back a penalty on the stroke of half time but Glasgow were well worth the lead and in control.

HT Glasgow 23-6 Connacht

Cruelly ejected from the World Cup squad, Rob Harley received the easiest of pick-me-ups when Connacht scrum-half John Cooney slipped executing a box-kick clearance behind a lineout. The ball bounced into the arms of the charging Harley, who ran it gratefully over the line barely minutes into the half.

Cooney had his revenge moments later, when the Connacht scrum crumpled Glasgow’s and a simple pick and go from the base was passed into his hands for an unopposed run in. At 30-13, surely the comeback was not possible?

Connacht had the momentum though, and Jerry Yanuyanutawa could easily have been binned for a dangerous round the neck clearout and although he stayed on, the visitors kept building pressure founded on a dominant scrum.

Young Zander Fagerson on the other side of the scrum buckled after a series of set scrums and was binned, which spared him being on the park at the next scrum when referee Ian Davies marched under the posts. The Connacht pack had changed the character of the game.

Glasgow’s lead was only 10 and that lasted barely seconds before Fionn Carr gathered a neat grubber and made it 30-25.

Glasgow’s raw troops were looking a little shell shocked but they rallied to get Adam Ashe over the line after good build up play by Clegg and Bryce to spot the ever-diminishing half-gaps in the Connacht line. The TMO judged it was held up but at least Glasgow were in the right area of the pitch with a shaky lead and only 13 minutes left.

The assured Clegg kicked another penalty to ease the lead back out, but Connacht kept at it and only last ditch tackles by Glasgow saved them in the face of huge pressure, at least until 75 minutes when Connacht bundled over. It might have been disallowed had the BBC been able to find any footage of a tackle similar to Yanuyanutawa’s but this time perpetrated on Fagerson by a white player. Nothing was found and the try stood, making it 33-32.

A nail biting final few minutes saw the Warriors furiously defend their hard earned lead – the size of which was frustratingly easily lost up front. A fitting finish though to a game that was that old cliche, two very different halves of high quality rugby.

If you’d said to Mike Blair 5 years ago – during his heyday – that Glasgow vs Connacht would be a fantastic clash between potential playoff contenders and that he’d be playing, he’d probably have thought you’d had one Deuchars too many.

Times have changed, but luckily Glasgow are still finding a way to win.

SRBlog Man of the Match: Scott Cummings was hugely assured for such a young ‘un and Glenn Bryce also took his chances well. Got to go to Mike Blair though who was key to Glasgow playing at the high tempo first half that edged them into the lead. Distribution was superb and you just know he’s going to pretend he doesn’t break any more until just that special moment when it is least expected…

25 Responses

  1. Fantastic result for Glasgow with what was effectively a B team. Was Strauss playing and, if so, how did he get on?

  2. Glasgow did well to hang on in this match, there was a series of phases in the third quarter which almost sent Ashe over for a try and resulted in Clegg’s last penalty where Glasgow really dug deep to salvage the victory. Really excellent result with a patchwork team in the second row and across the back line. If Glasgow can welcome back their test players and still be mid-table they’ll still have a decent shot at the play-offs. Edinburgh should also have a great chance, their pack looks monstrous at the moment and if they can embed themselves in the play off spots they might be hard to shift when they add a bit more back line threat in Scott, Hidalgo-Clyne, and Helu.

  3. Bit like last week in that very much a game of two halves. Scott Cummings looks a star in the making, and Glenn Bryce ran some great lines. Special mention also to Mike Blair whom I felt was excellent, class really is permanent. On a negative note, I felt we imploded in the second half up front with a not inexperienced pack. We beat ourselves with some very basic errors. Also some first up tackles badly missed that really can’t happen at this level, particularly down the 10, 12 channel. That said injuries didn’t help, and Clegg, who had a great game, moving from ten killed us. Scott Wight just isn’t up to this level sadly. Also not convinced by Murchie at 13. Still great result against a Connacht side largely unaffected by the WC.

    1. The pack was fine except in the scrum, this was where Connacht sensed a weakness and ruthlessly exposed it. But what can you do when you have a blindside flanker and a 18-year old in the second row? Whatever front row Glasgow put out would have struggled. I think in these circumstances any win is pretty great, so long as Glasgow are only a couple of games off the pace when the internationals come back they’ll be in the play offs.

      1. I think the pack was good in the first half, I don’t really know what changed at the beginning of the second half though. The scrum, like you say, disintegrated, especially for the Connacht try early in the second half. I think what disappointed me with the second half performance was that Glasgow were so good in the first, and failed to play anywhere near that level in the second. I know I’m being a little harsh but from 30-3 up to nearly lose would have been a travesty. The 18 year old Scott Cummings has been Glasgow’s best player in the first two games and looks a real find, the line out is working very well compared to the tail end of last season. The jury is still out on Low until he’s played in his favoured position. Still I would have taken any win after the Scarlets game, and like you say as long as we’re mid table when our internationalists come back we should be fine for the play offs, hopefully!

  4. Another strange display from Glasgow. They were very good in the first half but really fell away after that, and didn’t win a lot of ball. When you’re winning 30-6 at home, I don’t think you expect any team to fade like they did.
    Fraser Lyle looked a very dangerous runner once he realised he didn’t need to drop the ball when someone passed to him.
    I understand that Connacht are one of the least affected teams in terms of missing interntional players, but I don’t think Glasgow can afford to drift away like they did.
    The whole game changed as soon as the entire front row was replaced early in the second half. I don’t think they can afotd to stick young props on without experienced players to help them along.
    It’s good that the youngplayers get some game time, and Cummings looks a find at lock. Robbie Ferguson also showed some nice touches with the ball in hand.

    1. Robbie Ferguson did not play in this game, he played last week against Scarlets. Hugh Blake came on and played in the centre once Murchie went off early in the first half, did ok as well. Toonie likes his back row to be versatile!

      1. Michael – Glasgow have lost Bennett, Horne, Vernon and Lamont to the RWC squad and are still waiting on Dunbar to return from injury. Lyle is usually with the 7s squad and Murchie is a fullback, so bereft of options is pretty accurate!

  5. Absolutely fantastic result for Glasgow. The fact that a fullback started at outside centre and had to be replaced by a back row forward on his debut for the club, shows just how depleted we are. We then played the whole second half with a standoff on the wing. To come away with any victory in those conditions is huge. Also it was a genuinely thrilling game to be at, if a little nerve-shredding! When the A-team return, Scotstoun is going to be jumping!

    Watched the Ospreys/Munster game today – dourest encounter I’ve seen in years! Both teams just gave away penalty after penalty, killing any sort of attacking play – without Murray, Zebo, and Earls, Munster are dismal in the extreme. Both teams are there for the taking by Glasgow and Edinburgh, though the scrum for Glasgow will have to be improved vastly.

    Cummings is fantastic – I imagine he’ll be a Rob Harley style option at second/back row, as he’s a little shorter but gets around the pitch well.

    Blair and Clegg were great – Mike ran the attacking game, and Rory’s kicking won us the match.

  6. On a side note delighted to see Edinburgh squeeze out the win last night to make it two from two. That was a game they potentially may have lost in the past.

  7. Glasgow did well to edge them out and to maintain their fitness to the end of the game.They are a fit side and usually dominate in the second half but they met their match this week and the tables were turned. We need to give credit to the coaches for the underlying principal of being totally fit.

    In both Glasgow’s games I cannot help notice the quick ball and Mike Blair distributed perfectly. The back line were really moving and Clegg impressed me also and looking at his CV , he is well experienced.

    Mike Cusack had a very mobile game in IMO and stepped up a gear when we needed it however we need to talk about the elephant in the room. Second half Zander F was in trouble , in fact . I was concerned for his safety, he was lifted the minute the scrums came together.

    Shaky start to the season however, you can only play your games one at a time.

  8. It’s fantastic that so many of the young players are getting some game time. It will be beneficial for Glasgow in the long run.
    We’ll just have shut our eyes and put up with the ‘wobbles’and inconsistencies that this brings.
    I’m sure Gregor hasn’t written off the league title this year, although it will depend how far we are behind the leaders when the big names return. Does anyone know how many league games we’ll have played before this happens?

  9. There’s actually only one more round of Pro12 to be played before the 10th of October (Samoa game). And then it starts up again full time the following week. So one more for sure, two if we get to the quarters, three if we get to the semis and four when (ahem) we get to the final. ERC doesn’t start until November, so the direct impact there should be diluted a bit.

  10. agree with Prag Opt, the turning point was the replacement of the front row which seemed too early in the second half, that and an inevitable sense Glasgow had the game won at 30-6. Obviously the bench is there to be used and it can often be used to great effect, but this was an exception. Fusaro, who had become skipper when Murchie went off early in the game, was also replaced soon after the front row – I felt too many of the senior players were off, we lost momentum and no doubt Connacht sensed an opportunity. Can someone tell me – injury excepted, is it better to introduce 16/17/18 in one go or could it/should it be staggered. It was great entertainment though nerve racking for the committed – some terrific players are getting valuable experience. I know Fagerson had a tough time but that boy puts in a power of effort in the loose, Cu as well. Watch a tv replay back and take the time to concentrate on what these guys do in a game. Also a word for Scott Wight who has been a great player for Glasgow and Scotland 7s for years. We are very lucky to be able to call on guys of his calibre in these circumstances – (ok he did get exposed when he was moved wide but the Connacht left wing (note, not Fionn Carr, Hugh Dan) has serious pace); but Wight’s vision is tremendous and he has that Dan Parks talent (one kick excepted) being able to put a ball in a bucket from 40m. The early part of the season is the test this year and there are reasons to be cheerful. One last thought, what’s the canteen like at Kelvinside?

    1. No denying there is a genuine talent in Fagerson’s loose play, however on balance great loose play versus insecure scrumaging is not an option. With regret we have loose forwards for loose play and I see that Fagerson’s role is to secure the scrum, as a priority and anything else is a bonus. He has some work to do to align his value to the pack.

      The changes to the scrum years back were to make the scrum safer, which it is, at the expense of the scrum being an area of competition IMO.

      However in truth it was really to restart the game at speed as they do in Rugby League and make the game more watchable for less informed audiences. Well that idea has gone backwards, as we know, it is anything but fast and the penalty count per scrum is as high as it was before the changes. So securing the scrum is the fundamental of the props role.

      So I think Glasgow need to spare Fagerson before we ruin the confidence of what is a genuine talent, until he is ready for it.

  11. Fagerson has played several times for Glasgow. He has been noticeable for his solid scrummaging. First time I have seen him struggle.

    1. I think a more streetwise opponent taught him a lesson. Good – he is 19 and he needs to play to learn these lessons, he won’t learn them training.

      1. Watching Fagerson in the JWC and u20s 6 Nations he was excellent scrummaging against his players his own age, in fact the scrum was a real force in those tournaments. He will learn, he only turned 19 6 months ago, maybe the new Glasgow forwards coach will help. Shame he hasn’t got a really dogeared vetran prop to help him along though, Euan Murray would have been perfect in that role.

    1. Although I can understand that it’s tough from a fans perspective to see the first 15 and many of the bench missing on international duty, I hope that this will ultimately serve the Warriors well. No other club side in the World will have a squad so battle hardened by current exposure to test rugby. Additionally the 2nd 3rd string will be notched up by their exposure during these 3 – 5 games where the RWC players are unavailable. I suppose the other potential additional negatives are the possibility of serious injury whilst not playing for the club and the increased wage bill of having so many capped players. However, the amount of test experience throughout the Glasgow team, plus the stepping up of young players, should stand them in good stead for the ERC this season.

  12. Glasgow seem to have a great set up and the encouraging thing is that lots of talented youngsters are coming through their system.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion