Have the Scotstoun men finally turned the corner?
Glasgow were close to their best at Rugby Park – although not at Scotstoun – against one of the form teams in Europe. Admittedly the Parisians had already secured a home tie in the knockout stages and at times they looked like they would have rather been anywhere rather than the plastic pitch in Killie, but the old adage goes ‘ you can only beat what’s in front of you’.
The final score line was a fair representation of the game, with Glasgow playing all the rugby similar to last week. The first half however was a low scoring affair, aided no doubt by the torrential rain. Do you think Toulon would be interested in a swap to the Pro 12? Imagine how glorious the offloading game of Glasgow would look with clear skies most weeks….
Finn Russell again showed a real improvement in his form, and the young man controlled the Glasgow game well. He knocked over the only 3 points of the 1st half and had his usual mistakes, but the lad still looks a class act who will only get better. The departure of Duncan Weir across the M8 is a clear indication that Finn will be the man in charge, at least for the next few years.
You may have noticed so far that I have not really mentioned much on the pitch. The first half was really all huff, puff and not much else, including on the scoreboard.
HT Glasgow 3 – 0 Racing
As the 2nd 40 kicked off, something seemed to click. The rain stopped, big Leone got his hands on the ball, and Glasgow were motoring. The ball was thrown about, exhibition style. The penalty count was racking up for Racing as well, and Finn added another 3 on 48mins.
The most pleasing aspect of Glasgow’s efforts was the possession. They were first to every breakdown, with Favaro and Nakarawa in particular very effective at blasting Racing92 off the ball. This was giving the backs a decent platform and the returning Seymour was heavily involved, looking very sharp. That spin that he does in contact is a real thing of beauty and the winger was involved in the build up to the best move of the game. Puafisi and Peterson carried hard, only metres short of the Racing line. The gaps out wide were glaring, and Russell delayed his pass brilliantly to send the onrushing Hogg into clear space for the touchdown. The angle from the full back was sublime, the pass was delightful but the way the try was created, with the heavy guns up front pulling the defence apart brought a large smile to the Anderson house. Finn knocked the 2 points over, giving them a 13-0 lead.
The now standard rash of subs arrived, bringing 6 Nations squad member Zander Fagerson on. The big man has been brilliant these last few weeks and immediately went about demolishing the Racing set piece. I cannot believe the improvement in the set piece from the 20 year old.
Luke Charteris then hit Johnny Gray high, giving Russell another 3 point shot, which he calmly made, giving him 4 from 4 and a 16-0 lead for his team. The fly half departed right after the successful penalty, along with Ali Price who had another productive afternoon, their work done at 62 mins. Duncan Weir and Grayson Hart replaced the pair.
The new half-backs had little to do but watch as Glasgow conceded their first points of the evening on 66mins. A painful reminder of what has cost Glasgow dearly this season was offered up, with the rolling maul banjoing over the line. Dulin missed the 2 points.
The last 15 minutes played out as the first half had, with Glasgow dominating possession and territory. Weir knocked over 2 penalties to stretch the game to 22-5 and the crowd applauded the European debut of young Scott Cummings, who got the last 10 minutes. This young man looks an absolute find and will surely represent the dark blue sooner rather than later.
FT Glasgow 22 – 5 Racing
Glasgow were good value for their win, and must use the confidence gained to spark a comeback of sorts during the 6 Nations. That rolling maul though – I know it’s hard to defend but we are making life easy for the referees and opposition. Does Richie Gray know much about the maul? Can we get some consultancy time with him as well?
SRBlog Man of the Match: Sky Sports gave the gong to Leone Nakarawa, given that Stuart Barnes actually loves the big lock/flanker/No.8 but personally my MotM was Finn Russell, followed by Stuart Hogg. Both players gave a timely reminder of their fabulous skill sets. These players do make mistakes, but so do all the world class talents in their early years. We forget how young Hogg is, and how little experience Russell actually has. These guys have amazing potential and I for one will continue to support them fully.
Honourable mentions go to Seymour, Favaro (Glasgow’s own Terminator), Nakarawa and Johnny Gray. The captain just seems to never have a bad game. He carried and tackled like a man possessed for 80 minutes. The obvious choice for the Scotland captaincy in years to come.