Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Racing 92 34-10 Glasgow Warriors

Leone Nakarawa - pic © Al Ross
Leone Nakarawa - pic © Al Ross

This European Champions Cup game started with a moment of tribute to Yann Marquez, the Racing 92 kit man who recently passed away, but probably many thoughts in the crowd were on the horrible events in Paris that had caused this game to be rescheduled from last year.

With the ceremonies done, rugby resumed and on a crisp winter day in Paris Glasgow’s woes in the concentration department continued immediately, with Pat MacArthur fluffing a lineout then Adam Ashe passing to no-one, which ended with a penalty and Carter kicking for the corner. Racing’s fullback Johannes Goosen knocked it on and Glasgow escaped pride intact, but the power the Racing pack were bringing to bear was ominous.

It was Glasgow who had the best early chance as a pin-point pass from Finn Russell found Stuart Hogg in plenty of space with two supporting runners and only a flailing hand from Maxime Machenaud flapped the ball loose. Glasgow also had the first chance of points, and although Russell skewed his long range effort wide of the posts after twelve minutes, he slotted another after fourteen.

Both sides were looking to throw it about and Sean Lamont and Mark Bennett featured heavily in the early stages. With Russell in at 12 for injured Pete Horne, the 10-12 channel was always a target but Duncan Weir defended charges from Chris Masoe manfully and most of his kicking from hand was confident and accurate, aside from a blocked grubber. While the big ball carriers were heavily in action for Racing, turnovers were there to be had.

There were a few “14 point” passes going in as Glasgow tried to put Taqele Naiyaravoro into one-on-ones but which could easily have reslted in interceptions. Still, it was pleasing to see Glasgow making a good fist of things after poor recent form.

It was 24 mins before Dan Carter had his first slot at goal, and he showed none of the problems Hogg and Russell were having to equalise to make it 3-3 when it could easily have been 3-9. When Racing did get motoring through a Goosen breakout and some slack defending between Naiyaravoro and Mark Bennett, they offloaded like a teamful of Nakarawas, making ground with scary ease before a small batch of forwards rumbled Ben Tameifuna over for the game’s first try.

Glasgow came straight back with strong carries from Nakarawa, Naiyaravoro, Gray and the impressive Zander Fagerson but Leone knocked on with 5 metres to go. That was possibly the high water mark of the match for Glasgow, as a great Racing kick chase put Weir under pressure and Carter kicked the penalty for holding on, even as refereee John Lacey left them with plenty of time to play the ball.

The ten point gap was perhaps unfair given how much Glasgow had contributed, but if we’ve learned nothing else it is that at the top level against top players, lapses in concentration mean points.

Half-time: Racing 92 13-3 Glasgow Warriors

Both sides had room for improvement but Racing were the ones threatening the greater strides whereas there was a sense that even if Glasgow did step up several levels, Racing might still have too much for them. So it was that the men in light blue came charging through any doors Glasgow left open right out of the blocks, before powering over from a driving lineout, Racing captain and part time shampoo model Dimitri Szarzewski coming up with the ball and the score.

The home side were well in control at 20-3 up and it sadly became a procession of scintillating breaks and deft offloading by players right throughout the Racing team as they chased a 4-try bonus. They followed it up with a rolling maul whenever in range of the try line – all the scores came from the front 5 – and when it was working so easily who could blame them?

Lather, rinse, repeat.

As a Glasgow watcher there was precious little to write home about, although Zander Fagerson continued to impress in set-piece and the loose, while Russell’s passing was slick and Jonny Gray tireless as always. Ali Price too, did his best Mike Blair, tackling whatever he could and often when no-one else could.

It wasn’t that Glasgow were awful or blown away, they just weren’t good enough. It was one of those games when a superior team is content to let the opposition punch themselves out, confident in their abilities to score again if needed; in short they took their foot off the gas a little and Glasgow put together some possession.

The visitors duly took a great chance with a cunning 5 metre lineout fake that left Nakarawa a gap to sprint through and dot down, giving Glasgow not so much a lifeline as a bit of confidence they could put something together. But it was still 27-10, and it remained so throughout a strong spell from Glasgow where Russell was looking to bring Bennett, Hogg and Nakarawa into the game more and it paid dividends, to a point – usually the point where someone forced an offload to no-one to be eagerly snaffled by the opposition.

Goosen had a late chance to snatch the bonus point try until perfectly timed interference by replacement Lee Jones kept the ball just out of his control, so it was that Racing left it till the 79th minute to mount a serious attempt at the bonus through – you guessed it – a lineout drive. What was almost a 15 man shove could not be resisted, and for Racing, it was mission complete – only just.

For Glasgow – another frustrating European adventure all but over.

SRBlog Man of the Match: slim pickings from a Glasgow point of view but refreshingly it came down to two younger players, Ali Price and Zander Fagerson. Price probably edges it as while it was a joy to see a Glasgow scrum not crumple and Fagerson on the charge (suggesting he could be backing up WP Nel sooner rather than later) Price made a couple of try saving tackles that would have had Racing out of sight a lot earlier.

Racing 92: Johannes Goosen, Juan Imhoff, Henry Chavancy, Alexandre Dumoulin, Marc Andreu, Dan Carter, Maxime Machenaud; Eddy Ben Arous, Dimitri Szarzewski (captain), Ben Tameifuna, Luke Charteris, Manuel Carizza, Yannick Nyanga, Wenceslas Lauret, Chris Masoe.
Replacements: Camille Chat, Julien Brugnaut, Luc Ducalcon, Bernard Le Roux, Antonie Claassen, Brice Dulin, Mike Phillips.

Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Mark Bennett, Finn Russell, Sean Lamont, Duncan Weir, Ali Price, Gordon Reid, Pat MacArthur, Zander Fagerson, Leone Nakarawa, Jonny Gray (captain), Ryan Wilson, Chris Fusaro, Adam Ashe.
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Alex Allan, Sila Puafisi, Greg Peterson, Hugh Blake, Lee Jones, Sam Johnson, Glenn Bryce.

11 Responses

  1. Soundly beaten by the end against a team who didn’t play that well.
    Mistake after mistake by Glasgow had to be punished eventually. They really have to take better care of the ball. Racing hit the ball out of Glasgow posession far too many times.Knock-on’s, inability to catch kicks, poor tackling, butchering of opportunities, lack of concentration.
    Four tries from line out mauls says it all.It will be targeted again next week nagainst Northampton.
    Positives, the scrum was rock solid throughout and Ali Price played very well. Thought Lamont and Ashe had stinkers. Hogg created breaks then bug****d them up. Instances of good play mixed in with some dismal stuff and the story of the year so fr.Out of Europe again this year and a chance to concentrate on the Pro 12.

  2. Personally I had Fagerson as Glasgow MoM. A huge scrummaging performance from the youngster.
    Time now to get back to the bread and butter of the Pro 12. A great deal of work to be done there.

  3. 21 turnovers conceded – 11 unforced, although as far an I am concerned there is no excuse for any turnover

    Scrums were good and I second Fagerson for MoM he was solid in the tight and very evident in the loose

  4. Far too many errors and silly passes thrown to static players who were smashed and then lost the ball. Possession is life and yet Glasgow seemed to have no idea how to keep it.

    Forwards in the scrum looked better but they cannot afford to be so slipshod across the backs against Saints.

  5. Anyone else of the opinion that Glasgow are stuttering slightly due to the absence of Matawalu? Also is Pyrgos due back anytime soon as I feel, although the youngsters have been decent, and Mike Blair is solid, they just dont match up to the pace and creativity of those two.

  6. The try albeit late was well worked,taken and finished by none other than Nakarawa, however you only get away with it once. Glasgow are missing the finishing oF DTH and Nico was a distraction to the opposition, when the opposition were all focussed on him , it was happening elsewhere. In reality, Glasgow are unable to cope with lineout drives and are making far too many handling errors and if they were still in the side , it is unlikely they would get involved as the game is breaking down before it gets to the wingers. .

    1. Thanks for the insight bulldog…..being from the highlands theres not much emphasis on rugby up here, compared to down south anyway, and all my knowledge is self taught over many years of just watching basically, so any thoughts/replies to any of my comments are appreciated.

      I agree that the line out drives and handling/ball retention are the real killers to Glasgows play this season, particularly discipline, but just felt that the guys who left last year had a big effect on the season. And maybe their replacements are not of the same high standards….although obviously in rugby there are very fine margins to play with.

      1. Mike ,
        I am no expert either as some here will remind me from time to time. Some of my best friends come from the highlands, some played and others learned post internationals with a heafty glass of jock in hand. I suspect Glasgow are suffering from many tensions , lots of disruption with Shade Munro going, the RWC stealing players, no continuity, Managers contract being extended, disappearing players and a settled squad being unsettled as well as post pro 12 winners motivation . Mattawalu was a bit of a game changer but also a liability. DTH a finisher , not many quite as clinical in the game as DTH, he would always hold a place in my dream team. Both are huge gaps , though Nico had become a known entity in the pro 12, and was becoming stale and being tactically managed by the opposition. It just feels like they need to settle. A lot of individual talent, but maybe they need a summer tour to bond as a team of friends. I think more than anything the playing for each other thing is missing. Guys like Jon Welsh were characters and he is also away. Perhaps the 8th place will shock them into ACTION however I think most will be focussed on the 6N.

    2. Of the 4 ‘first choice’ players who left over the summer (Maitland, DTH, Niko and De Klerk) I think DTH and De Klerk have left us with the biggest holes to fill. But Bulldog, you mention Shade Munro as well, and here I think you’ve hit the nail on the head – above all other comings and goings, I seems to me that since his departure we’ve lost some of our mongrel, and certainly the technical ability of the forwards has taken 2 steps backward.

      Toonie often talks about the importance of getting the basics right, and over the last couple of seasons you’d hear pundits talk about how accurate Glasgow were at the basics, doing them accurately and at speed – but we seem to have dropped off from those standards – and I think that’s particularly obvious in the pack. Too many poor rucking positions, not protecting the ball properly, spilling the ball in contact, scrappy lineouts, poor discipline, deterioration of basic catch/pass skills in tight situations.

      Personally, I’d love to see big Shade come back – although he’d be well within his rights to tell Glasgow to take a hike. Maybe Toonie could convince Dodson to splash the cash and also bring in Richie Gray (the Gala Richie Gray, not the big blonde one kicking his heels on the Castres bench) as the breakdown work that he was doing with the springboks was apparently top class – that for me would be a far better use of money than looking for another ‘marquee signing’.

      1. Fair point and we might be getting warmer here however no u turn for Shade who had a way with him, the value of which could easily be overlooked. He did not have a gob the size of the Clyde Tunnel and a sociopathic attitude which as you say, might be the next move.

        I had forgotten about Maitland. It is noticable that all of the Glasgow departures with the exception of DTH are not first choices at Club level whereas the Edinburgh departures such as Visser and Denton are settling well and getting game time.

        So, what part did the team bonding play in making them look good ? Glasgow used to play like a bunch of friends enjoying themselves, this season they are trying too hard and i csn see relationships breaking as the frustration mounts.

      2. To be fair, I think Niko and Maitland have had a decent amount of game time as well – no idea about De Klerk – should have been banned from the game, no sympathy for the guy and couldn’t give a flying what he’s up to now.

        I guess it’s easy to have a great team spirit when you’re winnning, but tougher when you’re not.

You might also like these:

Craig is joined by Jonny and Rory to look back at the disappointing end to Edinburgh's season and Glasgow's march towards the semi finals.
Gregor Townsend has named a largely experimental squad for the summer tour of the Americas. It's not a question of who misses out, but rather who is actually going, writes Rory.
Iain is joined by Jonny and John to discuss the penultimate round of URC fixtures as well as the recent Scottish Rugby Writers' Awards
Craig is joined by John on the injured reserve list to have a wee look at the URC action from the weekend.

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion