Glasgow 27-17 Ulster
Glasgow put themselves back in the playoff hunt with a hard-fought victory over fellow contenders Ulster. The win was put together in the second half, after Glasgow went in at half time 9-10 down after Finn Russell conjured several moments of brilliance that put Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg respectively in for tries. Admittedly Hogg still had to chip and chase himself but for once the miss pass gave him the time to get the kick right.
The first half was less pleasant viewing with Ulster playing some great rugby and several of the Glasgow players looking as if they had only just met rather than spending weeks together in Scotland camp. Dunbar had a much better second half and there is now a chance for the Dunbar/Bennett axis to bed in.
Talking point: Would Scotland have fared better in Dublin if Jonny Gray and Finn Russell had played? Both players had a marked impact on Glasgow when they were struggling, with Gray’s carrying and Russell’s creativity putting Glasgow in control of the second half. Two things Scotland badly missed.
Talking point (part two): Should John Lacey have gone to the TMO to check the Ulster try from a quick throw? There was some doubt if it was their throw (it was) and if they took it from the right spot (possibly), if it went 5 metres in (hmm) or was forward (double hmm). Raised eyebrows all-round.
Best bit: Stuart Hogg’s kick to take Glasgow clear and deny Ulster the bonus point was of immeasurable value in terms of the league, but it was wonderful to see Russell’s kick executed perfectly for Seymour to be able to catch it at full-tilt and on such an angle that he both cut the Ulster defence to pieces and didn’t have to break stride.
Newport Gwent Dragons 15-16 Edinburgh
Competition with Scotstoun for most awful surface of the weekend was keen at Rodney Parade, where an Edinburgh side with a lot more grunt up front took on the Dragons and sneaked away with a single point victory that keeps them in the hunt for a top-six finish. Hamish Watson scored their only try and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne took the rest of the points with his boot, leaving a few out there although whether the cat-calls from the stands put him off more than the unsteady surface is debatable.
Solomons will worry a little that they didn’t score more tries during several periods of heavy pressure where the Dragons were able to resist until the inevitable knock-on. Edinburgh play a little bit like Scotland of a couple of years ago
Their growing depth in the front row will be good for the club and potentially Scotland longer term with Rory Sutherland and Stuart McInally starting to fully challenge for starting spots. Jonny Petrie has talked of more signings to bolster the squad but what they really need is Nasi Manu fit to add a bit more heft to the back row until the promise of Ritchie and Bradbury is hopefully fulfilled.
Talking point: Edinburgh’s defence was solid for large portions of the game but their attack still stagnates from time to time. Michael Allen, Damien Hoyland and Blair Kinghorn look good going forward but with poor footing and conditions for a bouncing ball, the young fullback struggled with a couple of key errors he will want to forget.
Best bit: Edinburgh coming away with the win, just barely.