Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scarlets 10-46 Glasgow

Glasgow vs Scarlets - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography
Glasgow vs Scarlets - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

Glasgow travelled south to the Parc Y Scarlets for a crucial game in terms of the play-offs. Gregor Townsend picked 19 Scottish internationals out of the 23, with Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg amongst those returning. The Welsh had been struck down with a sickness bug, with 20 player suffering but their team had a strong look, with DTH Van der Merwe and Liam Williams looking to put the Glasgow defence under pressure.

The first points went to the home side, with a simple penalty from ‘almost Scottish’ Steve Shingler. Glasgow replied in some style, with Russell regaining his own lovely chip from 10m out to score at full stretch. It was a sublime bit of skill from the always confident 10, and he added the extras to give Glasgow a 7-3 lead.

Glasgow were looking in the mood, with the conditions playing into their free, offloading game. Russell added another penalty on 18 minutes, and then showed a fabulous finishers instinct to touchdown in the far corner, under heavy Scarlets pressure. This time the conversion went wide, but after 25 minutes it was Finn Russell 15 – 3 Scarlets.

Liam Williams is a player I absolutely loathe! I can see how good he is, but he just winds me up no end with his niggly, ‘football’ style antics.. He was on the end of some heavy hits from the Glasgow back row to my obvious delight, but weaved his magic to beat Puafisi with some nice feet and score under the posts. The Scarlets hadn’t been in the game at this point and it was against the run of play but the conversion made it 15-10, and suddenly Glasgow looked nervous.

Lee Jones had been handed the 11 shirt for this one, and the sevens specialist showed good awareness to get on the end of a fabulous Henry Pyrgos break. Jones looked like he had the legs to get to the line but Hadleigh Parks had good gas to cover for the Scarlets. Not to worry though – Jones just smashed through the big No.12, making the line with ease. I admit that I sat up at this point, wondering when Jones had added this development to his game. It was more Naiyaravoro than I expected from the former Scottish International. Russell missed again, leaving the half time score at 20-10.

HT Scarlets 10 – 20 Glasgow

3 tries in the first half for the Scotstoun men, and we had to wait all of 53 seconds before the bonus point was secured, Glasgow taking clinical advantage of their former charge John Barclay receiving treatment. Russell delayed his pass beautifully, Seymour did the hard work and passed inside for Pyrgos, who cantered over for a well worked try. Russell couldn’t miss (even at 67% accuracy for the season) and the 27-10 scoreline looked about right.

The Scarlets now looked out on their feet, perhaps an indication that the sickness in camp was having a big impact. Glasgow had an easy time of it, adding 3 more tries through Bennett, Seymour and Jones by the end. The gulf in quality from the bench was evident and Glasgow were good value for the huge win. Even George Clancy couldn’t do his best to ruin it.

A word of mention though for the defence. The line speed from Glasgow was the best I have seen all season with a number of turnovers caused by sheer physicality on or behind the gain line. Alex Dunbar was at his devious best in this facet of the game and is fast finding his ‘A’ game, at the perfect time of the season.

8 in a row, 2 games left and the Connacht game on the last day of the regular season is looking like a cracker – as well as the decider for a home semi-final.

SRBlog Man of the Match: Lots of great performances from the Warriors, but only one candidate in my head. Finn Russell was absolutely outstanding. The young 10 controlled the game, added individual brilliance, and defensively was hitting as hard as the big men up front. Remembering his average form earlier in the season, this performance showed myself (and everyone watching) just how much potential he has. I would also like to add that I think his passing is as good as Peter Horne… controversial I know, but the way it snaps out of his hand is a thing of beauty. Glasgow are very blessed to have such quality in the ranks. Honourable mentions for Alex Dunbar, who was excellent, and Lee Jones who was a man possessed. The ‘Beast Mode’ moment aside, the winger was a delight to watch, always busy and elusive. No wonder Taqele can’t get a game….

Scarlets: Liam Williams; Steff Evans, Gareth Owen, Hadleigh Parkes, DTH van der Merwe; Steven Shingler, Gareth Davies; Ron Evans, Ken Owens (capt), Samson Lee; Jake Ball, David Bulbring; Maselino Paulino, James Davies, John Barclay.

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Phil John, Peter Edwards, George Earle, Morgan Allen, Aled Davies, Aled Thomas, Steffan Hughes.

Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar, Lee Jones; Finn Russell, Henry Pyrgos; Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Sila Puafisi; Tim Swinson, Jonny Gray (capt); Rob Harley, Ryan Wilson, Josh Strauss.

Replacements: Pat MacArthur, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Zander Fagerson, Leone Nakawara, Tyrone Holmes, Grayson Hart, Duncan Weir, Taqele Naiyaravoro

Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)

13 Responses

  1. It looks as though Glasgow are hitting their best form (finally) at exactly the right time of the season and I think they will win their final 2 games to ensure a home semi-final.

    I must admit I didn’t think we had a hope of defending our title after the back to back losses to Edinburgh, but now I would have us as favourites to win it again!

    As an aside, it’s good to see someone else shares my hatred for Liam Williams! I’ve been a rugby supporter for 30 years and there has never been a player I’ve disliked as much as him, although Johnny Sexton comes close!

    1. Agreed on Williams, can’t stand the guy and his constant childish behaviour. I would throw his Wales FB predecessor Lee Byrne into the mix though, never forgave him for his dive in “that game” that got the Scotland legend that is Phil Godman sent off!

    2. Liam Williams has got absolutely nothing going for him, pathetic.

      Barclay could not help himself offending , throwing his weight around, getting caught, letting his mates down, being shown up . At least he is consistent , just the same for club and country.

      The Scarlets never surrendering the game, Glasgow were by far the better side and the Scarlets would have stooped to any depths to win. So many cheap shots, so welsh, so sour , so beaten , so good .

      Sickness bug ? really, they will be sick now , I would agree with that. I only wish they could get to the playoffs and we could do it all over again.

      Thanks lads, you have no idea how happy I am to see the end of that bunch of louts.

    3. I’ve not noticed Liam Willians being so “football” but I expect to see him ruin games for me now!

      How can you have a discussion on irritating players and not mention Dan “hands in the air imploring the ref” Biggar!!

  2. Great game, well for us at least! Lee jones strength really was impressive and I would recommend watching the highlights of the game just for his ‘brushing off’ a massive no.12.

    My only worry is that Scotland are in the habit of subbing Laidlaw around 60-70 mins and I have a horrible feeling that Finns 67% kicking accuracy might haunt us.

    I think Finn is an amazing talent and makes me think my many prayers were answered when we had Dan Parks, however 67% is too low for an international kicker, even if he isn’t the regular.

    Still, what a talent with ball in hand, when he ghosted about 4 scarlet’s and just fell short was sublime.

    Anyway, random string of thoughts for that match, oh and Pyrgos clashing with Jonny Greys head, nearly knocking himself out, and then setting up a try straight after, loved it! Its all coming up Glasgow!

    1. Yeah Jonesy’s been great recently. I’m not sure about the Laidlaw 60 – 70 mins point though. I’ve not checked the stats, but my recollection is that Laidlaw played almost the full 80 for most of the 6N games and the RWC before that… Notwithstanding, it would be very helpful for options if Russell could get up to an > 80% kicker, not to mention his chances of making the Lions tour.

      1. Hidalgo-Clyne is a pretty useful kicker but his form this year hasn’t been good enough to encourage subbing Laidlaw at around 60-70 mins. I am sure if he or Pyrgos (who can also kick) were available and in blistering form, Laidlaw would be told to run himself into the ground for an hour and we’d actually in turn see the quicker ball and half breaks that we know he can actually do…

    2. Yes hopefully he can improve his kicking from the tee. If it isn’t working though let some of the others try. Bennett and Hogg can both kick from the tee and have boots like siege guns. Kicking is just practice and technique.

  3. What’s funny with Russell is, if you needed a kick from the touchline to go over to win a match, I wouldn’t give the ball to anyone else. His confidence makes him ideally suited to pressure kicks. He just needs to start nailing the ones from the 15 yard line when the pressures off, and he’ll climb that % ladder in no time. Surely that’s attainable with solid coaching?

    It’s vital for Scotland to have more than one 80% kicker going forward. Would be huge for Russell’s career and those of our non-kicking scrumhalfs.

  4. One point from an outstanding Glasgow performance is if you told someone the score their expectation would be for Hogg to have played a stormer, but he was relatively quiet all game. This just shows the range of attacking options Glasgow are developing – really impressive.

    1. Hoggy is being kicked less ball and being marked out when he gets it. Good news is it creates space for others. This whole back line is pretty exceptional and none of them needs a licence to have a go. One of the most pleasing things to watch is the support and the lines they are running. They all know there is someone on their shoulder. Jones, Seymour and Pyrgos were outstanding at this.

  5. There were a few comments before the game about how the breakdown would go with Scarlets playing two 7s and Glasgow playing two 6s. Glasgow clearly won the turnover battle with Dunbar making a big impression in that regard. That blend seems to suit Glasgow if not Scotland.

    1. Glasgow’s breakdown work is excellent. Where Scarlets have individuals that go in, like Davies or Barclay, while the rest of the team stands back and applauds, Glasgow work in twos. One more mobile player, such as Dunbar, Favaro or Brown, latches onto the ball and then a big, less mobile player, like Gray or Fagerson, will latch onto the player going for the ball, creating one giant immovable object. The players clearing out just bounce right off. Harley is extra sneaky and latches on just in front of the guy going for the ball, meaning that opposition players have to wrestle him out of the way before they can get a clear shot at the player going for the ball, by which point it’s too late.

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