Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Glasgow 70-10 Zebre

Duncan Weir powers through a tackle - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography
Duncan Weir powers through a tackle - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

Given the snow and hail that was present in Glasgow throughout Friday, it was a real surprise to see this game kick off in glorious sunshine.

Gregor Townsend showed his sentimental side for the second successive season, giving regular season home farewells to Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Duncan Weir, Taqele Naiyaravoro and Glenn Bryce, as well as including Leone Nakarawa. The changes to the side seemed to knock the flow of the Glasgow side, and it was Zebre who had the better of the first 15 minutes, missing a long range penalty on 10 minutes. Then Nakarawa came to play. 

The Fijian picked up after some excellent Glasgow handling. Three would-be tacklers were dispatched like they didn’t exist. The roar from the Scotstoun faithful when the 2nd row touched down was incredible and Duncan Weir casually added the extras. Glasgow were up and running.

Zebre had very little to lose, and everything to gain by throwing the ball around. The Warriors also seemed keen to give the Italians hope, with a horrendous error at the restart when no one took the ball left Pat MacArthur with a 5m lineout pressure throw. The Zebre forwards got up well, stealing possession, and despite some excellent line speed and cover defence, the Italian side got their reward. Canna couldn’t get the extras, leaving it 7-5 to Glasgow.

At this stage of the season with a dry park, Glasgow’s expansive game usually starts to reap rewards. It was to be the case in this game as well. First on 23 minutes Adam Ashe crashed through 2 tacklers to dot down after a lovely offload from Grayson Hart. Weir added 2 but there was plenty more to come.

Glenn Bryce had looked lively in the first 30 minutes, and he was next to get his name on the scoreboard. The Edinburgh bound fullback showed some great gas to cross the line, from 35m out. Weir again with the easy 2.

The bonus point was secured by 34 minutes, Glasgow’s fastest bonus of the season. Another departing Warrior, Taqele Nairayavaro, was at his rampaging best in attack, bouncing a number of bodies out his path before touching down. Weir made it 28-5 to Glasgow, and the crowd were baying for blood at this stage.

The crowd only had to wait 2 more minutes before another try came their way. Bryce scored the points but this one was a real team effort, with lovely offloads from Nakarawa, including a ‘round the tackler, one handed flick’ effort that was just outrageous, and some great hands from the backs culminating in Bryce strolling over. Weir again knocked over the extras.

That should have been that for the half, but Zebre were not out yet. Some truly horrific defending from Glasgow, particularly Naiyaravoro, let the Italian side through to score their second try of the night. In a one sided affair like this one you can get away with errors like this but Taqele has continually shown a total inability to defend. The guy makes Tim Visser look secure…

HT Glasgow 35 – 10 Zebre

Unfortunately for the Italians, the Glaswegian charity ended on 39 minutes. Two minutes into the second period Nakarawa had his second try, with possibly the best one handed pick up of a ball you will ever see. It was exhibition stuff from the Fijian, with another try on 52 minutes, followed by an assist for Greg Peterson’s first Glasgow try. Weir kept up his 100% form, making it 56-10.

Ali Price then got in on the act, showing us why everyone around Scotstoun is very excited about his potential with a searing break straight from the restart. The young replacement 9 had enough pace to go the distance, and one can only imagine the quality if he can add some of Mike Blair’s game management to his skill set. Weir again added the extras to continue a metronomic kicking performance.

Nakarawa was everywhere, but his Fijian counterpart Jerry Yanuyanutawa had a brilliant game in the loose, rampaging about the park all evening. He was finally replaced on 67 minutes, having had in my opinion his best ever Warriors game. Gordon Reid was his replacement, ensuring that the level of ‘athlete’ on show did not diminish.

The last score of the night was indicative of the difference in quality between the 2 teams. More accurate offloading sent Mark Bennett clear, with the centre even managing not to trip up on the Scotstoun in goal area. He then sportingly popped the ball to Duncan Weir under the posts for the try.

A lovely gesture for the departing 10 and after knocking over the extras to take his personal haul to 25, the 24 year old was given a standing ovation by the Scotstoun crowd when replaced by Finn Russell. A lovely end to an evening filled with emotion.

Now to secure a home semi-final…

SRBlog Man of the Match: Leone Nakarawa was the sponsor’s choice, and there is no argument here. The big Fijian is just a remarkable talent and whatever big money French side he has joined has landed a cracker. On any other night Bryce, Weir or Yanuyanutawa could have got the nod, but this was Leone’s night..

Glasgow Warriors: G. Bryce, Naiyaravoro, Bennett, Dunbar, Lamont, Weir, Hart, Yanuyanutawa, MacArthur, Rae, Peterson, Nakarawa, Harley, Favaro, Ashe.
Replacements: Russell for Weir (74), Price for Hart (51), Reid for Yanuyanutawa (67), Fagerson for Rae (57), Wilson for Nakarawa (77). Not Used: Brown, Swinson, Seymour.
Zebre: Beyers, Toniolatti, Boni, Garcia, Van Zyl, Canna, Burgess, De Marchi, Fabiani, Chistolini, Geldenhuys, Bortolami, Caffini, Cristiano, Ruzza.
Replacements: Palazzani for Toniolatti (51), Bisegni for Garcia (14), Postiglioni for De Marchi (53), Coria Marchetti for Fabiani (70), Ceccarelli for Chistolini (47), van Schalkwyk for Caffini (41), Koegelenberg for Ruzza (57). Not Used: Haimona.

15 Responses

  1. I’m genuinely curious to know how many of the Glasgow boys who are off are going of their own accord and how many are being offloaded because they aren’t deemed good enough. Nakarawa is an obvious one that I’m sure GT would have wanted to stay but apart from Naiyaravoro, who seems totally unable to tackle, and will not be missed, how many of the others are going because they want to go or were asked to leave?

    1. I’d say its mostly just a case of looking at which players have already signed for a new club and which ones have been released.

      Both Bryce boys and Weir are talented players that aren’t in the first team and will get far more starts and chances to improve at Edinburgh.

      Mamukashvili, Yanuyanutawa, Mike Cusack, Gregor Hunter etc on the other hand have all been released with no club yet announced. They were all surplus to requirements and were probably asked to leave or didn’t have their contracts renewed. Naiyaravoro has been a huge let down and just doesn’t fit the Glasgow style of play – think Toonie will be glad to see the back of him.

      It was only a matter of time before Nakarawa followed Niko to one of the bigger clubs as he’s grown into a genuine star over the last few seasons. I only wonder how long Glasgow will be able to hang on to players like Hogg, Bennett, Russell etc as they continue to improve and win..

      1. I get the sentiment around Naiyarovoro, but if Glasgow could keep him he’d be staying for good reason. He’s scored nine tries this season. To put that in context DTH’s record is ten tries in a season, Evans’ best efforts was nine, Nico eight and Seymour seven. Taquele is a bit of a flat track bully and he does need to do a lot of work on defence and ball retention in the tackle. BUT in terms of raw try-scoring ability he is huge and has delivered. Remember this is only his second full season playing Union. If Toony had a couple of seasons to work with him I think he could become a superb player for Glasgow. Shame that we got him for such a brief period of time.

        Sarto is obviously a direct replacement and is a very good player in many respects. However, he is far from a prolific try scorer and we’ll soon find out if that is because he plays for Zebre and Italy, or because he is the Italian Lamont. Fingers crossed it’s the former and he looks lethal in a team that scores tries for fun.

      2. He’s scored 9 and given away double that, including both tries in this match – teams target him all the time and make breaks down our right flank at will. Against lesser opposition he’s effective but against better sides he’s a straight up liability (give me Jones any day of the week) – he’s made naff all improvement in a year and if we did improve him after two more he’d just head off anyway. He is unequivocally awful for Glasgow and we will be the better for him leaving. Bring on Sarto…

        Russell will stay at least until the next World Cup I think. Hogg may be convinced to give it the same after the whole Ulster dalliance a couple years ago and with a young kid, but I think Bennett may leave after next term as I think he is the most ambitious and Seymour may leave as he’s now in his late 20s. Essential that we retain enough of them at the end of next year, particularly if Toonie decides to coach elsewhere.

        With regards to the other leavers, think the downsizing was necessary. Too many guys not getting game time and if the Pro12 does restructure to avoid the International Window, a 50+ squad will be obsolete. Other than Nakarawa, none of the others are starters so the retention this season has been pretty impressive.

    2. Big T has just not set the heather alight here. I wish it was different as I sense he has never got out of the lower gears, yet.

      It is interesting point on the stats , and the facts are the facts. However the perception is different , for whatever reason.

      I recall very few of his tries , it just feels laboured and lethargic to me. what I do recall is he demolished the Scarletts and that he was no sooner here than he was talking of returning. The 2 year deal was never going to be fulfilled.

      DTH went hunting and could produce a try out of nothing, could change the game and motivate the side by his presence. At close quarters, he could get round them , and often through them. Big T is a bowling ball.

      DTH was a tackler and he was always on the injury list, so his seasons were short. For whatever reason DTH and TN feel like very difficult animals, one wholly committed the other full of potential.

      There is still time to leave on a high and I hope he plays a part a great end to the season.

  2. I see Sky are listing the Ulster v Ospreys game for next Saturday, with no listings for BBC Scotland or Alba – please someone confirm that we’ll be able to watch the Glasgow v Connaught game somehow, somewhere……………….

  3. A bit off topic but…. just seen on the grapevine that Jackson has signed for Quins next season, we knew he had to move on after Wasps signed Cipriani. Do Quins really need another fly-half? Will he get much game time there? I definitely thought Newcastle looked a better fit for him

    1. H’mm. Think Nick Evans is getting on a bit, 36 in the summer, so he should be fighting it out with Ben Botica for a start. If he is serious about being in contention to play for Scotland he needs to do more than be a bit part player in the Premiership. A good challenge for him. His first year at Wasps was blighted by injury, so another bite of the cherry at one of the bigger clubs. Hope he rises to the challenge.

    2. Also off topic but I heard Maitland is off to Saracens as he had a relegation clause. Nothing to confirm though.

  4. Botica leaving quins for france, so ruairidh should get plenty chance to have a crack at top spot

  5. Edinburgh finally clearing out deadwood from their squad, though it is a shame Alex Toolis is confirmed as leaving. Guess he doesn’t fancy another season as 4th
    choice lock – but what a fourth choice. Balance at Edinburgh between SQs/NSQs emerging talent/older heads looks pretty good. Whilst Solomons has failed to get Edinburgh into CC places again he has quietly gone about remoulding the squad into a competitive group that is finally serving Scotland’s needs again. Reckon he’s maybe hanging on for a season too many but if our new back line clicks next season we should have better chance of a top 6 finish. Need some tries and some more wins and big games to bring back the fans. I hope SRU is lining up a big name coach to replace him next May. Dave Rennie would do fine!

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