Racing could not have been more obvious in their game plan in coming over to Scotstoun. A pack weighing in at 952kg – an increase on 70 odd kilos from last week. Even Ronan O’Gara confirmed as much pre-match – “We need to be a bit more North-South” highlighting the French desire to straighten up and grind the Scotstoun side into submission.
Gregor Townsend also commented that he believed this was the biggest ever pack a team coached by him had faced. A simple plan, playing to the traditional ‘French’ strengths of the Racing globetrotters, but what happens if Glasgow match up to the supposed area of strength?
Well the simple answer to that quandary is that Glasgow then proceeded to blow away their opposition, similar to the Leicester game.
Just 5 minutes in a sublime chip through on halfway, over the onrushing Racing defence, from Finn Russell was well picked up by Seymour who went most of the way to the Racing line. He managed the pass inside to Hogg who was caught as well, but again the support play was outstanding and Josh Strauss, on his 100th Warriors cap, barged over to give the Scotstoun crowd an early Christmas gift. Russell missed the extras but the Racing defence would be very concerned with how easy it was for Glasgow to slice them open.
Especially as it kept happening.
The game was all Glasgow in the opening period, with the usual suspects carrying hard, making breaks and generally outplaying their illustrious opponents. Russell, like last week, was at the heart of everything, and it was the Scotland 10 who got an assist for try number 2.
Much is often made of Peter Horne’s passing game, but Russell I would argue is just as good, evidenced by the way he was hurling the ball around with control and accuracy. He found Fraser Brown in space about 10m out, and the hooker did the rest, bouncing through three Racing tacklers to down. Russell added the extras, and with 15 minutes gone Glasgow had a 12-point lead.
Racing eventually got some ball, but Glasgow were forcing them into errors, particularly in the red zone. In the first half alone I counted 3 key errors coming from good defensive play by the home side that cost Racing near certain tries.
Russell continued to keep the scoreboard moving, punishing indiscipline from the French as well as deploying his full range of smart kicking tricks, ensuring Glasgow played their rugby in the right areas. Two further penalties stretched the Glasgow advantage to 18, and the Scotstoun crowd could barely believe the ease at which this advantage was achieved. Massive plaudits for an incredible effort by the pack who dominated the scrum and maul areas, totally nullifying the Racing strengths going into the game.
HT Glasgow 18 – 0 Racing
The second half kicked off with the Racing game plan firmly consigned to the bin after the battering it took in the 1st half.
A hefty batch of front row subs took the field immediately, but Glasgow calmly continued with their business undeterred.
It was no surprise when Ali Price scored Glasgow’s third try, again created by a darting run from Russell. Price beat two defenders, showing a bit of power in that scrum half’s build to get his score. Russell again missed the extras, but it was 23 – 0 and Glasgow were one try away from the bonus point.
To this point (and actually in both games against Racing) I have not mentioned the referees. George Clancy was absolutely excellent, as was JP Doyle last time out. This will come as quite the surprise as I have on many occasions questioned Clancy’s competence, but credit where it is due – he did a good job.
Racing continued to prod at the Glasgow defence, but the Scots seemed very comfortable, even when scrambling on the 5 metre line.
When Dan Carter departed after 60mins with zero carries (and therefore also zero metres gained, defenders beaten and line breaks), it was clear that the game was up.
Racing finally managed a try of their own on 79 minutes, but really the only relief for the Parisians is that they denied Glasgow the four try bonus, which could yet play a part in this very close group. Had you offered any Glasgow fan 8 points from the Racing double header just a couple of weeks ago, they would have offered up their granny in return for your generosity!
Glasgow finally have a platform to get out of the Champions Cup group stages for the first time. Trips to Welford Road, and a return leg against old foes Munster is looking very tasty indeed.
FT Glasgow 23 – 7 Racing 92
SR Blog Man of the Match: As per last week, you could pretty much pick a Warrior out of a hat and be not far off. Tighthead Zander Fagerson’s reputation will have escalated significantly after these 2 games, the usual core of Hogg, Seymour, Gray, Wilson and Strauss had massive games, but my Man of the Match is of course Finn Russell. The Bandaged One has been electric in these 2 games, playing Carter off the pitch (literally) and looking more composed, calm and creative than ever. This is a young man who I believe typifies all that is good about our current young crop of internationals, not scared to make mistakes, not scared to enjoy their beloved game of rugby. He plays the game with a smile on his face, and he (and his Warriors teammates) certainly brought a smile to mine.