Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Leicester 0-43 Glasgow

Finn Russell
Finn Russell in action - pic © Alastair Ross | Novantae Photography

After last week’s disappointment at the hands of Munster, it truly was last chance saloon for delivering the Champions Cup quarter final place that has eluded Glasgow until this point in their relatively short history. Leicester on the other hand had not lost to Scottish opposition since the early 1900s.

With this in mind Gregor Townsend’s patented ‘Toony tombola’ was placed firmly aside, and the same 15 who started last week given the nod once more. Henry Pyrgos returned from injury to add some experience to the bench alongside Chris Fusaro and Peter Murchie.

Many Warriors fans had made the sizeable journey to support their side, with blue flags prominently displayed in all areas of the stadium, but any nerves that they or the players had were banished within 5 minutes of kick off. Glasgow controlled the ball right from the off, and went through a frankly ridiculous 27 phases of power, pace and control before Tommy Seymour found some soft shoulders in defence to bump 2 defenders and score with a contortionist’s move under the posts. With an easy extra 2 points added by Finn Russell, the Warriors could not have dreamt up such a perfect start.

Glasgow continued to dominate possession, with 79% in the first 20 minutes and Russell added 3 more points from a penalty, before missing a long distance effort bang on the 20 minute mark. This was not going to be a miss that would be punished. From the resulting clearance, Glasgow came at the Leicester defence once more. A clever chip through saw Lee Jones impeded very cynically by Matthew Tait, and so off went the full back for 10 minutes on the naughty step.

Glasgow put the ball into the corner, set up the maul and rumbled through their opposition, resulting in Mathieu Raynal awarding a penalty try. Domination by a Scottish pack in the heartland of English forward play really did taste sweet, although possibly not to the Welford Road faithful who were becoming less faithful by the minute. Russell added the extras.

Leicester finally got some ball, and with it came 2 penalty attempts of their own. Freddie Burns reminded everyone why he isn’t currently near the England international setup with a poor miss, quickly followed by an absolute howler from right in front of the sticks. The crowd could not believe what they had just seen, and the error was further compounded when Glasgow came right back up the park, with superb hands in particular from Swinson and Fagerson, to create an overlap on the far left. Lee Jones masterfully drew in the defence before putting it to Ryan Wilson who popped it to Mark Bennett who dived over to finish the move, capping an all action phase of play. Glasgow were just sublime to watch for this first half hour, arguably better than even the Munster Pro 12 final. Russell added 2 more to make it 24-0 and 3 tries.

Jonny Gray had not needed to be as busy as usual in defence, with the big lock only making 4 tackles all game (of the 62 in total made by the team) but he was outstanding in attack, carrying well and performing that ‘pivot’ role that is vital to creating space for the Warriors flyers out wide. Therefore it was no surprise that it was the captain who brought up the try bonus, with the benefit of another thunderous maul from the Glasgow pack. Another successful conversion and Warriors headed in to half time with a 31 point lead.

It was almost unreal.

Half-time: Leicester 0-31 Glasgow

Any chance of a Tigers fightback was well and truly quashed after just 8 minutes of the second half.

His second penalty miss of the night on 42 minutes did not stop Scotland 10 Russell playing a starring role in the next try, with a lovely set play from the scrum sending Ryan Wilson over for a try that capped an excellent performance.

Russell found his shooting boots for this one and sent the ball cleanly through the uprights.

The substitutes started arriving for both sides, with Pyrgos, Fusaro and Pat MacArthur making an appearance before possibly the try of the night arrived. Like Wilson, Tim Swinson has been in the form of his life recently, and was at his best again here with a superb game. He was helped over the line by two of his forward colleagues, showing no mercy to the Tigers who looked like they would have called the game there and then if they could have.

Indeed, a large swathe of their support did exactly that, deciding to miss the traffic rather than put up with any more from their side. Sad times for a famous old club.

Russell missed the conversions but at 43-0 with 20 minutes to play it was forgivable.

This marked the point where Glasgow finally took their foot off the throat of their opponent, with both teams happy to close out and get to the dressing room with no further damage.

There was time for Ellis Genge to get sin binned for a third penalty conceded in the red zone, but the cries of ‘We Want 50’ from the Warriors support were not to be met.

On the full time whistle the management team, replacements and squad rushed onto the field to celebrate. First time quarter finalists, and done in some style from the first Scottish side to win at Welford Road in 119 years. The stats told the story, with 467 metres made to Leicester’s 130, 15 defenders beaten and a solid 150 gain line carries.

Saracens will not take Glasgow lightly in March at the Allianz when the Warrior Nation go travelling.

FT Leicester 0 – 43 Glasgow

SRBlog Man of the Match: Tim Swinson made it consecutive man of the match awards from the sponsors, and there will be no complaints from me regarding this. The lock was incredible, and has perhaps even played himself into the reckoning for a start against Ireland. Other mentions go to Tommy Seymour, who was busy all night, Jonny Gray who led from the front on every carry, and Josh Strauss, who skittled Leicester tacklers at will. To be honest though any Warrior could have got the award. An incredible finish to the group and a timely reminder to all of Scotland’s opponents in the 6 Nations – there is some ‘real deal’ talent in Scotland now.

Leicester Tigers: M Tait; A Thompstone, P Betham, J Roberts, T Brady, F Burns, B Youngs; G Bateman, T Youngs (capt), D Cole, E Slater, M Fitzgerald, M Williams, L McCaffrey, L Hamilton.
Replacements: H Thacker (for T Youngs, 63), E Genge (for Bateman, 50), P Cilliers (for Cole, 67), D Barrow (for Fitzgerald, 62), W Evans (for McCaffrey, 75), S Harrison (for B Youngs, 50), G Worth, M Smith (for Betham, 65).
Yellow cards: Mathew Tait (21), Ellis Genge (79)
Glasgow Warriors: S Hogg; T Seymour, M Bennett, A Dunbar, L Jones, F Russell, A Price; G Reid, F Brown, Z Fagerson, T Swinson, J Gray (capt), R Harley, R Wilson, J Strauss.
Replacements: P MacArthur (for Brown, 59), A Allan (for Reid, 64), D Rae (for Fagerson, 64), B Alainu’uese (for Swinson, 70), C Fusaro (for Strauss, 56), H Pyrgos (for Price, 56), N Grigg (for Dunbar, 64), P Murchie (for Hogg, 70).

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)

36 Responses

  1. I was thinking last night, after Glasgow’s great victory, that Scottish rugby as a whole owes Jim Telfer a huge thank you for his vision in creating Scottish professional teams. The gestation-period has been a long one and when our embryonic teams were regularly suffering hammerings Telfer was often vilified. I read today that Gregor Townsend referred to the turnaround in Glasgow’s changed fortunes regarding last night’s opponents, from a crushing 60-point defeat to Saturday’s 43-0 victory. Without Telfer’s vision, our national team would be nowhere on the world stage today. The two professional teams are essential to its success.
    The Warrior Nation’s support has been magnificent. Let’s see if Edinburgh fans can now match that with consistent 5,000+ crowds at Myreside

    1. Telfer was and remains a Scottish rugby hero. Like you, I’d love to see Myreside packed for every home game. If I still lived there, I’d be one of those 5k plus.

  2. Alexander Coldwell – agree 100%, but (there’s always a but) a 3rd pro team is the perfect solution.

    The Glasgow model is a tremendous success & it has taken time, Edinburgh are way behind. (Myreside is too wee)

    1. Unless the SRU can suddenly magic up an extra five million a year in revenue there’s not gonna be a third pro team any time soon. Glasgow are well on the way to being an almost cost neutral club but not until they get attendances comparable to the bigger Irish sides. Until then, the SRU will be the bankroll.

  3. If Moray Low’s days are over then who do we call up if one or more of Zander/Welsh/Berghan gets injured? Murray McAllum or Darcy Rae?..

  4. Looking at the new rules for home advantage in the semi-finals of the Champions Cup, if Glasgow beat Saracens they are guaranteed a home semi-final. Quite an incentive (if that were needed), especially given the final will be at Murrayfield…

    1. To clarify, it appears that a ‘home’ semi means a ‘home country’ semi. I.e. If Glasgow win, they would play in Scotland, but not at Scotstoun.

      1. Rugby Park would be their best bet you’d think… eyebrows would be raised with the finals at BT Murrayfield if they tried to take the semi there too… what about one of the big Glasgow football stadiums?

      2. Rugby park makes sense, given the previous win over Racing there, and the playing surface could be an advantage. Wherever it is, it’s important that it’s: a) full; b) an intense atmosphere.

        Getting ahead of ourselves a little bit, though!

  5. Wouldn’t Hampden Park make more sense than Rugby Park.
    Yes it’s a 50,000 capacity, but there doesn’t appear to be any Glasgow stadiums of the 20-30,000 capacity which are a safer bet.
    If Glasgow reduced the ticket prices to pack them in at Hampden it could work?!

    1. They probably could sell out Hampden for a European semi-final but it would be full of Munster fans. Toulouse on the other hand wouldn’t bring more than a couple of hundred travelling fans. It’s all moot unless we can beat the best team in Europe away first. Bring em on!

      1. I would think that Rugby Park would be the best option. The surface would allow for decent rugby, and the atmosphere seems to be good too. Hampden would be a poor decision as the atmosphere is pretty poor. The only worry would be that Rugby Park is maybe on the small side, so may be worthwhile considering Ibrox

      2. I thought Ibrox was a 55,000 capacity and Parkhead was 67,500 (same size as Murrayfield.)
        What capacity is Firhill these days? Are there other Glasgow options?

  6. Guys, we’re getting waaaaaay over excited here. Leicester and Racing are both having lack lustre seasons and Glasgow couldn’t topple Munster at home.

    Tremendous progress has been made at Scotstoun and they’re definitely moving in the right direction but we really need to keep the players honest, any hint of complacency and they’re stuffed for last 8.

    Glasgow sent a big warning message to the rest of the knockout teams. Sarries are bursting with talent and a very clever coaching set up who will make the most of any weakness. The playing surface at Scotstoun will suit them also (visa-versa).

    We now need to see commercial investment to reinforce Townsend’s great work and growing fan base.

    I live in London and rugby fans here still don’t recognise Glasgow as a threat despite recent results. Hopefully that will change.

    1. Yes, never mind the semi-final venue speculation for the time being. For my brother and me, both south east England based expatriates like yourself, our immediate priority is how the hell we get our hands on tickets for the QF at the Allianz!
      Agree with Mac2 though – exciting times for clubs and country right now. England-based/-oriented media rugby pundits and journos are still in shock after the Leicester result. Could have sworn I was reading an obituary column instead of a match report in The Times this morning.

    2. Nicholas : Glasgow lost to Munster ,were down to 14 for the last 10 and were a drop goal away , so I would say after losing 38 -17, that is progress.

      The biggest differentiator for me is who will be available after the 6N for both sides.

      I hear Saracens want the game to be a Allianz park which has limited capacity, so the big question is how will the tickets be distributed ?

      What is the Corporate Hospitality like there? Hopefully lightweight, but I cannot see it.

  7. Fair enough Nic – but excitement has been in short supply for several years, if we can’t get excited about thrashing the former heavyweights of English rugby, on their home patch, by a starting 15 of all scots-qualified players, scoring 6 tries to zip, ‘nilling’ them on the scoreboard, in the Hemisphere’s premier competition whilst ensuring qualification for the quarter finals for the first time – well you can complete the rest of this sentence.
    Seriously it felt that this was a massive weekend on the road towards true competitiveness for the Scottish Pro teams, no reason for Edinburgh not to get to the semi-final at least, (Gloucester away in the semi could be the end of the road) & after Saturday who knows re Glasgow’s progress, beat Sarries and it would be home semi & final…..we’re allowed to dream………

  8. Took my boys, aged 5 and 8, on the short trip from Nottingham to Leicester for their first Glasgow game. We had all the usual excited pre-game chat about Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour and Finn Russell and how they would play. Took our seats in the Holland & Barrett stand, amazed at how many Glasgow fans were in attendance.

    Then the game starts – and it all goes into dreamtime…. I had found it so hard to explain to the boys the magnitude of the performance. The oldest got it when we discussed Leicester only having lost once in the last 33 European games. It was astonishing to watch, and when Bennett went over for the 3rd score you could sense the life being sucked out of the stand. Chatting to a few Tigers fans at half time and they were highly complimentary of how Glasgow were playing, and couldn’t see anyway back for their team in the second half.

    As it was, large numbers of them began to leave as early as when Wilson went over, and by the time we left with 5 to go there were whole rows empty around us. That for me sums up how good this was by Glasgow – not only did they get 6 tries, and nil their opponents, but it was so ruthless, so effective, that it had the home crowd walking out in droves.

    The boys loved it, I loved it, and now we’re just waiting for the dates of the QF to see if we can get a trip down to Allianz park!

      1. I’d double booked myself and was supposed to be sitting down for dinner at 8 in Nottingham. Had to go early to get out of Leicester as it is a busy place on a Saturday evening. I was gutted to leave though – next time I’m paying more attention to my diary!

  9. I was also at the game. I had seen Leicester the week before at Wasps and to be honest they looked pretty poor then although they managed to rally in the second half. At one stage it looked as if Wasps we’re going to score 6 tries and nil them. Glasgow were much better than Wasps though and after watching the game on YouTube on Sunday I think they actually left a few points on the park. I suspect Toony will be frustrated by some of the line outs (especially on McArthurs throw). Whilst everyone was terrific on the night I thought Lee Jones was absolutely superb. Dealt with all restarts well, assist on JG’s try as well as Bennet’s and showed invention and threat on the wing! Really pleased for him.

      1. He was superb. The Bennett try for me was an indication of how far Scottish players have come. For years we watched Scottish teams butcher opportunities like that. This time Jones had the clarity to step back inside to make the space. Must be next in line should we get any injuries to wingers.

        I also think Swinson is in with a great shout of starting against Ireland – he has been brilliant this season for Glasgow and plays with J Gray every week. Granted I dont know how R Gray has been playing and we may need the extra bulk in the scrum without the first choice props.

        Not wishing to get ahead of things as away to saracens is the hardest draw we could have got, but i do think to continue the momentum any semi needs to be in Glasgow, somewhere. I was astounded by the number of people in the Crafty Pig for the game on Saturday evening – i know it is the official supporters’ pub but it was packed. Great to see.

    1. Nice to see Lee Jones get some plaudits. I think he is Glasgow’s most under-estimated player and hugely improved from the one who left Edinburgh. I was surprised after the Racing game he didn’t get more of a mention for his defence up against Joe Rokocoko.

    2. For me Lee Jones would offer far more to Scotland than Maitland and Visser do.
      Anybody know what contract he has left at Glasgow.

  10. Great feeling to be entering the six nations on though. From both teams. And with an axe to grind against the Irish, at home. Let’s hope its free flowing rugby!

  11. I wonder of the QF gives much of a cash bonus for progression? Would be helpful for Glasgow to hang on to their prized assets nd Edinburgh to get a coach who isn’t out if the bargain bin.

  12. Lee Jones and Alex Allan, just two of the Scottish qualified players jettisoned by the late Solomons (. . . Girth was another) who Townsend had the vision to get back on track.
    Is the QF definitely to be played at Allianz? Their site suggests only 10,000 capacity!

    1. Sarries website says they expect to get permission to temporarily expand to 15k for the match. Which would help – up to a point. I think they are very keen to be on their home ground.

      1. Sarries have played at Wembley before. I suspect that would not suit us either , too big for 5k fans to make an impact.

  13. I think Glasgow could bring at least 5,000 so it might not feel like their own ground. Anyone based in the south / London should try and get there. Atmosphere at Whelford road was absolutely fantastic.

  14. Glad to hear Lee Jones getting the credit he deserves, here and down south. Bizarre that Leicester sent all their kick offs (they had a lot of kickoffs…) to him, he handled them all with ease. I thought he’d be starting winger this year, he must have been gutted to find himself behind Sarto and Hughes, but he’s handled it exactly the right way and taken his chance when it came. Agree should be next up if there’s a space in the Scotland squad.

    1. Wing is an area of relative strength. Seymour being the standout, but with Maitland, Visser, Hoyland, Hughes & Jones all able and offering something different its a nice problem to have. Personally I would like to see Jones really come to the fore over the next month or so when the internationals are away and be one of the back leaders. If he does that then I think you can start making a case for him usurping Visser or Hoyland as the 3rd/4th choice winger. He is certainly putting his hand up

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion