Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Glasgow Warriors 47-17 Newport Gwent Dragons

Nick Grigg with Lee Jones in support - pic: © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Glasgow Warriors stopped their run of defeats and kept alive their slim hopes of making the Pro12 play-offs with a resounding 7-try victory over a Newport team whose slip into decline seems to gather pace quicker than Stuart Hogg.

The visitors started brightly and took a 10-0 lead following a penalty from Angus O’Brien and a try by lock Rynard Landman, who managed to roll the tip of the ball onto the line.

Whatever Henry Pyrgos said to the other Warriors’ players as they waited for the TMO’s decision worked wonders, as from the 23rd minute to the 79th, the Warriors scored 47 unanswered points.

The Warriors claimed the restart, and when Mark Bennett put a perfectly weighted grubber kick through, the retreating Dragons were forced over their own line to concede a 5m scrum. Take one: Pyrgos to Horne to Grigg, who bullied his way over the line, only to be held up. Take two: the same trio combined, but this time Grigg was able to get the ball down and reduce the deficit.

Less than ten minutes later, the diminutive centre then put the home side in the lead with a tremendous solo score. Spotting a gap between tight-head Brok Harris and earlier try-scorer Landman, he raced away, side-stepped full-back Tom Pyrdie and put the Warriors in the lead.

Half-time: Glasgow 14-10 Dragons

The second half must have had Newport head coach Kingsley Jones pulling what’s left of his hair out in absolute despair, as time and time again, the Warriors were able to either find gaps or simply burst through. (For those who like their stats, Newport completed 131 tackles, but missed 31.)

Next over the try-line was Rory Hughes, who cut a nicely angled line through the middle to take the ball at pace, and the big winger powered through at least three attempts at tackles before going over. Prior to this, the Castlemilk man, with his left knee heavily strapped, had looked in a bit of bother, and this was to be his last involvement.

The dominance continued, and with Glasgow just a few metres short of the line on the right a cross-kick from Horne gave home debutant Ratu Tagive the simple task of catching the ball in acres of space and touching down on the left. Horne, whose distribution and variation of pass throughout was exceptional, to the point it was like having two scrum-halves on the pitch, inexplicably missed the conversion, but that was the only blot on an otherwise tremendous display from the Scotland star still getting back to match sharpness.

Lee Jones then pirouetted through to celebrate his new contract with a try, Mark Bennett – who was a constant threat throughout – then motored through more lacklustre defending to add more gloss to the scoreline. Peter Horne, who had moved back to his more natural position of inside centre with the introduction of Brandon Thomson, took a simple inside pass from the South African fly-half, to add 5 points to his own personal tally.

Newport scored a last-minute consolation try through Tyler Morgan following some kamikaze passing from the home side, but it still meant a remarkably easy bonus-point win for the men in black. Hughes’ injury and another stretchering-off for cult hero Richie Vernon were the only downsides to a dominant Glasgow display.

Credit must also be given to Brian Alainu’uese, who once again thundered his way through all that stood before him.

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)

Attendance: 7,067 (allegedly)

SRBlog Man of the Match: Sponsor’s MOTM went to Big Brian Alai… right I’m just calling him Big Brido from now on, but I’m going to give it to Peter Horne. I’ve said before I prefer him at centre, even to the man himself, but he passed exquisitely off either hand, which really kept Newport guessing, and let Bennett and Grigg cut right through a hapless Dragons’ defence.

28 Responses

  1. I wonder if the Scottish coaches wanted to look at Horne one more time at FH with Twickenham in mind? IMO and if match fit he is our current No 2

    1. I wondered this too. The fact remains that Russell will play 80 unless injured, so Weir on the bench is solely a contingency plan. Having Horne at 22 instead gives us tactical options as well as injury cover for 10.

      Depending on how the match is going we could bring on Horne at inside centre to play outisde Russell as a secondary playmaker. I’d then having Maitland as 23 to cover FB and wing. Visser has earned another start.

      1. I agree. Horne has the long shadow of one missed touch against Italy hanging over him. He had played well in that game and seems to have the skillset to get the most out of the back line if called on due to injury or even Finn having an off day. I might be a bit of a fan on the basis of liking the old days when rugby players came in all shapes and sizes, not just 15 flankers.

  2. Interesting home crowd stats from the Pro 12 games this season. Glasgow average 7255 per match with very little difference between their highest and lowest gates (7351 v 7166).
    Edinburgh average 5771 but there is a massive difference between highest -presumably the festive derby- and lowest gates (21036 v 2750). Indeed 45% of the total number of supporters were at one match.
    Over a season the greater revenue will only exascerbate the differences in quality between the clubs. For Glasgow growing the capacity at the stadium will be a priority to accommodate 10,000+ crowds and compete against the teams at the top of the Pro 12 who have significantly higher home attendance figures.
    For Edinburgh the challenge is more complex, building a successful winning team to stop the inexorable fall in attendance figures, while completing the transition to Myreside together with the identification of it as their home ground.

  3. Only caught a bit of it but Horne certainly made his case for warming a bench at Twickenham. Who do you drop for him though, Weir or Bennett? Do we need Weir’s safe pair of hands territorial type game and kicking? Bennett isn’t in great form although he did fine in this match and can change a game in the blink of an eye.

  4. Just thought I’d redress the balance after moaning about Grigg last week. He could neither catch a ball nor pass last week, but a different and much improved player this week.
    He needs a bit of consistency now.
    Also good to see Mark Bennett showing a bit of much delayed form. He looked very quick when he found a yard of space, and his hand off of the Dragons back rowers illustrated the work he’s been putting in in the gymn.
    I’d love to see Big Brian sign up for next year, but he was a short term signing and he probably has other committments.
    A big hearted player though, and the kind of big runner that we’re always short of.
    If Peterson and Uanive (sp?) had been fit it would make a difference during the internationals.

    1. Grigg has been a standout player for Glasgow over the international break along with Brian and Cummings. He was invited to train with the Scotland squad before the 6N, and I think he’ll go on the Australian tour this summer. Yet another addition to our centre stocks.

  5. No mention of Brandon Thomson who looks a very a good player. Can anyone remember his deal or is he temp 6N cover?

    1. Temp cover… and apparently on a relatively long contract at the Stormers….

      Not sure the Clegg savings will cover it unless the Stormers dont want/need him..

      Good wee player though, been impressed also!

  6. Much more like it from Glasgow on Saturday, although Dragons were pretty dire.

    Thought the midfield did very well – Horne and Bennett looked sharp, and Grigg belies his stature with the way he hits the gainline.

    What a shame for Richie Vernon though – I hope it is not a serious injury, and the same to Hughes as well.

    I was impressed with how both sides tried to play rugby right to the end. The clock was well into the 82nd minute when Glasgow played hot potato and gifted Dragons their second score, but both sides had chances to knock the ball out and hit the showers. I think this is a reflection on the positive mindset the Pro12 seems to produce.

    Can Glasgow make the play offs? Yes, but….. If they were 5th with one team to overhaul I’d back them. With two teams to chase down, and Ulster with a game in hand it’s much, much tougher. Still “In Toonie We Trust”

  7. I think Pete Horne would be a good option off the bench against England. He’s a better FH option that Weir and can cover centre if needed.

    Good to see Bennett get a bit of his old form back, and he may actually justify being on the bench ahead of Matt Scott now.

  8. I agree you play Russell for 80 God willing, but our real issues are the bench and back row cover. I will take a punt now and predict Denton will get a spot and Swinson too.

    1. Didn’t see enough of the Glasgow game to make a personal judgment of Horne. By all accounts he did well. He’s a better player than Weir and surely by now most will have forgiven if not forgotten the infamous missed touch v Italy two years ago – statute of limitations and all that. Also, Horne can do things in quick time and at pace that take the oppo by surprise – e.g. our first try in the 2015 RWC QF. And he can in extremis cover centre, possibly FB too. If he’s assessed as Test match fit by Vern, then why wouldn’t we want to feature someone from the bench with the pace, know how and skill to keep the England defence guessing? We’re going to need plenty of X Factor at Twickenham this Saturday.
      Also, can’t see where Swinson has put a foot wrong as lock and back row cover so far this 6N. Why would we bin him for others whose Test match form is either 18 months old or non-existent to this point?
      A great match in prospect at the weekend, and it’s really interesting that the prevailing tone amongst sensible England fans on their forums is one of apprehension. When was the last time that happened in the run up to a Calcutta Cup?
      Get in there, Scotland. Can’t wait!

      1. Horne was good, definitely a step up from the previous couple of games. Agree about Swinson, bench for sure, who else does BVC pick for bench to cover 2nd row, back row?

      2. Horne exorcised the ghosts of that kick vs Italy by running the show in the victory over France last season.

  9. if Laidlaw was in then having Horne on the bench ahead of Weir is a no-brainer. But no Laidlaw, Russell or Weir and who kicks for goal? Hogg can place kick and belt goal kicks from distance but is he good enough with the closer ones? I get the feeling the coaches don’t fancy it.

    1. Horne is a very capable goal kicker, Pyrgos is good too. Both would kick over Hogg

  10. Pressure is going to be paralyzingly for England says Hines.

    You don’t want to be part of the team that blows it.

    Good reposte to Jones.

    Think that’s got to be worth an article Scottish rugby blog?

    1. Feeding Eddie Jones’ ego can be left to the English broadsheets – this blog doesn’t have to :0)

  11. How about a ‘new idea’ for Scottish Rugby?

    We are simply not good enough, let’s face facts here! I want us to be targeting our biggest ever scalp against the likes of New Zealand?

    Why don’t we enable all of our current stock to play abroad in leagues such as the Premiership, Top 14 or Super Rugby and then enter two teams every year in the European competitions? This could mean the following ;

    a) Players have a better understanding of the international game.

    b) Guys can learn from the best in the world.

    c) Reduced cost due to pro teams not being full time in the Pro12


    Think about it the likes of Alex Dunbar getting experience for the Crusaders in NZ or Huw Jones playing for Toulon? It’s not as crazy as it sounds…

    1. Allan, Scotland are currently sitting 5th in the world rankings. This suggests that we are good enough, or getting very close to it.

      Argentina followed the basic premise behind your proposal for several years, sending all their players abroad and eschewing any pro teams of their own. They have now changed their position, and created the Jaguares team to play in Super Rugby and feed into the national side. It didn’t work for them and won’t work for us.

      The flaws are as follows:
      1. Where do you get your 2 teams for European competition from if all your players are employed by clubs with no interest in Scottish Rugby? And how do these teams go about qualifying for Europe if not via the Pro12?

      2. The Pro12 has a considerable number of world class players, for example Ruan Pienaar at Ulster. Scottish players get to test themselves in a very competitive league.

      3. How do you protect your players from being overplayed? In England the PRL have an agreement with the RFU to look after the players in the English Elite squad. The club so sign non-English players to cover international periods, and players are used accordingly. So Sean Maitland has to play for Saracens in a week when all the England players get rested – and gets injured and misses the Wales game. It’s not viable.

      There is some mileage in allowing certain players to move abroad. If you have a lot of competition for a particular place then having 1 or 2 players out of your control is not an issue. Another example would be the high-earning project player who has been capped – Strauss is the perfect example – who can be released to free up finance and playing opportunities for the next wave of players.

    2. To add to Ade’s comment. Of the 8 quarter finalists in the Champions Cup, 3 are from Pro 12, two of whom topped their group, and almost as tellingly none qualified from the group with Zebre.

      Hardly suggests that Pro 12 is a poor league. Yes, there are some poor sides, but the quality at the top is excellent.

  12. Seen a lot of people shouting for Denton to get a start. That would be very foolish IMO. I am admittedly biased in that I have never rated Denton, other than a couple of admittedly outstanding performances in the past he just reminds me of the dark old days, one dimensional, poor handling skills and is prone to going missing.

    Everyone’s getting their knickers in a twist about Billy V possibly playing for England. I think this is a bad attitude. I have said before the only way we will beat England is if we go there, play our game to the best of our ability and hope it is good enough. Attempting to counter England’s strengths will result in a humping, we are not going to out muscle them. By all means give him the respect he is due, but trying to “out globogym” the globogym will not work.

  13. Not to start, but bench. Who else? and this is not to counter BV. Denton can raise his game and has a good 30 mins in him. Plays well against England

    1. A good 30 mins leaves someone else to carry the can for the previous 50. He’s looked out of shape and off the pace since coming back for Bath. He ballsed up a walk-in last weekend and is not what we need coming off the bench against England. I’d rather DuPreez or bradbury were on the bench. They may be playing in a team with no confidence but there’s more to their games than Dentons and they are fit, unlike Denton. I suspect a call up for them may just bring the best out of whoever gets the call.

  14. Well Al it’s the coaches call, guess we disagree on Denton but if he’s not match fit Bath would not play him for sure. I like Bradbury a lot but Vern seems unsure

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion