Scottish Rugby Blog

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Cardiff Blues 19-20 Glasgow Warriors

Cardiff v Glasgow
© Scottish Rugby Blog

The Warriors scraped to a 1-point victory, courtesy of some Finn magic, Callum “Billy Ray” Gibbins acting like a mulleted superhero, and a last-gasp penalty miss from could-have-been Scottish-if the WRU hadn’t whined about it Cardiff fly-half Steven Shingler (who I reckon looks a wee bit like Andy Murray.)

Glasgow started the game on the front-foot, dominating territory and possession until one George Turner overthrow gave Cardiff a chance to clear their lines. Once the lines had been cleared and field position gained from a hoof into touch around 30m from the Glasgow try-line, another overthrow from Turner gave Cardiff midfield ball, which Tom James took full advantage of, stepping round a lacklustre tackle from Alex Dunbar to score with Cardiff’s first real attack of note.

Referee Frank Murphy had an interesting game. The commentary team at S4C certainly found his  policing of the breakdown debatable, but seemed blinded to Cardiff’s repeated failure to get onside and out of the road, and when he blew his whistle at the scrum, his arm went up in Cardiff’s favour and Shingler put Cardiff into double figures.

Finn Russell reduced the deficit with a penalty, after a great steal from Gibbins and a kick from Seymour had once again put Glasgow deep into Cardiff’s half, but Glasgow were far from their fluent best and struggling at the set-piece.

After Cardiff Number 8 Nick Williams was controversially penalised at the break-down, Finn kicked to within 10m of the line, but Turner, who performed well enough in the loose, once again chucked his arrow too high and far, into the gratefully waiting arms of Josh Navidi.

Cardiff took another 3 points from the boot of Shingler, after Henry Pyrgos was penalised for being offside when more ambitious play from Glasgow starting deep within their own 22 went awry. In all, it was not Pyrgos’ finest hour and a bit in a Warriors shirt. With Price seemingly established as the first choice scrum-half, and with Niko and George Horne waiting in the wings, the former co-captain will have to improve on this showing.

For all the Warriors’ slackness, they finally showed a bit of the good stuff to pull themselves back into contention. Gibbins made an initial break through the middle, and although Cardiff managed to push Glasgow into touch, their clearing kick was returned by Jackson, who found Lee Jones. The winger wriggled through the challenges, and with men over on the blind-side, some nice soft hands from the big lads allowed Pyrgos the chance to redeem himself slightly with a try.

Half-time: Cardiff Blues 13 -10 Glasgow Warriors

The return of the players after half-time also saw the return of the sideways rain which had made the Connacht contest such an attritional affair, and it also saw the return of one Niko Matawalu, brought on to replace Tommy Seymour out on the wing.

Within a minute, the mistakes returned too. Crossing by a combination of Scott Cummings and more blatantly Finn Russell gave Shingler an easy 3 points.

Finn was having a typically Finn-esque game, sometimes intelligent, inventive and glorious, some of it a bit “sheesh, what you doing?”, but would we really want it any other way?

Luckily there was more of the former to come. Cardiff claimed the restart, Lloyd Williams box-kicked down the left touchline and Russell rose way above the much larger Alex Cuthbert to pluck the ball from the sky, evade the tackle of Damian Welch and wait for Lee Jones to appear off his shoulder. Try Glasgow, and into the lead for the first time at 17-16.

Shingler’s fourth penalty put the Blues back in front, then we had the unfortunate sight of Alex Dunbar having to leave the field injured once again.

Both sides continued to have some individually impressive bits of play, but there was a real lack of cohesion, and ultimately skill all round. Niko had a charge or two, but then he’d knock-on. Cardiff full-back Rhun Williams would try to respond in kind, then within a phase or five, the ball would be dropped.

Glasgow’s first victory in the scrum happened with only 15mins left to play, Russell knocked over the penalty and Glasgow had the lead, albeit by a single point. But the real headline was to be left for his opposite number.

As Cardiff pressurised, the Glasgow scrum again fell foul to the whistle of Murphy, this time penalised for wheeling. Shingler stepped up, fairly central position, approximately 35m from goal with less than two minutes remaining. He’d been flawless off the tee all evening, but this time his timing was off. He hooked it wide, the ball almost perfectly horizontal as it slipped agonisingly by the post.

Dave’s Rennie-gades maintain their perfect record, but next up is Munster, and far more will be required at Scotsoun to see off the team that have become the Warriors’ fiercest rivals. Missing 20 tackles and conceding 23 turnovers would not go unpunished by the marauding red machine.

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)

SRBlog Man of the Match: As earlier mentioned, Finn was very “Finn-y”, and was perfect off the tee which in the end made all the difference, but MOTM goes to the Kiwi crusher, Callum Gibbins. He was effective at the breakdown, made some decent carries and topped the tackle count for Glasgow. After only 2 competitive games for his new side, he already looks like a shrewd bit of business.

16 Responses

  1. A wins a win and all that, but it was painful to watch. A game they would definitely have been lost last season. It all seemed a bit too frantic for me, pyrgos was struggling to keep up with things (along with a few others).

    They were playing too much rugby for the conditions, it was pishing down over half the match. Knock on’s were a symptom of an overly ambitious game plan considering the conditions. I wish we could kick a lot better. Not those endless grubber or chip kicks that rarely come off. Munster will be relishing going after our scrum which was and has been a real problem so far this season. Hopefully they will find that extra gear next week because they are going to need to.

    1. Fair comment about the conditions, but Scarlets managed to play suave rugby in worse conditions against Zebre the other week.

      1. Suave rugby against Zebre maybe, but the same style in poor conditions against a decent team, I’m not so sure. Scarlet’s do have a good kicking game when they need it, I’m not convinced that we have that as a reliable option when we need it. Plenty to work on and form will pick up eventually. I think we have slightly raised our low performance troughs for now with better defence in the main. All good for me after last years wobbles.

  2. I’m starting to get worried about the Glasgow defence. That’s 66 missed tackles in 3 games. Need to sort it out quickly with Munster visiting next. There’s lots to do on the basics, scrum wasn’t great, lineout wasn’t great, tackling wasn’t great, kicking wasn’t great, turnover ratio was poor, decision making often wasn’t great, some of the attack moves and counter attack in particular were good but the handling wasn’t. On the upside its another win, fitness levels are high, no serious injuries so far and the confidence is there.

  3. Playing badly yet still winning.Can be a dangerous team.Mind you….Munster are consistent and ruthless.It will not be pretty.

  4. Mystified by what led to the horror show on Saturday but now thinking Lee Jones could well be a first choice on the wing come the AIs. Not that long ago, I would have been concerned about his defence & vulnerability to be simply run over/through but he seems to have really stepped up on that front & he’s had a knack of reading the game well this season and being in the right place to finish off moves. Some fine touches in “that” try against Oz in the summer too. Glad that at least someone isn’t still suffering jet lag after the flight back from Fiji..

    1. Lee Jones really has come on in leaps and bounds since traversing the M8. A stop-gap measure at first, but he’s now a real asset to the squad. Ideally, I’d have Seymour and Sarto on the wings, but Jones has proven to be an able deputy. As with Seymour when he first joined, he’s bulked up, but not to the detriment of his speed and movement.

  5. I suppose I have to say on a positive note that we found a way to win the match when we were woeful for large parts of it, but in reality that was a match that Cardiff threw away. Hopefully the players got an absolute bollocking for it and have a poor performance out their system with no harm done.

    Although Prygos stood out as being particularly poor (and will find himself fourth choice soon enough), he wasn’t helped by a general poor performance and a lack of structure or physicality. The mercurial Finn had one of those mental games where nothing came off for him (until the try assist) but kicked well, Dunbar was feeble in defence, and the front five got schooled. Even Adam Ashe who has been receiving rave reviews this season doesn’t dominate enough in attack or defence for me. I would say that Matt Fagerson is more abrasive and aggressive. The sooner Johnny is back the better, and obviously Ryan Wilson and even Rob Harley (a game like that was meant for him) would have added much more dog to the pack.

    Gigantic improvement will be needed against Munster who have shown ruthless physical dominance this season and that is without their Lions contingent, who I would assume would be back en masse at the weekend.

  6. Agree about the Munster pack ruthlessness.
    Unless the Glasgow pack ‘front up’ against the Munster ‘house of Pain’ forwards, and match them in the hard yards, Glasgow are looking at yet another defeat against them. Ordinarily, I’d say we’d win with forward parity, as our backs are that much better, but the poor tacking (or absence of tacking in the case of Dunbar) is a bit worrying.
    Still haven’t seen any sign of Vunisa, the hard carrying no 8, or Hananakanuka so far. You’d have thought these are big ‘hard yard’ lads who would be ideal for a match against Munster.
    So far, Rennie seems to be picking the same core of (Scottish) players and throwing in a few others to rotate.

    1. Vunisa’s injured until late 2016/early 2017, Hana-whatever is playing Mitre 10 in NZ until Oct/Nov I think.

  7. I feel supporters are very harsh on Henry Pyrgos and have short memories as to how *not very good* he was when first pulled on a black shirt. He eventually showed a bit of form then had a good season, followed by a great season before injury and a loss of form. If he is to regain his previous form he’ll need some confidence gaining game time. I don’t know how he’ll get through this period when in terms of form he would be lucky to be 3rd choice and if Niko gets his mojo maybe not even that.

    * edited for language

  8. Scraped the win, but played the rugby. You can see what Rennie is trying to have them do, and it is high risk. The plus side is that you can make mistakes against a team as poor as Cardiff and still come away with a win, the down side is Glasgow don’t face Cardiff in the Champions Cup.

    On the plus side, and it is a massive plus so far – Callum Gibbons. How sharp has he looked in his 2 outings so far? I was hugely disappointed that Favaro was released, but this guy is more than filling his boots at the moment.

    Cardiff scored off a rare missed tackle from Dunbar. I didn’t see him miss any others in this game, but I think he sets himself higher standards than that so I don’t expect to see too many more. Has anyone any news on his injury?

    Both Glasgow tries were well worked, Pyrgos in particular being the beneficiary of some lovely handling in the run up to his score. Every pass drew and eliminated a defender – it was a delight to watch from the camera behind the try line.

    Given that Edinburgh took the opportunity to grasp their banana skin in almost comic style, I’m happy to see 3 W’s posted in Conference A. Confidence will build, lessons will be learned.

You might also like these:

Scotland’s training squad for the 2024 Women’s Six Nations is a mostly familiar core with a smattering of new names – including several who have really impressed in the recent Celtic Challenge matches, writes Eleanor.
Stuart got in touch to tell us about the alternative reality that Saturday's game forced him into. So here it is, the Six Nations Table where Scotland won. To be continued...
Give us your thoughts on the game as Scotland welcome England to Murrayfield.
Gregor Townsend has made three adjustments to the team for the upcoming Six Nations clash against England at Murrayfield.

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion