Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Connacht 12-18 Glasgow Warriors

Connacht v Glasgow
© Scottish Rugby Blog

The people of Galway have suffered of late.

Having had Ed Sheeran reference their town in one of his most recent musical abominations, wrecking-ball centre Bundee Aki is now rocking a top-knot, and they had little else to cheer about by the end of Saturday night, as the Glasgow Warriors eventually prevailed in the midst of a squall at the Galway Sportsground.

An early penalty awarded  to the home-side led to some handbags, but once the dust settled, Jack Carty duly gave Connacht a 3-0 lead in the usual, wet and windy conditions associated with a trip to the west-coast of Ireland.

With the Warriors camped in Connacht’s 22m for the next few minutes, Glasgow earned a penalty at scrum-time. Peter Horne’s attempt seemed to strike an upright, only for a replay to show that the wind had pushed his effort back into play, and as Connacht tried to clear their lines, they knocked-on again. Another scrum led to another penalty, which this time Horne drilled between the posts, despite the best efforts of the howling gale, to make it 3-3.

With sketchy, sloppy play abounding, Connacht tried to keep the game tight and had a tried not given as Jarrad Butler tried to squeeze the ball onto the edge of the post, only to be denied by captain Ryan Wilson’s out-stretched mitt convincing the TMO that he had done enough to stop the score.

Connacht’s goal-line pressure was eventually rewarded with a penalty, and another 3 points from the boot of Carty. During these phases of play, Sam Johnson had taken what appeared to be a head-knock, so the prodigal son of Gavin, Adam Hastings, was brought on to play at stand-off, with Peter Horne moving to centre alongside the latest Warriors centurion, the venerable Alex Dunbar. With the next Warriorrs’ attack, Dunbar duly thundered his way towards to 10m of the try-line, only for the ball to then be spilt forward again within the next few phases, relieving the pressure on Connacht.

With the ball as slippery as Theresa May at Prime Minister’s question time, and more wind blowing than at your local chilli cook-off, any thought of a decent running rugby match, the kind of rugby which we’ve come to expect from both these teams, seemed a far way off. Two minutes from half-time, debutante Oli Kebble came on to temporarily replace Jamie Bhatti, and made an instant negative impact by giving away a penalty for side-entry at a maul.

Connacht went adventurously for a kick to the corner, knocked-on at the line-out, and you would have thought that having regained possession and 40mins up on the clock, Ali Price would’ve kicked the ball out of play. However, he played on, dished a pass out and a sloppy knock-on followed by a needless infringement gave Connacht another kickable chance, which Carty took to give Connacht a 9-3 lead at half-time.

Half-time: Connacht 9-3 Glasgow Warriors

At half-time, all I can say is that this game was not one to use to convert people to the joys of rugby union. Nor were it one for the purists. It was pretty honking.

As the “hefty shanner” (to use another Glesga colloquialism) weather conditions got more, well, shannery, at the beginning of the second half, Glasgow were in the ascendency with  territory and possession for the opening five minutes, eventually leading to Horne reducing the deficit with a penalty to make it 6-9.

Then came a breakthrough. From the restart, Glasgow claimed possession, Hastings hit for territory and Connacht wing Kelleher spilled what would usually have been a regulation catch, as the ball bounced up to his midriff. This gifted Glasgow the scrum about 30m from the Connacht line. The scrum completed, some lovely inter-change play between Ali Price, Horne and Hastings, sent Price darting over. Horne added the conversion, and it was 13-9 to Glasgow, the game’s first real highlight and passage of quality play.

After that clever bit of territorial hoofing that led to the Glasgow try and more wise tactical kicking from the boot of Hastings which kept Connacht pinned back, the unfortunate youngster took a bang whilst making a tackle and had to be withdrawn with a gash on his leg. The big Italian winger Leonardo Sarto came on to replace him, and a back-line reshuffle was again required.

Shortly afterwards, Connacht’s Carty knocked over another penalty to reduce the deficit to a solitary point.

Up stepped, Sarto, one of my star performers from last year before injury cut his season short, to make a game-winning impact. Price had not used the conditions wisely in the first half, attempting box-kicks which the wind blew back on him, but when he dinked a cheeky one over the top to the left-wing, Sarto gathered, stepped inside, fended off his would-be tackler and laid the ball up for Lee Jones who gleefully lunged over the line.

For all of Glasgow’s handling faults, their defensive line-speed was impressive, and it stopped Connacht playing their usual, expansive game. When Connacht tried to go wide, they were rushed and smothered before they had the option, and particularly in the second half with the wind at their backs, Glasgow kicked behind and made them chase.

It wasn’t overly pretty, but the two tries that Glasgow put on the board were cleverly scored, and the first competitive win of the Rennie-sance period is now recorded, without talismanic names such as Hogg, Seymour, Jonny Gray, and the soon to reach legendary status (in my eyes anyway) Finn Russell. New signing Lelia Masaga was largely anonymous, bar one or two nifty side-steps when he actually got the ball, but this was not the kind of game where attacking players were given the chance to shine.

Referee: Ben Whitelaw (WRU)

SRBlog Man of the Match: On a night where many a ball was spilled, and despite some quality work from Ali Price for his try and assist for the clincher, he did make a few too many errors which could’ve been costly. So on first viewing at least, Adam Ashe gets a mention, but Alex Dunbar was thumping his way through his work as usual, gritty, unspectactular at times, but effective, and is now in the hundred club. So Dunbar gets the nod.

18 Responses

  1. Good win, Hastings looks like he could become as good as Russell, his late passes to Horne were sublime.

  2. Very positive start by Glasgow. I loved how they stopped them crossing the gain line, Cooaught were in retreat in the second half, being in possession was of no benefit to them. Well done, an away win , what a result.

    We still need to close the game down.

    Most of all I loved how we won without the domination of our big names. This is a great time to grow confidence by just playing a team game.

    1. I think that what was most impressive is that both our tries were suave and scored by the backs, when you’d expect that the conditions would dictate that any tries would be scored by pick and drive efforts. It was a frustrating and exhausting game, especially at the breakdown, which was a bloodbath. The Fagersons were particularly proficient, as were Ashe, Cummings and Turner. I was a bit disappointed with Kebble, and the scrum still seemed pretty flaky at times. I think the backs acquitted themselves well given the disruption that occurred, in addition to the players who were missing. Looking forward to seeing more of Hastings.

      So, a good win, but still lots to work on.

      1. Kebble was keeping up the high level of South African participation in this seasons Pro14. A couple of pints of heavy and a dodgy curry will get initiated into full weedjie mode.

  3. Lucky for Glasgow they went to Connacht during the summer before the really bad weather sets in . . . .

  4. I enjoyed Cummings performance. He tries to hit the line at speed and does make good yards. Glad to see Sarto back as well. Bit of a fight for wing places I think with a few different options.
    That said, I was a bit disappointed in Masaga after his rumbustious performance of last week.
    The game against Ospreys this Saturday should tell us a bit more. They’re a good ‘running’ team and will provide a different challenge.

    1. I think that Cummings will be the mainstay of the Scotland second row in years to come. He hits the line hard, seems to make better yards that the Gray boys, he’s solid in the lineout, and his defence is sound, and he’s still only 20. I feel positive he’ll get a Scotland cap in the Autumn Internationals.

  5. Good win Glasgow in terrible conditions.

    Can we have more refs like Ben Whitehouse in the Pro14 please?

    1. Whitehouse did a decent job in awful conditions- I think he is one of the better Pro 14 refs. I will be very interested to see what the Saffers offer on this front!

      We must stop,griping about ‘sirs’ ineptitude until such time as we develop some comptetent ones of our own!

      1. We shouldn’t gripe about the referees at all. It is rugby, not chavball.
        Some are better than others but until all the players play an error-free game, the men in the middle should be allowed the odd error of their own: they should have our patience and respect.
        The possible exception is Craig Joubert ;)

      2. Merlot, I approve of the sentiment, but I don’t think there’s another sport in which the referee can have such a huge impact on the game. Obviously everyone makes mistakes, which is fine, and it’s obviously an extremely difficult job, but sometimes the referee has too much of an effect on the outcome of a game. But whether it’s Owens allowing the Saffas to high tackle with reckless abandon in the WC pool stages, or Gauzere and Raynal banning us from competing for the ball at the breakdown in the 6N, or Clancy’s perpetual ineptitude, it can have a huge effect on the outcome of a game that is supposed to be about competition between two teams. We (I…) could certainly be less churlish, but simply ignoring the impact the ref has on a game doesn’t do anyone any good. IMO.

  6. Great win, disappointed in Pyrgos who just appears to lose the plot at the end of the match – if he doesn’t bring a calming influence then at least stick George Horne on the bench please.

  7. Well played Glasgow to close this one out.

    At risk of sounding smug about the quality of rugby supporter following this blog, here’s a wee statistic which suggests that scottishrugbyblog supporters are above average in their knowledge of the game. On the Superbru Pro14 fantasy league, I came 23rd out of 38 in the scottishrugbyblog pool (i.e. 60% of players had better predictions than me) but 216th out of 569 in the Glasgow Warriors Fans pool (i.e. I was in the top 38% in this pool). Ergo…? Given that I predicted 6 out of 7 results (if not margins) correctly, it’s quite impressive that 22 scottishrugbyblog pool members did better in their predictions.

    I couldn’t quite bring myself to predict an Edinburgh win, even though I wanted to…should have had more faith…

  8. Horrific conditions in Galway – I was so glad Glasgow were playing into the wind first half. Turning round 6-3 down would have been excellent, but I felt Price showed a little bit of naivety by not asking the ref how long to go – especially with the reset of the scrum.

    That is a minor quibble though, given how well the conditions were played overall. Not many teams will fancy a win in Galway in the rain.

    Other than that – thank god the rugby has started again!

    And 7/7 on the superbru predictions with a margin point for good measure :0)

  9. Any win away in Ireland is a good result. Astonishing amount of talent coming through in this Warriors side at the moment.

    Z.Fagerson, Rae, Nicol, Turner, Malcolm, Bhatti, Cummings, Smith, Ashe and M.Fagerson in the forwards are all 24 or less if I’m not mistaken and could all be pushing for Scotland call ups over the next couple of seasons.

    Cummings could well be the best of the bunch (though I suspect the younger Fagerson might be a world class player one day) and given I though we were well set for locks with the Grays, Gilchrist and Toolis we might go better between Cummings, Carmichael and Hunter-Hill.

    Hastings looks a great prospect as well, how refreshing to have a Scotland qualified fly half looking at home in his first game. I’d bank on him having usurped Horne’s role as bench stand off for Scotland by the 6n. Looking forward to seeing McDowell get a shot too as I think he could be a good option for our national team which has lacked a big strong winger at times beyond Visser.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion