Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Glasgow 31-10 Ospreys

Alex Dunbar
Alex Dunbar left the Ospreys trailing in his wake at Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow. © ALASTAIR ROSS | Novantae Photography

Glasgow welcomed last seasons semi finalists the Ospreys to the sunny west for Dave Rennie’s first hit out in front of a packed Scotstoun. The fans were excited to see the return of Finn Russell, fresh from his summer break with the Lions, as well as new boy Callum Gibbons, sporting the single best hairstyle you are likely to find in the Pro 14 this year.

Glasgow started us off with Russell immediately putting the Ospreys under pressure, his long kick resulting in Rory Hughes thumping his opposite number into touch. Glasgow set up camp in the Ospreys half but the Welsh defence was strong, conceding nothing. The signs however looked promising for the home side.

After a strong defensive set for 15 minutes, it was the Welsh side’s turn to get some ball, with Sam Davies looking particularly dangerous at fly half. The Glasgow defensive line proved the equal of their opponents however, with a number of huge hits smashing the attacking runners backwards. It was this defensive line speed that resulted in the first score, with a forced pass from Davies bobbling up into Alex Dunbar’s arms. The centre still had all of 50m to go, as well as 4 defenders to beat, but he jinked round them and cruised home to break the deadlock. Russell had the easiest of conversions, and 7-0 seemed like a fair reward for their effort.

Glasgow looked most likely to turn their possession into points, but their set piece was of concern with a number of scrums going against them. The lineout wasn’t much better, and this continued to compound small handling errors which relieved any pressure on the Ospreys.

Russell was given an easy opportunity for 3 points, which he duly slotted, but it was the Ospreys who struck next, perhaps against the run of play. Some loose defence allowed Davies to put Evans through untouched under the posts, bringing the scores to 10-7. This buoyed the Welsh side and they dominated the final 10 minutes of the half, Glasgow defending with an increasing level of panic. At one point they managed to repeal 27 phases within their own 22, before forcing the error from the otherwise impressive Jeff Hassler. A further three points were conceded on the halftime whistle, but Glasgow would have been pleased with the improvement in defence.

Half-time: Glasgow 10-10 Ospreys

The second period began much like the first, with Glasgow dominating possession and territory. Rory Hughes had been busy in both defence and attack, and one huge break got Glasgow into the Ospreys’ 22 before he departed, replaced by Leonardo Sarto. Dave Rennie’s Chiefs side were known for their quick pace and tempo, and Finn Russell is an obvious candidate for someone who would thrive in that style of play.

It was, therefore, no surprise to anyone – except perhaps the Welsh defence – when a shot at goal was turned down in favour of a quick tap. Fullback Ruaridh Jackson was supporting well, and a lovely offload saw Sarto score with his first touch. Having played well in limited appearances when he first arrived last season, the Italian wing is starting to look prolific. He is fast playing himself into the 1st choice XV, which won’t have resting Tommy Seymour sleeping easily. Russell made no error with the extras, and Scotstoun was rocking.

The Ospreys came back at Glasgow, but openside Gibbons lead the home defence with a reckless abandon reminiscent of a certain departed Italian back row. The Welsh attack progressively became more predictable, and a wild pass in midfield was easily intercepted by Adam Ashe. The big No.8 had another brilliant game, and had enough gas to make the line, via a thumping hand off on the desperate cover tackle of Davies. Russell again slotted the extras, and the 14 point lead looked far too much for the Ospreys to come back from.

From Glasgow’s perspective, 15 minutes remained to achieve the full five point win by notching up another try. Last year’s iteration of the Warriors would have failed in this task, but the 2017/18 vintage looks to be made of something a bit stronger.

It was of course Alex Dunbar – who played with his usual combination of frankly ridiculous defensive strength, excellent breakdown work, and thumping ball carrying – who got the 4th, capping a brilliant second half for the home side. He then backed this up by turning another ball over just before the final whistle, ensuring that it was Glasgow who had the final play.

Russell almost scored a 50m drop goal from inside his own half as the final play of the game, which was suitably tongue in cheek from a Glasgow side who look like their old selves again.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR)

SRBlog Man of the Match: Alex Dunbar stamped himself all over this game with a try to start and a try to finish, plus a turnover to finish the game off. Looks sharper and more importantly faster than he has in years.

43 Responses

    1. Great to see Adam Ashe step up in the first 2 games after a less than glorious return from injury. Keeps this up it will be Josh who? Ah yes, the Beard that Disappeared! We were far from perfect, but a BP win when your not firing on all cylinders is not to be sniffed at.

  1. Forwards
    1. Kebble
    2. Brown
    3. Fagerson
    4. Cummings
    5. Gray
    6. Wilson (c)
    7. Gibbins
    8. Ashe
    9. Price
    10. Russell
    11. Seymour
    12. Dunbar
    13. Jones
    14. Sarto
    15. Hogg
    16. Turner
    17. Bhatti
    18. Halanukonaka
    19. Big Brian
    20. Harley
    21. Matawalu
    22. P.Horne
    23. Hughes

    This would be my full Strength glasgow 23 based on what ive seen so far

    Turner has shown enough for me to get reserve hooker
    Loosehead is our weakest position imo and Felt a on form ryan grant or if they kept reid would have shorn this up.
    Tighthead im excited to see what halanukonaka can do but looks like a good impact player once fagerson has had his way with the oppo.
    2nd rows looks very good and was torn between cummings and Brian for the 2nd spot , could go either way imo, good impact either way off bench.
    Backrow Picks itself based of what we seen so far , wilson has done well as captain imo , Gibbins looks a beast and brings that seven spot up to international quality that we have been lacking, Ashe has been in good form so far and just needs to continue it. Harley in the subs Provides Cover for whole backrow and 2nd row if desperate to a good standards and edges M.Faegerson atm , give it a year and might be different.
    First choice backline picks itself almost and im struggling to think of a better backline outside of possibly the hurricanes in club rugby. Only tough call was Hughes or Sarto , If hughes Plays the way he did yesterday he takes it , but i have not seen Sarto have a bad game. Unlucky on lee jones but those guys just have better strike power.

    Reserve backs brings experience versatility and impact i believe , it was close between G.horne and matawalu but if matawalu if anything like what he was before , it will be a tiring defenses nightmare.

    What would you guys change to that squad
    Interested to know your guys top 23.

    1. Good looking team. Any word on Kebble’s injury? Also there are a number of players in that team out injured (e.g. Gray, Hogg) who would you swap in for them? Let’s hope there are no more injuries and we get to see that team take the field at some point!

    2. I’d take Fagerson over Harley, and Jones over Hughes, but it feels like I’m being picky. At full strength and when they’ve gelled, they’re going to be unstoppable. With a bit more toughness, I think they’ll be up there with Sarries. ERCC finalists next year?

  2. I find it amazing that we are now in a position to complain about two bonus point wins because we’re not satisfied that our teams are playing to their potential. It’s wonderful to think that they’re only going to get better. I am seriously excited, and I can’t wait to see what the impact of this improvement in quality has on the national team.

  3. Didn’t see the game, but from what I have read here and elsewhere Gibbins seems the dogs danglies. Last week against Connacht I felt that the back row did ok, but young Smith struggled to impose himself – nothing wrong with that given he is still a very young player, and finding his feet in the Pro game. I was hoping for a more dominant open side performance this week, so I’m very happy to read the plaudits being dished out.

    Unfortunately the SA teams seem to be doing an “Italian Job” at the moment, which can’t be good for the blood pressure in Pro14 Towers. And the Italians seem to be carrying on as normal, which has meant some big BP wins for the likes of Munster, Leinster, Scarlets. To be honest, I’m not that bothered by that as I think the win in Connacht, and this comprehensive win at home provide a better indication of how Glasgows’ season may progress.

    The next round of games sees Glasgow play Cardiff and Edinburgh vs Treviso, so it isn’t impossible to imagine 6 from 6 before facing real challenges in Munster and Scarlets in round 4.

    And when you consider that guys like Hogg and Gray at Glasgow, and Sutherland and Dickinson at Edinburgh have to come back, it is very promising.

    1. My understanding from our SAFA friends is that the teams will be quite a bit stronger post-Currie Cup. They are both effectively playing two sides at present which would stretch the resources of any team. It’ll be interesting to see how they do when the inverse is true during the Six Nations.

      Of course we should really reserve judgement until next year, as clearly both sides struggled with contracting players, and neither had a proper pre-season. I am quite comfortable with allowing them a season to bed in without much criticism – I’m fairly sure that’s a very common view?

      1. A very valid point about the travails of competing in both competitions John, and you are right to say that they get a years grace given the way their inclusion in the Pro14 has come about. They are playing an 18 month season I think?

        In light of that, what should be the stance on the primacy of the Pro14 over the Currie Cup? Munster, Scarlets and Ulster have had the advantage of playing weaker SA teams, and have secured heavy BP wins because of it. If this were the pattern at the start of each year then the league would have to make changes, or risk damaging the credibility of the competition.

  4. Glasgow, Munster, Leinster and Scarlets are all looking strong. The jury is still out on Ulster Connacht and Edinburgh. The rest of the teams have looked poor so far.
    Ospreys are still missing a number of Lions players being brought back slowly, so they might re-emerge later. Ulster will certainly miss Pienaar this year and might not be very cohesive.
    The Glasgow v Munster game looks like a killer. They beat Glasgow 4 times out of 4 last year, albeit by tiny margins (other than the Foley funeral game), so I’m looking forward to seeing how the new Glasgow attitude works against the ‘House of Pain’ brigade.
    I still haven’t heard anything about the Kebble injury. It would be so disappointing if it was a serious injury, after such a promising cameo appearance.
    Looking forward to seeing Halanukonaka getting a run out. (I’ve tried saying this many times without success. There has to be a nickname?)

    1. Scarlets in particular have hit the ground running. No post-title malaise a la Connacht for them.

      Ulster looked like flat track bullies against Treviso on Saturday, after turning over the Cheetahs in round 1. They didn’t seem to have the nous to deal with a Treviso side who weren’t willing to fold when 2 scores down in the last 20. Losing Ruan Pienaar may really count against them this season.

      1. In both games so far this season, Treviso have looked no pushovers. I think we may see them pick up some notable scalps this season, or at least they won’t be the guaranteed bonus points they have been in years past.

  5. Is it reasonable to assume that both Gibbins and Kebble are project players? When was/is the cut-off for the change to the 5 year residency rule and how do each of these guys (and Tagive I suppose) fit into that?

      1. Kebble definitely was identified as a project player by the SRU. Gibbons is too old to be considered s such, he’ll be 32 when he qualifies and was directly recruited by Rennie.

  6. Obviously early days but thoughts on team selection for Samoa//NZ.

    15. Kinghorn//Maitland
    14. Seymour
    13. Jones
    12. Taylor//Dunbar
    11. Visser
    10. Russell
    9. Price
    1. Dell/Reid
    2. Ford
    3. Fagerson//Nel
    4. Cummings
    5. Toolis
    6. Barclay
    7. Watson//Hardie
    8. Ashe

    If he can keep his current form up, then Kinghorn deserves a start against Samoa. Maitland to come in though against the all blacks.
    A Taylor/Jones partnership could be something really special so would give that a shot in the first test before bringing Dunbar in to counter Sonny Bill etc.
    Hardies NZ knowledge gives him the edge for the second test plus we’ll need him to rush out the line on Barrett.

    Real shame that Hogg/Gray/Gray/Brown are injured since the All Blacks look weaker than previous years. Still brilliant obviously but definitely more vulnerable

    1. I would start kinghorn against the all blacks with maitland on bench should things go south, put him against the hardest opposition we will face with a near full strength team of our own to see what kinghorn is made off.

      i also can see dunbar possibly edging the the jones partnership over taylor if not this autumn then onwards from their just due to the familiarity they will get week in and out at glasgow.

    2. Hogg has been seen in the training ground with Glasgow, so he may make the cut yet. I would have Kinghorn involved in some capacity with the squad, but I think Taylor or Maitland will be in line to cover FB this series.

      Both Grays are a loss, Cummings has huge potential, but pitching him in alongside Toolis against Retallick and Whitelock seems like lambs to the slaughter for me. Gilchrist and Swinson have to feature just to give you some experienced heads.

      I hope Ashe gets a decent run of games injury-free. He has the physical attributes to push Strauss, but I feel much will depend on how Wilson goes as Glasgow captain – the responsibility could really make him as a player.

      1. Think it’s a bit early to be throwing Kinghorn in to the starting 15 personally. Yes he has had a flying start to the season and if he can maintain this level of performance then he definitely comes into the reckoning. However, he completely lost his way in the second half of last season and his confidence dipped noticeably because of that, he has time on his side so let him continue to develop. Personally I think having him in training with the squad this autumn would be a good idea.

    3. Having just watched the All Blacks destroy South Africa I wouldn’t be too quick to suggest they’re weaker than previous years. With everyone available and in form we would still need the All Blacks to have a bad day at the office.

  7. Real feel good second half.

    Huge pluses for Scotland: Ashe, Dunbar’s form and Price has continued where he left off. Also to everyone talking about Kinghorn, Jackson is looking good too…

    Huge pluses for Glasgow: Gibbons, and Sarto, again. Fingers crossed on Kebble.

    Also, liked that Russell was reliable and kicked well without needing to be MOM.

    Interesting Rennie picked out Peter Horne as the player with the same temperament as Aaron Cruden. Has to be the first replacement at 10 for Scotland.

    Odds on Rennie being next Scotland coach?

    Strength, depth and youth in the pack across both pro teams bodes well. I can’t remember when it last felt like there was a conveyor belt of talent.

    1. I have to say I’ve been a tiny bit disappointed with Price in the first 2 games – to me he seems like he’s rushing things a bit.

      Gibbins was brilliant, Kebble, after a shaky start against Connacht was playing much better and hopefully his injury isn’t too long term.

      I really feel that Glasgow might be considered to be favourites for the Pro14 title this year, and hopefully we can challenge for the ECC too

  8. I would bring Blair Kinghorn in as the reserve 10 at this stage, it would mean he could be the deputy for Finn Russell and cover Maitland / Seymour or whoever is playing at 15, This would give him a well rounded experience coming off the bench against NZ and if he performs maybe starting against Samoa?

    1. Two slight flaws I can see here:
      Firstly, Kinghorn hasn’t played a run of games at 10 this season, nor last season, and possibly even the season before that. I’m struggling to remember him playing there even for a single game, but I stand to be corrected. What damage could it do to his overall development to begin his Test career playing out of position against the ABs. (Yes, I know he played 10 as a junior, but there is a world of difference to step up to International rugby)

      Secondly, the AI series starts against Samoa, not NZ. A pedantic assertion I admit, but an important one – Kinghorn is not quite ready for the All Blacks, but could play a part off the bench against Samoa.

      I am genuinely excited by Kinghorns potential, and hope to see an Edinburgh back three of him, Hoyland and Graham terrorising defences for years to come, and to have those players pushing for a Scotland jersey, but not to the detriment of the players development long term.

  9. No way should Kinghorn be alternative 10, he has found a position he excels in, leave him there.

    Until watching the 1st 2 Edinburgh games I agreed with the consensus that Kinghorn wasn’t quite ready for international rugby, now I’m not quite so sure, in a good backline & with Russell @ 10 Kinghorns running lines & game breaking ability could well be an exciting prospect.

    1. Kinghorn played 10 at the 2016 JWC for some games including V England. He was not good.

      I think he’s found his best position. If we were trying to shoehorn him into the back line on future I think he be better at 12 where his kicking,
      distribution and ability to ghost past defenders might dovetail well with Russell.
      I like the idea of Russell offloading to Kinghorn at pace to break the line.
      But, it would cut down the space he has to launch attacks which are his current trademark. Best now to play him at FB and hope his form keep Hogg honest. No bad thing to have another dynamic running FB to fill in when Hogg is injured or rested at the RWC.

      1. I think, possibly in much the same manner as Hogg, Kinghorn will have been played at 10 as a schoolboy because he was the best player. Once he entered a professional environment, the coaches looked at his skillset and decided it was better suited to fullback. As Ade said, there is a world of difference between schoolboy rugby and international rugby.

      2. Thank you for correcting me FF. I suspected he had played a couple of games at 10, but didn’t know exactly where or when.

  10. I agree Rory but he hasn’t only looked good against the Dragons. He was on fire at the start of last year and had two exceptional games against Quins amongst other games. I agree that he is probably not ready for international rugby yet but unfortunately in Scotland we don’t have the luxury of depth. Plus I would rather have a player at 15 who is playing full back week in week out.

  11. I agree that Kinghorn is an exciting prospect. Let’s not forget how solid and effective Greig Tonks was against Australia in the summer (much to the surprise of many of us). I suspect that will be in Gregor’s mind when it comes to the Autumn internationals.

  12. 100% agree sir, Tonks is a solid & effective (& versatile) rugby player.

    However he lacks the game changing ability of Kinghorn & can’t get into the L I starting line up.

    I have always thought Tonks’s best position was/is 12.

    I’d probably go with Maitland @ 15 for the AIs but Kinghorn is pressing his claim.

    1. I agree John. In the absence of Hogg, I would go with Maitland. Given that we were scratching our heads for a Hogg injury replacement recently, it’s encouraging to know that Maitland, Taylor, Kinghorn and Tonks can all do a job.

      I personally feel it’s a good season to get Kinghorn involved in the Scotland set-up but probably too soon to have him in a matchday squad, especially looking at our Autumn international schedule. If we were playing Samoa, Argentina and Australia, I would probably feel differently, but it’s Samoa, NZ and Australia!

      I think we need to have our strongest team out for Samoa so we’re not undercooked going into the NZ game. Proven test players. We could perhaps give some lads a good half hour off the bench against Samoa if we’re in a strong position after 50.

      1. Start Kinghorn against Samoa and let him fight it out for a bench place against NZ, this means that he’s going to be going up against Maitland / Tonks for the 15 / 23 spot.

  13. V Samoa I’d go something like



    Taylor, Horne, Laidlaw, Watson, Cummings, Nel, McInally, AN Other

  14. I think a healthy dose of realism is needed regarding Kinghorn. Yes he is an exciting player and is in good form, and yes he’s of a similar age as Hogg was when he broke into the Scotland team, but he’s far from the finished article.

    He’s very exciting with ball in hand, has a great offload, and picks some excellent lines, but defensively he’s still guilty of a few aberrations. The try that Cardiff got a couple of weeks ago might have been down to his poor positioning, and I still shudder when I remember the loss to La Rochelle last year.

    I’m sure he will feature in the Scotland team in the future, but maybe give him a season more to improve his defence a bit.

    1. Tbf Hogg has been dogged by criticisms of his defence from detractors since he broke through too. Kinghorn doesn’t have to be world class yet – he just needs to be the second best Scottish FB available to Toonie on test day.

  15. I’d pick Maitland, Jackson, Tonks before Kinghorn for Scotland. Maitland is miles ahead of the rest in Hoggs absence

    1. Pretty sure if Maitland is fit he’ll start the New Zealand game. He’s the best defender and reader of the game in the back 3 and he’s got something to prove.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion