Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Glasgow Warriors 37 -10 Munster

Callum Gibbins - pic by Al Ross
Callum Gibbins took the fight to Munster all night - pic © ALASTAIR ROSS | Novantae Photography

Glasgow served up the style – with a large side portion of grunt – to charge to the top of Conference A in the PRO14 (that just sounds odd, doesn’t it?) as they resoundingly beat the team from Ireland that have become their fiercest rivals.

Glasgow started with real purpose, and opened the scoring after only 4 minutes, Leonardo Sarto stepping outside Darren Sweetnam to finish off a move that had gone from wing to wing. The big Italian had only just come on to replace Rory Hughes who was taken off for an HIA, then was permanently withdrawn due to a shoulder injury. His contribution was immediate, and not to end there.

As the game continued at a furious pace, Finn Russell continued his kicking form by adding a penalty to the try he had earlier converted.

Munster hit back quickly through a Rory Scannell try, then it became very tetchy indeed, and referee Nigel Owens had a word about off-the-ball shenanigans, and Glasgow pressed back up the park. Two penalties were awarded to Glasgow within 5 metres of the Munster line, the second of which led to Mr Owens, sir, having to call another class meeting (just 29 of the 30 players as Sarto was receiving treatment) after a mass brawl of handbags.

Glasgow were being ambitious with the ball in hand, and were stringing together intricate passages of play with some success, but not quite getting over the line. It may have been a Munster side missing some star names, but it was still a tough Munster unit to break down.

Munster were easily having the better of the scrum, and were gifted the opportunity to pull within 2 points, only for Bleyendaal, who kicked poorly from hand and tee all night, to push his effort wide.

Sarto’s burst and kick-chase forced an attacking line-out for Glasgow. That one went awry as set-piece woes continued, but when Swinson was taken in the air at the next one after another weak clearing kick from Bleyendal, Russell extended the lead to 13-5.

Next came a thing of beauty. Glasgow took the restart deep in their own 22, and some quick recycling and some even quicker hands unleashed Gibbins down the right-hand side. Lee Jones was supporting and raced to the line to finish a coast-to-coast, belter of a try.

There was a moment of concern as Finn Russell, who was pulling, bowing and plucking all the strings in midfield, went off after bursting his nose open, but otherwise a breathless first-half ended with Glasgow in complete control.

Half-time: Glasgow Warriors 20-5 Munster

Good news, everyone! Finn Russell came back out for the start of the second-half face mostly intact, and his deep penalty into touch led to another penalty and a yellow-card for Munster lock Billy Holland for pulling down the maul just shy of the try-line. Russell was unlucky to not have turned the advantage into a try, following an ingenious cross-kick which just evaded the grasp of Nick Grigg. The diminutive centre did get himself over the line: after more thumping forward play near the Munster line, Pete Horne channelled his “inner-Finn”, launching a looping mis-pass to the wing which was bounced into Grigg’s path, somewhat fortuitously, off Lee Jones.

Soon afterwards, Chris Farrell intercepted George Turner’s pass and ran it home for Munster, by which point Simon Zebo had come on, and Munster took the break in play to end Bleyendaal’s rather hapless involvement. Jaco Taute and Dave Kilcoyne were to follow Zebo onto the pitch, as Munster looked to try and claw themselves back into contention.

Finn Russell wasn’t for having any of it though, pushing another penalty deep and far into Munster territory. Glasgow were so close to another try from Swinson, when he lost control of the ball as he lunged to place the ball at the base of the post. The penalty advantage was already with the Warriors though, and Finn made it 15 kicks from 15 this season, to make it 30-10 with 56mins on the clock.

This really was some impressive stuff from the Warriors, and it was at this point head coach Rennie decided it was time to switch the front-row, and also bring on Rob Harley for his first taste of action this season. Harley replaced Adam Ashe, who had once again been industrious, aggressive and effective.

Speaking of aggression and effectiveness, Sarto produced an unbelievable piece of play as the Warriors band-wagon thundered relentlessly on. Russell took a quick line-out, the ball was switched to the left-wing and Sarto bounced, fended off, or smashed his way through no less than SIX tackles, before laying the ball out to the equally impressive Scott Cummings who went in under the posts.

Young Cummings, who was excellent throughout, was awarded a huge ovation, to his clear delight, as he made way for Big Brido (that’s Brian Alainu’uese, readers – ed). Jonny Gray and Greg Peterson were both watching, and will have taken big notice of Scott’s performance.

Smothering, light-speed defence, and a couple of knock-ons, meant the Warriors held out for a huge and thoroughly deserved win, but there was one more incident which should be mentioned, and kudos to be given to Mr Owens, sir. As Swinson went to clear out a ruck, he grazed heads with Pat MacArthur, which the TMO deigned as the reason for Swinson’s subsequent grogginess. Replays showed that young Munster lock Fineen Wycherley had in fact delivered a dangerous, shoulder-scud to Swinson’s head. Mr Owens, sir, had no option, other than to flash the red-card.

An exceptional display from Glasgow, maybe a couple of moments of madness and some set-piece issues to work on, but the speed and inventiveness of play was just too much for Munster to handle.

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)

Attendance: 7,531

SRBlog Man of the Match: Lot of contenders for this one. Scott Cummings was my initial call, Sarto was vital, Lee Jones just always seems to do good work, Calum Gibbins is a monster, every time Grigg seemed to touch the ball he was dangerous… but Finn Russell was pretty much flawless. He played with the usual swagger and verve, but there was also that level of control we saw against Australia that makes him very difficult to close down. Decision making was excellent, and his kicking flawless.

51 Responses

  1. Exhilarating stuff by Glasgow, yes it wasn’t perfect but playing the game in that way mistakes are inevitable.

    Finn Russell is the beating heart of the team – yes he takes risks but I wouldn’t change him. 15/15 kicks this season too. To think Seymour, Hogg, Jones, Dunbar, Hastings, Masaga, Vernon were missing from the backs. Sarto had a great match.

    Gibbons was everywhere & mikelinds nailed it “like Favaro with a rugby brain”.

    Scrum creaked throughout, I think Rennie should recruit from NZ.

    Brilliant performance.

    1. Couldn’t agree more with you there John. When Finn plays, Glasgow and Scotland play. He is imperious at times, and if he goes to France as has been rumoured, not only Glasgow, but the Pro14 as a league, will have lost one of it’s star attractions.
      Still a relatively young lad, so I hope he’ll do the sensible thing and sign on for another couple of years at least, develop with Dave and his Scottish team-mates, then go chasing the big bucks once the Warriors have achieved the ultimate in European club-rugby glory. I don’t think that’s unfathomable.
      On Friday night there was a backs department missing Hogg, Seymour, Dunbar and Huw Jones. My only worries are for Gibbins and Huw Jones suffering burn-out as they’ve not had a break for a while having come off a full season in SH, (Jones less so due to injury, but rehab still takes effort) however I’m not entirely sure Gibbins is human, or in fact a creation of Cyberdyne systems.

      1. I really hope the SRU go to the limit for Finn. His high risk style doesn’t really fit with clubs in either France or England, where it absolutely does at Glasgow.

        He is more important to both Glasgow and Scotland than Hogg, great player though he is.

        Hope SRU make him a big offer, he can always go for the mega bucks a bit later, provided he is still in the same sort of form.

      2. Effing A. No Finn, no fun. Towards the end of last season, I made the decision that Finn is now my favourite player, not just for Glasgow or Scotland, but in the world.
        Everyone was purring over the Barrett flip to Milner-Skudder last week, that was just copied from the Finn playbook. And he dished it to Ross Ford rather than a lightning quick winger, so it’s obviously better.

  2. Scotstoun is appearing to be too small for Glasgow with the home games sold out, and people not being able to get tickets. There has been temporary stands created before for big games to take capacity to 10,000.
    Is it not possible to do this again?

    1. The new pitch must play a big part in Glasgow’s future. There is room as the running track could be used for standing, I think extending capacity is complex as it sits in a middle-class residential area which is part of its attraction and its boundaries. Planning permission would need to be sought and residents have issues. Lovely ground, reminds me of Stadio Flaminio. Would hate to see us move, however, is it inevitable !!!!

      1. can’t use the running track for standing, no one in the first 4 rows of the north and main stand would see the game, even higher up would have no view of a large part of the pitch nearest them

      2. @JC : We should use the running track for the Edinburgh game and sell the seats in the first 4 rows of the North and main stands to Edinburgh fans at a PREMIUM. Best seats in the House , they get all the atmosphere but do not need to endure watching the game – Chortle

  3. That was outstanding stuff from Glasgow last night. Real pleasure to watch. They will take some stopping this year, especially if they can sort the scrum out.

  4. Great to see everyone playing as a team – some wonderful individual skill at times, backed up with awareness of what’s around & excellent support running, essential for this fast game to work. Another good game from Lee Jones & Jackson also played some less obvious but vital deft touches. Some credit to Wilson too for what looks like a maturing captains role.
    Scrum is a worry though & other refs might have dished out a yellow card which could have changed things completely. Not sure why Gordy Reid was released last season- maybe not the very best loose head but would have likely given the scrum a bit more solidity.

  5. Re front row 1st choice Fagerson Brown Keeble but replacements still to be proven as top class replacements, agree re Gordy Reid.

    1. I think Gordy got a better offer and to be honest, he is getting on, he has never been a favourite here, why would he not take the better offer! I have always believed he would benefit his international career from a new club. He would never make the top English clubs but if LI can get it together a bit more, he might have made the right move. If not ………..He has his payday.

      1. Reid (aka the Scotstoun express)has always been a Warriors favourite, only someone who has never been near a match here could think otherwise. Was probably the most popular player here in recent times and always had time for everyone anywhere

      2. JC: He was never a favorite in this blog, we have a cheek wishing him back now is my point. I agree with you by the way , gave his best and lovely guy, but I could have done with your positive comments last season when he was getting pelters.

        Mind you, begs the question if the ‘Scotstoun Express’ was that good for morale, why was he allowed to leave ! Sounds like you are a man about Scotstoun, lets hear it!

    2. The management must have thought the younger lads coming through (Fagerson, Rae, Bhatti) could do the job of Gordy and Puafisi this year. With Kebble and Allan they certainly have enough props. The only one who’s looked comfortable at scrum-time so far is Kebble, who lasted for a whole 10 minutes.
      I’m afraid that whatever the qualities of the lads in the loose are, they’re not yet as good at as Sua and Gordy at scrum time.

      1. Yeah I can see why some are worried about the scrum, but Swinno and Cummings aren’t the biggest bulkiest locks we’ve got and I tend to think that if we had Johnny and ‘Brido’ packing down behind the front row we might get parity at least. Fagerson keeps getting pinged due to his feet position. He constantly over-extended and tended to give away penalties as a result. It was the same at the start of last season, but by the end he had totally sorted it out, and seemed extremely comfortable up against the nuggety Wallaby props. I dare say some variation in the props would be good. We seem to have quite a lot of smaller more mobile props, and we could maybe do with a couple more big lumps in certain games, but I’d personally rather see us concentrate on handling skills, mobility and the offloading game that gives our backs the space and creates the mis-matches that are winning us games.

  6. Fantastic performance from Glasgow. Had the physicality and mind set from the off. Great leadership from Wilson, creativity from Russell, everything from Gibbons (what a signing) and Sarto (the missed tackle was just after his knock). Enjoy the playmaking combo of Price, Russell, Horne. Can’t think of an NH 10 that’s playing better than that performance from Finn.

  7. Lots of positives, very few negatives. Played 4, won 4, no minnows in the 4. Lots of guys out and a few still to arrive! Style of play aimed at, top drawer.

    Plenty of the squad have played, no disappointments as such, I think Rennie was pretty aware the tight five would struggle, the plus in the loose balances the struggle in the tight.

    Basically it is a very solid start, and I think we can realistically think about a top two spot in our conference. Not so sure about Europe. Tough group, but a decent start would give us hope. Exeter away and Leinster home is probably the best start we could have in what is a seriously tough group.

  8. I’m not sure that Exeter away is where I’d have preferred to start. A very big, Saracens type pack who will shunt us back at scrum time. Followed by Leinster away, and then a double header against the very large, Stern Vern managed potential Top 14 winners. You’d need to be a sadist to look forward to some of that.
    It looks like the toughest group of the lot to me, and they’ll need to be performing at level 10 to win games. It will be exciting though.
    Can they win it? If they ‘hit their straps’, of course they can.

  9. Much better intensity from Glasgow which was what set up the win. Good win but still much to improve on which isn’t a bad place to be.

    It really looked like Callum Gibbins had taken last year’s defeats to Munster very personally. No way he was leaving that pitch without winning on Friday night. Noises up every musterman on the pitch and I would fancy him in a scrap against any/all of them!

    Watching the game back on tv showed how well Sarto played when he got the ball. He’s becoming a brilliant player since moving to Glasgow. Scrum problems remain and need fixed before Europe. Great game from Cummings though who is developing very very well.

  10. Lets have no churlish remarks about Munster 2nd XV. Both sides had absentees and put out the best available. Scrum and ball retention – does anyone think Dave Rennie won’t be working on these? Agree with post that says we’ve got a stack of young talented props – like the national product, they’ll improve with age though I suspect not soon enough for Euro progress – group will be very tough though and Tom English made a good point viz unlikely to be more than the winner progressing from such a competitive group. No need to repeat the superlatives about Gibbons although MikeLinds comment is a pearler – Favaro WARB. Sarto reminded me of Pete Horne’s slalom try vs Northants a few seasons ago. One cameo stuck with me – Nick Griggs acceleration down the North touchline in the lead up to BP try. Another great Scotstoun experience . . . but can we have some better songs from East Stand Massive?

    1. I loved the rendition of the hokey cokey when Munster subs were warming up and stretching in front of the ESM…brilliant :)

    1. Bbc2, make sure your region is set to Scotland as my iPlayer defaults to London for some reason

  11. Reports Russell has been to Paris to talk to Racing 92. Mark Palmer on twitter said club are more or less resigned to losing him, presumably at the end of the season. Only hope is life under Rennie is so good Russell sees it as his chance to become real Lions contender with the man who mentored Aaron Cruden. Racing 92 would be an awful fit for Russell but I guess a bucket load of cash will help.

      1. It’s pretty poor that it’s not even on Alba. I would have thought that all Glasgow games would be televised but I get that audiences for games against the Italian teams might be low.

      2. True, but I’d imagine that it’d get more viewers than whatever ratings monster they’re showing instead. I still don’t get why Warriors TV don’t just stream it. And why there’s no TMO (beyond the name – there are still cameras there).

  12. Kebble out for 12 weeks at least – huge blow to Euro hopes as that will rule him out of first 4 pool games. Also, Dunbar out for 6 weeks. At least Brown and Gray seem on the cusp of returning.

  13. Finn plays with a smile at Glasgow/Scotland, so did Naka at Glasgow. Naka doesn’t anymore.
    ‘Nuff said. Glasgow Smiles Better…

  14. The big clubs are going to come gunning for Finn and he will be hugely tempted, I just hope he does the same as Hogg and sticks with Glasgow. I reckon he’s one of the hottest commodities in Europe right now and chairman will break out the big chequebook to get him across, but he’s a good fit for Glasgow and I think moving, especially to France, would affect him adversely. It certainly did knock Richie back a bit.

    1. Racing have said they like Finn as he is on the cheaper end of the spectrum for international FHs. That should send Finn running if he has any sense. As should the fact they have just extended Carter’s contract and signed Pat Lambie. Hopefully life under Rennie is so good it puts doubts in Finn’s mind. Or holds out for a less dysfunctional club.

  15. I’d like Finn to stay in Scotland until Japan 2019 so he can be managed. Give a couple of years for Hastings to get up to speed. Finn can then get a big move post world cup on more money (depending on performance). Still only be 27 so arguably be at his peak for his new club.

  16. Anyone of the view that: Finn already has an understanding with Scotland internationals at Glasgow that will not be lost; it would allow Hastings to come through as prospect; and leading a high profile non-Scottish team day in day out in front of foreign crowds would be a shot in the arm for his own and Scottish rugby’s profile ultimately benefiting the national team. Personally I’d prefer him to stay at Glasgow with Rennie and Price and Huw Jones for another couple of seasons, but can see the silver lining.

    1. There would be silver linings if he went to play in the Aviva I think since a few of the clubs there do look to play expansive rugby where possible. The Top 14 on the other hand is a far more commercial affair full of past-it stars earning their pensions. The rugby (from what I’ve seen) is also less free-flowing and more forward oriented.

      The main worry is that Finn loses his spark like Leone has.

      1. After the Wallabies defeat last November, and I think after the Saracens QF this April, I was not alone in commenting that Finn really needed to work on his kicking from hand. From what I’ve seen and read about his positional kicking in the summer tour and so far in this season, he’s seriously improved on that aspect of his game. On top of that, he’s shown since taking over kicking from the tee in mid-6N 17 that he is high class in that aspect too. Added to a well-established fearlessness and accuracy in defence and his attacking talents, the lad’s already a bit of a star and it’s no wonder other clubs are sniffing around.
        I’ve no personal knowledge of Finn or any inside knowledge of his work in the Warrior and Scotland squads, but he just comes across as a totally professional player intent on improving every facet of his game. A bit like Jonny Wilkinson in attitude, and that’s a compliment.

      2. Let’s hope so JohnMc. The big plus Glasgow has now over rivals for Finn’s signature is that Rennie is one of the best coaches in the world and many players would give their right arm to be coached by him. If Russell really wants to become one of the best FHs in the world he should probably stay put for another year or two and see what Rennie can do with him. He did mentor Cruden to the height of the ABs after all. I’m really not sure what other club environment can offer more than Glasgow for Russell – Saracens, but they’re not very likely to be in the hunt for another FH. That’s probably it.

  17. Finn is a magnificent talent & no-one can grudge him securing his families long term financial future, however I do believe that he should sign another contract up to the RWC 2019, then move abroad.

    He will be looked after in terms of playing time, have magnificent coaching (Rennie & O’Halloran) & playing in a team who’s style fits him perfectly.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion