Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Glasgow Warriors 37-21 Benetton Rugby

Rob Harley scores for Glasgow Warriors vs Benetton Treviso at Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow. pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography
When Sam Johnson sprinted on to Ali Price’s short pass and charged over for Glasgow’s fourth try of the night against Benetton, in about the millionth minute of added time, he ensured Dave Rennie’s record at Scotstoun remains flawless.
Three fixtures, three wins and three four-try bonus points in front of three sell-out crowds. On paper, this season’s Warriors could literally do no better in front of their home support. Throwing in a couple of away wins makes the picture look better still. They remain a work in progress, however, as this game proved.
There were mitigating factors. Thick rods of rain fell from the skies in the minutes before kick off and kept on pestering players and fans alike throughout the first half. And Benetton – who  in the past have often have arrived at Scotstoun looking like a group of men who’d rather give a crocodile a colonoscopy than play a game of rugby – look a much-improved side this season. Kieran Crowley’s team are far from the finished article and lack firepower but  they’re no mugs and in fly-half Marty Banks they have a playmaker of genuine quality.
Glasgow started brightly and didn’t take long to forge a lead. Tommy Seymour marked his first home start of the season with his first try of the season. Peter Horne kicked a penalty to touch deep in the Benetton 22, Rob Harley took quick ball off the top of the line out, fed Chris Fusaro, who linked with Henry Pyrgos, whose perfectly-timed pass put Seymour clear. Not a finger was laid on him as he sped under the posts. Horne converted.
Horne and Banks exchanged penalties before another perfectly-timed Pyrgos pass, coming at the end of long sequence of recycled rucks, put Harley in to burst over from close range. Another Horne conversion took the score to 17-3.
At this point, midway through the first half, the time-honoured tradition of Glasgow handing out a good hiding to a visiting Italian team looked set to continue. Glasgow’s high-paced game and willingness to attack from anywhere seemed bound to pay dividends. A promising counter attack from deep was on the brink of becoming very interesting, but Nick Grigg spilled Sam Johnson’s pass under no pressure.
But Benetton fought back. While never threatening to cross the line, they dominated territory and possession in the approach to half time and Banks added two more penalties to reduce the deficit to eight points.
Half time: Glasgow 17-9 Benetton Treviso
If the first half was scrappy, the start of the second half was scrappier still. Knock-ons and scrums punctuated some fairly blunt attacking play although Horne did add another three points with a penalty. Giancarlo Esposito tangled with Ryan Wilson and earned a yellow card for his petulance. The referee’s whistle was a constant feature.
Ali Price replaced Pyrgos and added a bit of zip and he had a part to play in Glasgow’s third try. Horne had a stack of Italian beef in front of him when he collected Price’s pass from the base of a scrum 20 metres from the line but he dodged the lot to touch down before adding a conversion for good measure.
At 27-9 that should have been that but straight from the restart, Benetton took the initiative. Marco Lazzaroni scored from a five metre lineout, then Federico Ruzza cantered through after a sustained period of pressure exhausted Glasgow’s supply of tacklers.
Brandon Thomson, who replaced Horne in the later stages, struck a penalty to settle a few nerves and as the game headed towards full time, the only question was whether Glasgow could claim a fourth try and bonus point. They seemed to have blown it when Benetton successfully halted a driving maul just short of the line and earned a scrum. But in search of a losing bonus point of their own, Treviso opted to keep the ball in play rather than end things in the 80th minute. Glasgow retrieved possession and hammered the visitor’s line with real purpose. Benetton resisted but in the end the pressure told and Johnson, a strong carrier at inside centre all night, clinched the bonus point score.
Glasgow were patchy but carried an attacking threat that Benetton could not match. Harley marked his return from injury with a typically bothersome display, and a couple of good carriers to boot, while Horne, Johnson and Grigg highlighted the depth of Rennie’s options in midfield.
Dave Rennie’s Glasgow may not be as good as they can be – yet – but they are good enough to for every challenge put before them so far this season. Next week sees them take on a challenge of a totally different nature as they head for the High Veldt and their first ever match against the Cheetahs.
Interesting times for the Warrior Nation.

60 Responses

  1. Another win, another bonus point but credit to Treviso who played well and I think managed to slow Glasgow’s tempo much better than Munster last week.

    I think there was a lack of go forward without Ashe, Z Fagerson and Gibbins and for the big games coming up it will be good to get Jonny Gray and Fraser Brown back.

    Price is definitely first choice at scrum half (as well as being a fans favourite in the East Stand!).

    Can’t complain about 5 from 5!

    One final comment – people coming to the game,a rugby half lasts for 40 minutes. Can people please try to get the beers in to last that long rather than getting up and down every 20 minutes -very annoying for the rest of us. We use the two pint technique – doesn’t seem too difficult! Also there is a break called half time which gives ample time to freshen up, get food and those extra drinks…

  2. I wasn’t at the game, so, instead of commenting on it, I’ll observe that I find it interesting that for all the talk of Glasgow’s attacking intent and speed, they’re mid-table in terms of tries scored, points scored and tries/game. Their victories are based on strong defence: they’ve conceded the fewest tries in the league, averaging 1.2 a game. I feel a bit silly now for being concerned about our defence… It is worth noting, however, that (excepting Cheetahs), all the teams above Glasgow have played at least two of the ‘gimme’ teams (Zebre, Treviso, Cheetahs and Kings), which could skew the figures.

    It’s also interesting that of the ‘gimme’ teams, only Kings are in the bottom four. With a quarter of the regular season gone, the rankings of the teams is unexpected, at least to me.

    Just saw that Exeter were beaten by Tigers today, and were beaten by Gloucester in the first round. With Leinster seemingly in disarray, there appears to be a faint glimmer of hope that we could make it to the quarters. Yes, I know it’s far too early to speculate, but I’ve nowt else to do…

    1. At the moment the only “gimme” team looks to be Kings, although Dragons, Ospreys and Cardiff look weak. Cheetahs will be a big challenge next week. Exeter have targeted European play offs this season and you kind of think that European competition will wake up Leinster. Playing patchily will not be good enough to win in the next 3 weeks but Rennie knows this and I expect his comments earlier in the season about positioning yourselves to win the matches that count was not just press fodder.

      1. Can’t disagree with any of that. As long as complacency doesn’t set it/we don’t get wrecked with injuries, I think Glasgow definitely have a puncher’s chance against anyone in the two competitions.

      2. I can see very few ‘gimmes’ this year. It is a bit unpredictable and I am not complaining.

        The italians are competing, the Irish sides are having mixed results, the self appointed rugby gods, the welsh, are on a lions hangover and it feels like the SA sides will stiffen up after the halfway point.

        Last few years you needed to have 17 plus wins to be in the top three.

        Glasgow are winning while not playing well. Lets hope that continues. Personally I am enjoying seeing how the backup players are no longer making up the numbers and how the overseas imports are fitting into our teams.

        Gutted for Edinburgh at the moment just not clicking as a team , however from a Scotland perspective , plenty of talent both sides of the M8.

  3. Impressive stuff, and with Hogg, Gray, Brown to come back from injury, and Jones due to land sometime soon it is as good a start to the season as Rennie and co might expect.

    With the Cheetahs having dismantled the Ospreys and Leinster at home in the last two weeks, Glasgow will have to be on the ball this week. It would be a real blow to momentum if going into Europe if the African trip brings a loss. Some of the attacking play by the Cheetahs on Saturday was sharp as a tack – their support lines were excellent, so defensively the squad must be switched on. Having said that, this Glasgow squad seem able to score tries across the park – 16 tries in the Pro14 scored by 13 different players – so I am confident that they will get on the scoreboard no matter what.

    1. It will be interesting to see if Rennie brings a different gameplan to the Cheetahs match than the other coaches, with his SR experience so recent. Glasgow also play the brand of rugby that is most comparable to New Zealand SR teams of all the Pro14 teams, so it will be interesting to see if that will translate to similar dominance over the SA teams.

      I don’t care what any of the moaners and aye-been’ers (or whatever they call them in Wales) say (thankfully very few of whom were posting here), I am finding the inclusion of the SA teams invigorating, exciting and very very interesting!

      1. I was thinking that too, that Rennie’s knowledge of Super Rugby may have an influence on the game. For me it is the pick of the fixtures in this round. The only other team that have been playing as well in the last couple of rounds are the Scarlets. Steff Evans has been in phenomenal form for them, he is such an exciting player.

        Looking forward to the game on Friday.

  4. I’ve really been impressed over the past couple of weeks with the improvement of the Italians. It’s great to see them being competitive and taking points from other teams. For the second week in a row, Benetton in particular finished the game really well, and I would argue that the front 5 they brought on after 55/60 mins were better than the front 5 that went off. We’re used to seeing the italian teams come out all pumped up, flying into everything for 40/50 minutes then collapse, but they now look like they can sustain the pressure for the full 80 mins. Looks like an overall improvement in conditioning, but also clever use of the bench, stacking the last third of the game with genuine game changers when other teams might be running low on energy/resources. Crowley has to get the credit for both of those.

  5. Out of curiosity , between all the wingers we have at glasgow what order would you guys rate them in ?

    for me 1. Sarto 2. Seymour 3. Jones 4. Hughes 5. Masaga (since Niko being picked on wing atm where would you play him in this ranking ? )

  6. I think to be honest there is an element of horses for courses, but in general, I’d agree that with everyone fit, Seymour and Sarto would be my first choice, however once we’ve had a chance to actually see some more of Masaga, that might change as Seymour and Sarto are very similar, so would be good perhaps to have a wingers with differing styles to keep the opposition on their toes. Lee Jones is a very close 3rd place for me, and whilst you can’t fault the commitment of Hughes, I think he lacks that finishing ability that sets the others apart. Niko for me isn’t a true winger, and looks a bit lost out there.

    There is a healthy clutch of other candidates who if given a decent run of games at full fitness might break into the reckoning – particularly Nairn and Tagive who have both looked very impressive when i’ve seen them. The other academy boys (McDowall and Yawayawa) look exciting prospects, but I think highly unlikely that they’ll see any action outside of the BT Premiership this season.

  7. I can’t think why anyone sees Cheetahs as a ‘gimme’, not in SA anyway. Agree with Ade, they looked very good last Saturday. I gather the Warriors headed out yesterday (Sunday) which hopefully gives them decent time to acclimatise, avoid zoo visits etc. Does anyone know Huw Jones’ progress? I heard he has been playing Currie Cup but interested to hear how he’s progressing and when he’ll be available. Pleased to see Brandon Thomson on Friday – an excellent player and will be worth his weight in the international breaks

    1. I don’t think many do. Bear in mind the sides they put out in the first couple of abroad were weak due to Currie Cup commitments. I expect them to pose a real test for the rest of the season. Nothing other than a top drawer performance from Glasgow will be good enough this weekend IMO.

  8. Huw Jones is probably the best center here in SA at the moment and is ripping it up with WP in the Currie Cup. Having said that, the CC is in its diluted state at the moment because of the Boks involvement in the tests against Australia and New Zealand.
    Not taking anything away from Huw as he is still up against some quality players on a weekly basis. Also looks like he has bulked up.

    1. I’m not always sure I like to hear that a player has bulked up. Still if the S & C guys at Glasgow aren’t satisfied, I’m sure it’ll be sorted quickly.

    2. Is he playing at 12 rather than 13? I see him as a 13 for Glasgow (with my limited knowledge!) but good he is getting game time at 12 as well.

      Any thoughts from those more knowledgable than me regarding 12/13 being inter-changeable these days (and throw in 10/12 and 15 coming in as first receiver). Are backlines more fluid now?

      Seems to me that the crash centre at 12 is going out of fashion with a second 5/8th being the way forward. Good for rugby in my view as makes it more about skill and less about Jamie Roberts style centres running into people.

      1. I have to agree, the game has moved on from the crash ball 12. 13 used to pretty specialised, certainly defensively, but also seems to have changed. To my mind the best sides have ball players at all of 10, 12 and 13.

        Be interesting to see what Gregor goes with if everybody fit.

  9. I wonder why they are playing all games at the same time this friday… btw anyone know if the edinburgh game is being show this week ? i think alba has glasgows

    1. No TV for the Edinburgh game. Alba will piggyback the Supersport coverage of the Glasgow game.

    2. Anyone else notice the Cheetahs are playing in the Currie Cup 95 minutes before they take on Glasgow? Both games at Bloemfontein!

  10. I’ve noticed that Cheetahs are favourites with the bookies to win this game, does that sound right? Also that Glasgow are 100/1 to win the ERCC, probably worth a tenner…

    1. Rugbyvision have Cheetahs by 1pt. They also tweeted their European predictions – Saracens and Scarlets most likely to win. No-one from Glasgows’ pool given a cat in hell’s chance. But I think that is simply because all 4 teams are in the top 10 ranked clubs in Europe at the moment. I doubt there will be more than one team comes out of pool 3 as they will all be taking points off each other.

  11. I heard that too, not the best news about the ref but Warriors have the big team out and will have at least 4 days training at altitude. I expect a decent game and Cheetahs to face a better defence than previously in the competition.

    1. At least we know what (sort of) to expect from Clowncy, he might come as a nasty surprise to the Cheetahs.

    2. It really is a joke the refereeing in the PRO14. Edinburgh are playing N Italian team with 3 Italian officials and no TMO. I’m not saying they’ll be biased but why would you even risk the accusation? It is just poor organisation.

      How are there no Scottish officials in any of the 7 games being played?

      1. I am as puzzled as anyone as to why Clancy is on the IRB Refs panel. IMO he should be nowhere near this so called “elite” list.

  12. Bloemfontein, on the edge of high veld and at altitude, we will need to adapt. Looking forward to it , should make interesting viewing.

    1. Clowncy is just shocking, like you say for both teams but the touch judges seem to be having a lot of input into Clancy decision making, the South African touch judges… Gibbons is an absolute machine on another note.

  13. Prygos seemed sharp for a change , really happy to see that, Bench had a big impact , niko with that magic again i would like to see him starting at some point although hard to say where. Scrum is still a massive disappointment and i think it will cost us against montpellier for first spot in that pool, we desperately need kebble and halanukonaka in that 23 asap.

    Finn looking fantastic and there is no weaknesses in his game anymore now his kicking at post is sorted 20/21

    Jackson and Gibbins looking consistently good and very few mistakes.

    Good to see fraser brown and johnny gray back and hopelly this will be all the match fitness they need for next week. I would have them both on bench though , 2 of cummin brian and swinson should be starting.

    I would also start Turner ahead of brown , he seems to be doing all the basics well and looks good in open play.

  14. My computer died not long after Stapelberg nosed the Cheetahs ahead after the phenomenal Jackson / Gibbins score. Amazed to be reading about a win!

      1. Did just that, thanks. Wonderful pair of kicks to unlock a pretty energetic Cheetahs’s defense.

        And how good is Jackson. When he plays he plays well!

        I see Exeter are back to the top of the league. Be interesting to see who starts next week. I was exhausted just watching the last 20!

  15. Wow what a win. Watching live around about the 60mins mark I had settled for being happy to come away with a losing bonus so to end up with a bonus point win!
    Thoughts quickly before re-watching with a few whiskys Swinson and Grays efforts were machine like (after swino almost collapsing in 1st half due to altitude to then play the full game (i think he did anyway) was just amazing) Gray was immense for his 1st game back and I thought bringing him back on after his blood was good management from Rennie as not sure Big brian would have made it through to end.
    Russell was sublime as always.
    Seymour was very quiet but that can be forgiven as hes just back and not up to speed.
    F Brown looked like hes taken a bad one and may now be a doubt for Exeter, which now looks like a very very long shot to get anything from giving that we played such a strong team tonight.
    But with so much confidence and belief in the team just now you never know.
    A side note on Edinburgh delighted with the win and been so impressed with Cockers but there is so much work to be done there right now i would bite your hand off for them just to challenge for a play off place.
    Great win for Glasgow (6 from 6)
    Much needed win for Edinburgh (3 from 3 – Already half way to last years total wins)

  16. looks like Fraser Brown got a dull yin just before Cheetahs half-time score. Bad luck for him when he’s just back. . . hopefully it will not mean a long absence. Set piece shaky again but a great win especially given Cheetahs ferocious breakdown. Thought their 1, 2 & 5 were good. Jacko has been a clever reacquisition and happy to see him amongst the night’s successes. I don’t want to be controversial but thought Clancy was ok. He was strict but pretty consistent.

  17. Just a thought we should try and make the covered (non sponsor) area a big thing! ie lets all moan and whine about it (mention it as often as possible) get on forums get it in commentary.
    With the aim that some major sponsor will think its a great place to put their name.

  18. 6 classy , exciting ties. We were rucking brilliant. Closed out with metronome precision , winning yet still making loads of mistakes. DR got it right and what a bench.

    Let’s talk up Harley, hardly any game time but big impact.

    Takes 2 to make a great game and they are an exciting and fit side , not many will scalp them at home and I look forward to the return at Scotstoun.

  19. Jeez, amazed that Glasgow won as Cheetahs looked so much better at set pieces, lots of work needed on the training ground there. But took their chances well & big applause for Jackson – obviously lacks the gas of another well-known 15 but his interventions arguably won the game. Thought Swinson had a good game too, he’s got a bit of dog and a big dose of brain too. Bodes well that games that scrappy are being won.

    1. Bloemfontein is 4600 Ft above sea level, not many 30 yr old’s would have the lungs for that run at altitude. IMO Jackson is fitting in well and is a savvy, well rounded professional. He is not here as a safe pair of hands or to make up the numbers, he is getting on with it quietly and effectively.

  20. Now one for those who like a debate. For me Finn Russell is consistently brilliant this season and as a critic , he has won me over.

    It feels like without the big names around him he can play his own game, his way. Maybe I am wrong , I will be watching.

    1. Not sure what the debate is Bulldog – Russell is playing at the top of his game at the moment, there is no argument there.

      Also, which big names aren’t there? With Gray and Brown back there aren’t many missing up front now, Price & Pyrgos have both played at 9 this season, Dunbar (til his injury), Horne, Seymour have all played outside him, so he has been playing with all the big names at Scotstoun.

      Jones isn’t a Glasgow player yet, and seems to have combined well with Russell in a Scotland shirt, so I can’t see how he is hampering his game.

      That only leaves Hogg, which makes your post look like another thinly-veiled dig at a player you obviously dislike for some reason or other. How he is supposed to negatively influence Finn Russells’ game at 10 from full back is beyond me.

      1. He is on ‘the form of his life no argument ‘ here either, so what do you think has changed ? coaching, surely not Townsend was a man in the same mould , it could be argued he has lost his mentor.

        He has not had the the big names around him consistently and perhaps has had to step up , could be one theory.

        Glasgow are playing as a team, he is at the heart of it. I am not suggesting anything of the sort.

    2. Russell has been playing very well for a number of seasons e.g. (pinched from wikipedia): “2014-15 also saw Russell play a prominent role in Glasgow Warriors’ Pro12 title triumph. In the final match of the regular season, his personal points haul of 22 (including two tries) contributed to the bonus-point victory over Ulster needed to secure a home play-off.[7] The following week, against the same opposition, Russell’s extraordinary pass in the 75th-minute sent in D.T.H. van der Merwe to touch down and tie the scores at 14–14. Russell then stepped up to slot home the decisive conversion from a daunting position to send Glasgow into the Final.[8]

      In the Final at Belfast’s Kingspan Stadium, Russell was again among the try scorers as Glasgow won their maiden title, also kicking four conversions in the 31–13 victory over Munster.[9]”

      He’s only 25 (more or less the age Sexton was when he broke through at international level). I would suggest he’s been well coached at club and international level and is naturally just improving and becoming more experienced, as you’d expect.

      The next big test of his arsenal will be a crucial 79th minute drop goal opportunity…

      1. Agreed – for me it has always been about consistency , creativity was never in question . This season, it is all there. I never though consistency could be exciting. How things change.

      2. I’d agree with that. He is maturing on and off the pitch, and has another years worth of rugby experience under his belt, so is better placed to read the game and make decisions that have successful outcomes. That and having coaches at club and international level who back him must have his confidence sky high.

  21. Highly entertaining match with wonderful scores by both teams. An excellent bp win for Glasgow. Bench played very well with Harley making an impact and Niko with at least 3 lovely and telling touches. Despite the positives lots for warriors to work on in the set peice. Also questionable decisions not to go for the posts in the first half. Was it three kickable pens turned down? Those 9 points would have kept the lead and pressure on Cheetahs for the duration. Perhaps a moot point given the final result. I also thought Pyrgos nearly slaughtered his try – did he not have a clear run to the line when he received the ball? He drifted allowing the defence to catch up, but ultimately nice give and take with Niko put him through.

    1. I thought Jackson was excellent too, nice hand off of number 8 when he broke away after the interception. He’s looking renewed back at Glasgow and more relaxed without the responsibility of playing at FH.

      1. Yes Jackson has been excellent. I would say playing the best and certainly most consistent rugby of his career. Full of confidence and physical (great hand off), alongside the clever stuff. Another stand out performance for Gibbins too, although he possibly escaped Clancy with what looked like a no-arm clear out early on.

      2. Clancy saw it! Told Gibbins to “watch it”..another display of dreadful reffing…in Glasgows favour at least!

      3. Jackson and Gibbins have been neck and neck as players of the season so far for me.

        Jackson has looked very confident & comfortable at fullback and apart from being a bit slower has filled in for Hogg very capably. He may not have got a huge amount of game time in England, but he seems to have came back north as a more rounded player. As you say FF it might be the change in responsibility from not playing at 10. Whatever it is he looks like he is enjoying and expressing himself on the pitch – long may that continue.

  22. Breathless stuff – hugely entertaining from both teams. Wonderful kick and wonderful bounce of the ball for the winning try. They must have been running on empty – great credit for the attitude of the whole team.
    Difficult to criticise, but in the cold light of day the scrum and line out were poor. Exeter will be licking their lips if the set piece doesn’t improve dramatically.

  23. Currie Cup and mitre cup (nz one) both end latest 28 october so not to long now till the full squad of players have arrived.

    1. I’d be very surprised to see Hakunamatata feature before the 1872 Cup games either side of Christmas, although maybe Jones will feature before then as he spent a fair chunk of 2017 injured.

      1. From what I can see Halanukonuka has only started 2 matches so far in the Mitre whereas I think Jones has only missed 1 of the last 8 or 9 games for WP. I would think if that carries on the SRU will want Jones rested ahead of the AI’s. If Halanukonuka is fit he should hopefully be available while the internationals are away.

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