Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Exeter Chiefs 24-15 Glasgow Warriors

Dave Rennie
Glasgow Head Coach Dave Rennie - pic © ALASTAIR ROSS | Novantae Photography

Finn Russell’s kick-off went straight into touch for an inauspicious start to Glasgow’s European campaign, but the Scotland fly-half soon found his range, first knocking over a penalty, then floating a cross-kick toward Tommy Seymour when Glasgow had the advantage deep in Exeter’s half. The winger leapt above Exeter full-back Phil Dollman, and with Russell’s conversion, his 21st successful goal-kick from 22 attempts this season, Glasgow were 10-0 up with 10 minutes played. It was looking good.

It was looking good.

Glasgow’s silver-lined start came with its own cloud, however, as after Russell’s penalty, Fraser Brown seemed to injure himself when turning to run back into the action following Exeter fly-half Gareth Steenson’s restart. Innocuous as it appeared with no-one else near him at the time, the recently returned international hooker looks set for another spell on the sidelines. George Turner was brought straight into the fray for his first taste of Champions Cup rugby, and it was going to be a long old night for the on-loan hooker.

From the restart, Exeter were rather fortuitously awarded a scrum for an alleged knock-on by Tim Swinson, even though the ball seemed to go backwards off an Exeter arm before reaching Swinson, and the reigning English champions took full advantage. They drove and drove at the Glasgow line, their patience eventually rewarded when Harry Williams broke through the Warriors’ resilient defence.

The home side had the bit between their teeth now, with their forwards rumbling over the gain-line and squeezing every last centimetre of territory out of every carry, keeping Glasgow pinned back, until giant, peroxide blonde lock (who does he think he is? Richie Gray?) Jonny Hill also scored from close range.

Both sides may be known for their expansive, free-scoring styles of play, but with the drizzle coming down, the handling mistakes – which we’ve seen a bit too often from the Warriors so far this season – crept back into play as they hit the “Gamble” button once too often. Defences held out for the remainder of the half, and the home-side went in at the break of a pulsating first 40 minutes with a 4-point advantage.

Half-time: Exeter Chiefs 14 -10 Glasgow Warriors

Gareth Steenson’s boot put Exeter a converted score ahead, but with the second half only 4 minutes old, that man Finn Russell was involved  again as Glasgow closed the gap. They won turnover ball in Exeter’s half through a combination of Callum Gibbins, who once again put in a lung-bursting performance, and Tim Swinson, who played the ball off the floor to Price. The ball was moved left, Russell weighted a grubber kick toward the try-line and set off in pursuit, with Exeter scrum-half Nic White just ahead of him. White made a hash of gathering the ball, which allowed Lee Jones to sneak in and apply downward pressure on the ball to move Glasgow within 2 points. The try was allowed to stand after TMO review, despite Exeter’s protestations that Russell had taken White out of the game when not in possession. The officials decided that Russell had committed to the tackle before White had cocked it up. Russell in turn missed the difficult touch-line conversion, but with the gap now to within drop-goal or penalty range and 35mins still to play, Glasgow were well in this game.

It seems somewhat remarkable then, that given the ebb and flow of the match and the much vaunted attacking prowess of both sides, we had to wait over half an hour for the next points. Steenson had struck the upright with a penalty attempt, but neither sets of backs were allowed to get going as an immensely physical and draining contest wore on. And with only a couple of minutes remaining, Exeter extinguished any hopes Glasgow had of taking anything from the contest.

It was a case of  the old adage “if it ain’t broke”, as once again the Chiefs showed patience, resilience and nous, to grind out the clinching score from right on top of Glasgow’s try-line, highly rated back-rower Sam Simmonds the man to benefit from his fellow pack members pick and drive.

The game ended on a somewhat controversial note as French referee Alexandre Ruiz raised his arm aloft and signalled an advantage to Glasgow, so Finn Russell subsequently launched an ambitious looping pass which was spilled, and the referee blew for full-time, denying Glasgow the chance of looking for a losing BP. Seemingly, Monsieur Ruiz had in fact called advantage for a knock-on, so the game ended on somewhat of a whimper.

It wasn’t a terrible performance from Glasgow, the “Project Chaos” style that Dave Rennie has instilled will always produce errors, but as we also saw against Cardiff a few weeks ago, if it’s not clicking, perhaps a more measured approach is required. Glasgow got away with it in the Arms Park because Cardiff blew it, here, against the reigning Premiership champions at Europe’s top table, they came unstuck.

The sight of Glasgow being out-muscled by gargantuan French and English packs in this tournament was the status quo over the majority of the last few seasons, so head coach Rennie – who has spoken about a desire to go up the middle as well as wide – will have to devise another strategy to qualm that particular (heart) burning issue.

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (FRU)

Attendance: 10,672

SRBlog Man of the Match: From a Glasgow perspective, I’ll plump for Ruairidh Jackson. His recent good form continued, as he carried for 89m in trying to spark Glasgow into life from deep. Jonny Gray, unsurprisingly, also missed no tackles from 14 attempted, as he searches for match sharpness. George Turner also put in a pretty good shift after having to come on early for Fraser Brown.

19 Responses

  1. Only caught the last half hour so I think I missed the best of the game but it looked like a fairly boring affair. By no means a poor performance given the quality of Exeter but it still shows that knuckling down and grinding out a win in poor conditions against a 10 man team is difficult for Glasgow to achieve.

    I’m torn, I don’t like that kind of rugby, but you need bruisers and Glasgow are lacking in that department. Just imagine how well we would do if we played rugby at a sensible time of year…

  2. Exeter can seemingly do no wrong the last few years. I can’t beleive where they have got to from where they were. Gives hopes to all those smaller lower league rugby teams. Though a rich owner helped i guess…

    1. Chiefs do not have a rich owner, It is a members club. All funding comes from rugby and conference activities. Tony Rowe is chief executive NOT the owner

  3. O’Halloran pretty much confirmed Hogg will be somwhere in the 23 for leinster which is great news.

  4. I don’t look forward to that moment in the game when pyrgos replaces price. Henry no longer seems to be that safe pair of hands that closes out a game. Instead our tempo drops and we suddenly look one dimensional. I would much rather see nico come on at SH because at least with him it can go either way.

    1. I think the reason he is brought on is to deliver the message the coaches want effectively and communicate it to the whole squad.

      i agree though its a bit wierd considering our play style is to up the tempo near the end when we are supposed to be the fitter side.

      i would love to see a backline of Price , Russell , Johnson , Grigg , Jones , Sarto and Hogg start Against leinster with Matawalu , Horne and Seymour on bench to really up the tempo against tired leinster legs , Harsh on Jackson who ive really rated but Hogg has to start when fit. bit harsh on Horne also but i think johnson and grigg work best together and Horne can play that role that prygos does but always bring in speed and identify where the space is.

      1. I would like to see cummings start with gray also , we really need more strong ball carriers and for me he is the best 2nd of that type , if brown is somehow fit i would bring him on not start him for this game.

      2. No Jackson and no Horne , who is going to cover back to do the tackling in that match then !!! :(

        Cummins is made of real steel, wouldn’t mind him coming east to finish for Bresler,.

      3. Agree with you here that wee George Horne would seem more suited to Glasgows natural style – suspect we’ll see him given a decent run during the AI’s assuming Price and Pyrgos are on Scotland duty – probably a close call between Pyrgos and SHC at the moment, but I think Toonies familiarity with Pyrgos will sway things his way.

      4. I agree about GH, I think he’ll get a decent amount of game time this year. That should give us a better idea about his ability to step up even further. I like most things about him and he certainly has high tempo in his repertoire.

  5. there’s another SH option, Ben Vellacott, who has played age grade rugby for Scotland. I believe he is due to start for Gloucester tonight in their Challenge Cup match.

      1. Interestingly having a debate over on Twitter about Vellacott, seems he did pretty well last night but that was only his first start. Are England struggling for 9s?

  6. I think Dave Rennie will end up in the Scotland job within a few years, assuming Gregor Townsend lasts the duration to the 2019 RWC then I see him becoming an Assistant Coach with the national squad whilst still acting as the Glasgow coach beyond that I think that he will take over. IMHO I think both Rennie and Cockerill have been brought in effectively as ‘project coaches’ meaning that either of them (with the coaching talent that they have) could take over the national side should Townsend falter.

  7. I’d like to see this pack and subs starting for us in a few years:


    Nicol, Turner, Allan, Carmichael, Crosbie.

    Outrageous talent.

  8. Is anyone up to speed with any of the rest of our potential test diaspora? Have been keeping an eye on team sheets, but have barely seen Maitland, Visser, Gray, Scott or Denton feature of late. Taylor has had a couple of bench warmers. Jones has apparently been playing very well though, which is a big plus.

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