Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Glasgow Warriors 31-21 Leinster

Pete Horne
Peter Horne in action for Glasgow Warriors vs Leinster - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Leinster had a pretty good start to this one, confident after dispatching Glasgow at Scotstoun albeit with a much changed team a few weeks ago. Jamison Gibson-Park spurted from the back of a ruck the first time Leinster got into the 22 and opened the scoring just inside 5 minutes.

Glasgow offered a near instant response, the two scrum-halves George Horne and the superb Niko Matawalu – here playing on the wing – combining. Niko danced in behind the ruck and slipped it to George Turner who popped George Horne through a gap to scamper over for a try.

There was a barrage of fireworks in the sky above Scotstoun, and on the pitch too.

It was a helter-skelter affair as Leinster hit back with strong runs from Sean Cronin and Scott Fardy that led to a try for Leinster centre Rory O’Loughlin.

There wasn’t much tackling going on.

Niko almost put Grigg into space for another try for Glasgow but the defensive cover saw the stocky centre into touch. Grigg took his chance minutes later after more creative running by Matawalu gave Glasgow acres of space to attack in.

With high tempo a priority, Jordi Murphy was sent to the bin for knocking over George Horne as he ran past from a tapped penalty. Glasgow made Murphy and Leinster pay and then some, with two tries in quick succession.

The first came from Horne again, captain Calum Gibbins confidently opting for the corner then Horne burrowing through tackles to slap the ball down on the line. The second try secured a bonus point after just 23 minutes.

It may well come to be known as Niko’s masterpiece.

First standoff Peter Horne spread the turnover ball, then fullback Ruaridh Jackson passed to the Fijian mere metres from his own line, and he set off on a jinking, dancing run, only at the very last moments showing a rare degree of sense and offloading to Nick Grigg at the other end of the pitch who finished it off to a roar from the delirious Scotstoun crowd.

Leinster’s scrum was their sole source of comfort but outside that it had been all Glasgow. It wasn’t perfect – Pete Horne put a couple of kicks out on the full and there were knock-ons aplenty – but no-one was asking for a refund.

Half time: Glasgow Warriors 31-14 Leinster

Scott Cummings was made to pay for a period of Glasgow indiscipline either side of the break and was shown a yellow card for taking his man in the air at the lineout. From the lineout Leinster spread it to the opposite corner and Adam Byrne showed quick hands to dot the ball down in the corner. Despite the theatrics of the first half, Leinster were not all that far behind and the tricky conversion by Ross Byrne closed the margin to ten. With the way tries flowed in the first half that was a margin that could be easily overcome.

The second half was much tighter as Leinster pulled the game into an area far more comfortable for them. Glasgow lost Matt Fagerson to what looked like a knee injury with a half an hour to go and Leinster looked like the momentum was slowly swinging towards them.

Glasgow still had the lead, and managed to hold out while Leinster made a hash of their own lineout and gave the home side some breathing room.

As Sam Johnson made way for Alex Dunbar, Leinster were continuing to press and spending increasingly consistent periods deep in the Glasgow half. Glasgow too were starting to show the indiscipline off the ball that has plagued them at times this season – even if some of South African referee Stuart Barry’s decisions were baffling.

Alex Dunbar was sent off for ten almost instantly he had come on, another victim of Glasgow’s goal line infringements. Without him, an incensed Scotstoun screamed themselves hoarse backing the 14 remaining men who shunted the visitors back, and a penalty the other way at the breakdown – even as it looked like Gibbins had got himself into difficulty – gave Glasgow some breathing room. Horne cleared to touch – just – but the Australian Scott Fardy was growing into the game and snaffled the lineout to put the pressure back on the Warriors.

At times it was like watching Wile E. Coyote slowly haul in Road Runner on a lasso, but thankfully Glasgow were doing just enough to stop Leinster from scoring. As captain Gibbins was quieter with his efforts than Scotstoun has come to expect, but experienced heads like Pete Horne and Rob Harley filled in nicely for him.

Henry Pyrgos may not be a crowd-pleaser but he steadied the ship for Glasgow until Dunbar could come back on, with Leo Sarto also replacing Masaga who isn’t getting much of a chance to show his wares, with about 2 passes coming his way. He looks pacy, but he might have to go looking for work.

Glasgow didn’t get a meaningful incursion into the Leinster 22 until the last ten minutes, but couldn’t get the rolling maul over the line and they remained scoreless in the second half.

Leinster spent the last minutes of the game charging desperately for the fourth try that would give them two bonus points, but after a TMO intervention for a clearout at the ruck on Matt Smith that led to nothing, this time, Leinster were out of time.

They may not have scored in a second period that they played with a man down for half of, but following that scintillating first half, Glasgow remain played 8, won 8.

SRBlog Man of the Match: Nick Grigg and George Horne were both superb, but the pack couldn’t impose themselves on Leinster meaningfully. George Turner also had a very lively game but you can’t really go for anyone other than Niko Matawalu. Remember before Unplayable Big Naks there was Unplayable Niko? Tonight, he was back.

22 Responses

    1. Aye, some game. First half seemed defending was optional, still, take the win and BP any day of the week.

      Nico – what can you say, Grigg’s second try was outrageous and total credit to our favourite Fiji / Weegie for putting it on a plate.

  1. Leinster vs Glas. Turgid from Leins at times. Scrappy from Glas. Rugby would become a much faster and exciting game if the scrum penalty was abolished. Unless there is a professional foul, replace penalty with a free kick.

    [moved to one of the two suitable posts – ed]

    1. Yeah…I’m neither a prop nor a ref but I don’t see how being fairly beaten (pushed back but not “collapsing” or “wheeling”) warrants a penalty…especially when the ball is at the no 8s feet. Free kick if ball not available or play on if it is would be sensible.

  2. Watched the grigg (matawalu) try about ten times on bbc highlights. Awesome. Leinster will prob watch it and criticise their defense and a suggestion of a trip….. but sitting in the east stand and seeing it play out in front of us was absolutely amazing! Niiiiicccco

  3. Delighted with the win & what a first 40 mins – Nico’s run from 2 metres in front of his try line was a thing of rare beauty. Back to harsh reality – really need to sort that scrum. Perhaps some dubious decisions but if the scrum was stronger, the ref probably wouldn’t be so tempted to ping each time. I just dread each time the call to engage comes about. Are Glasgow really that light on a decent front row or does SRU need to invest in a decent coach?

    1. I am starting to see the value that Gordy Reid had. The scrum was much better last year with him and Puafisi coming on for Zander. Plus Turner is light compared to Brown (although Turner was very good in the loose again last night).

      Hopefully when Kebble and Halanukonuka arrive it gives us other options.

      1. I guess compare to last year….At LH: Reid 1st choice (but would have likely have been in Scotland camp), then Allan. At Hooker, Brown, then McArthur…At TH Fagerson then Puafisi.

        The equivalent injuries last year (Reid/Brown) would have brtought on this years third choices. Only TH is (potentially) adversely affected by transfers with Rae instead of Puafisi.

  4. Come on guys – a fantastic game! Scrum time is sometimes a lottery but our high tempo game is something else. George Horne reminds me of Stringer at his feistiest. Rob Harley was immense and if we don’t pick him vs NZ we’re in trouble. How to slow down ball without getting pinged. Grigg is a livewire. Loving it. Niko…is Niko. Glad we haven’t got Fiji in AI or RWC19.

    1. If Harley is the quality of player we play against NZ…we are facing a horrific 80 mins.

      Talent needed for any chance to compete in that game…not solid club players.

  5. Great report, captures the vibrancy of the game, so much to talk about.

    This side seem to just play for each other regardless of the continuous changes. New exciting players are emerging alongside consistent lighthouses such as Harley and P Horne. That said, the unpredictability of Nico will be the lasting memory.

    They had the maturity to score twice on the yellow card and defended well when down to 14. They took control and managed the last 20 minutes. I noticed Turner is workmanlike in the tackle, it would be good to see the match stats however for me , a big shift for a hooker.

    They are still making a lot of mistakes but have the confidence to ride them out. No mean city.

    1. Looks like Rennie’s style starting to get through to squad.

      Been reading Glasgow forum – can’t believe how many fans trying to find any reason for a moan. Glasgow’s second string just put on a hugely energetic, ambitious and skilful display. It was far from perfect but is light years ahead of where Scottish rugby was 5 years ago. Some folk just aren’t built to be happy I suppose!

  6. The one complaint I’d have is if the second string is this good, why can’t Glasgow perform in the European Champions!?

    Depth clearly isn’t an issue, and we’ve won with a dodgy scrum. Is it the pressure?

    Great to get the 8th win but it would be sweeter if Glasgow were still in a shout of the European cup!

    1. Maul defence.

      And I think maybe Glasgow we’re taking Rennie’s instructions to the extreme and not matching the attack from anywhere spirit with required brutality by punching through the middle.

      Fingers crossed Rennie has learnt a little about how tough the champions cup is too.

    2. Perhaps there’s not as big a drop off in Glasgow from 1st to 2nd 15 than in Leinster? Weegies were over powered by Exeter and Leinster in champions cup and they didnt play as well as they can either. The old adage of earning the right to go wide is still true but Glasgow go wide too early sometimes and against the heavy hitters, you’re asking for trouble

  7. In truth we were holding on for deal life in the second. but that we did is brilliant. one of the few tries where the player deserved to just finish it himself. what a tackle from cummings out the gate.

  8. That first half was mental. I lost count of the times I shouted, “f**cking hell” (obviously that’s not verbatim – I said the word correctly) either out of excitement of exasperation. Must’ve said it at least half a dozen times during The Run. Great to see the second string step up, and for 30ish minutes I think they played the way we’ve been hoping for. The Hornes (incidentally, I only realised last night that when George scores they play ‘Horny’), Niko, Harley, Turner and Grigg were excellent. Gibbins was less effervescent than usual, but still very good. I felt bad for Masaga, but I guess if he’s not getting enough ball he needs to do something about that.

    In the second half it was apparent that Leinster changed their tactics significantly and that, combined with the change in the weather, made it a less exciting affair. Still some solid work, but Warriors left at least one try out there. Bit worrying that they were nilled, though.

    The defence was concerning – a quarter of the tries we’ve conceded this season were scored last night! – and at times Leinster seemed to just waltz through whenever they felt like it. Scrum was concerning in a different way – it seemed to be reffed on reputation rather than reality. Not saying the Warriors scrum was good, but it’s not as bad as the officiating suggested. On the officiating, it seemed like for a third of the game Berry was trying to make it a contest by favouring Leinster with some… unusual calls. Leinster gave away tons of penalties in the red zone in the first half without so much as a warning, but after four or so in the second Warriors were yellow-carded, for example. Bit odd. And it looked like for the third try the ball was dropped, but c’est la vie.

    All-in-all, it was a wacky af game and GW still managed to win with a bonus point while leaving us to say, “yes, but they’ve not clicked yet and they’re making too many errors”. When you’re saying that about a second-string side who’ve just beaten one of their main rivals convincingly, you know that something good is afoot.

  9. Some game!! I was extremely impressed with George Horne. His service was so sharp and he was incredibly quick to the breakdown. What are the odds of him being involved in the 6 nations? Dare I say it – a call up for one of the autumn tests? He made Ali Price look slow last night.

    thoroughly entertaining and uplifting to see a Scottish team playing such an exciting brand of rugby.

  10. Think I am in danger of wearing my rewind button out watching that Niko break. Pure theater the second he gets it the crowd roars and then it just increases every defender he beats, the noise when he beat the 2 defenders near the end will stay with me for a very long time

  11. Can’t understand why Fowles was chosen for the Scotland squad. There’s 3 or 4 I’d rate higher. That’s not even counting Horne, who is clearly the long (well maybe a matter of months) term candidate, and somebody I’d expect to be pushing Ali Price for two shirts within about a year.

    Pyrgos, for me, is the third choice at Glasgow at this point. That’s no good from a Scotland point of view. He should have been moved on in the summer.

  12. Whatever happened to Brandon Thomson? Played for a few minutes v Benetton and has disappeared without trace. Not even on the Warriors website – or Ayr’s for that matter.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion