Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Montpellier 36-26 Glasgow

Aaron Cruden
Aaron Cruden - Glasgow Warriors vs Montpellier Herault in the European Rugby Champions Cup - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

This game was a comedy of errors from Glasgow’s point of view – and often from Montpellier’s – yet it is still a mark of Dave Rennie’s Glasgow that they are competitive even when far from their best.

Thus it was in a game characterised by knock ons and turnovers, that Fraser Brown had a try inside two minutes from a charged down kick. Montpellier’s response was swift, a nicely worked lineout giving the influential Nemani Nadolo a chance for a low stab through Glasgow’s try line defence.

Worryingly easy.

After receiving a warning from JP Doyle for backchat, Pete Horne set about making amends with a second try for Glasgow inside the first ten minutes.

Montpellier were caught napping inside the massive in-goal areas at the Altrad stadium and a smart turnover by Matt Smith when they failed to break out from a five-metre scrum gave Horne an easy run in.

It was typical of the opening quarter of this game; when Romain Ruffenach scored for the hosts, Glasgow went up to the other end of the pitch with quick gains from a Horne cross field kick and strong running from Lee Jones, before Nick Grigg cut one of those nice angles that he does so well to put Glasgow’s third try on the board.

It seemed like things were going reasonably but that was to be Glasgow’s last score for almost 50 minutes, as Vern Cotter’s Montpellier exerted a slightly less haphazard – only slightly – dominance on the game. There was a bit more niggle, a few more tackles made, plenty of unforced errors and the sort of physicality you would expect from a team where a guy the size of Nadolo plays on the wing.

The Montpellier dump trucks couldn’t get over the line the next couple of times that they broached Glasgow’s 22 and the visitors clung on to take what was at that point a deserved lead into half time.

Half-time: Montpellier 14-19 Glasgow

It wasn’t necessarily that it all went wrong for Glasgow after that, but more that it started to go a little more right for Montpellier. Zander Fagerson was replaced at half time but otherwise it seemed like more of the same. Glasgow made line breaks but decision making right after them was poor. None more so than when Ruaridh Jackson got behind Nadolo – who doesn’t turn all that quickly – and when the defenders drew near, instead of passing back out to Tommy Seymour who would have had an easy run in, he cut back inside, the moment gone. The ball eventually bumbled into touch off a pass to no-one.

It was a 14 point reversal, as the hosts (well, Nadolo) charged back up the same channel from the ensuing lineout, defenders flapping at him until the mighty Ali Price hauled the big Fijian down short of the line. It was short work to recycle it right and put Immelman over under the posts.

Scrum-half Benoit Paillague converted the try then scored another of his own two minutes later, to give Montpellier a 7 point lead and their 4-try bonus point.

Glasgow still had hope, but as we know, it is the hope that kills you; the Warriors were wobbling.

They were playing altogether too much rugby, altogether too poorly. Or as Dave Rennie might say, they weren’t protecting the pill.

Finn Russell’s arrival didn’t settle things  – with a bench of Russell, Niko and George Horne it was always going to be more of the same in terms of attitude – but Glasgow were still making poor decisions as to when the offload was on. Oddly for a side coached by Jason O’Halloran the default answer to the question “Should I offload here?” was always “yes” and they couldn’t get the continuity to really threaten.

Lee Jones and Nick Grigg played well, and Ali Price kept the tempo consistent and was always where he needed to be. Alex Dunbar seemed a little unsure of what to do with the ball but then he sees so little of it in decent positions normally, it’s hardly surprising.

Tommy Seymour continues to look off the pace, even if that pace was marked “Nadolo” today. More pleasing for the Glasgow coaches would have been Kiran McDonald who didn’t look out of place and carried well. Matt Smith had some impressive moments but he lacked composure in others. You could say that about most of the team though.

Immelman scored again and it looked like Montpellier were safe but then George Horne combined neatly with Grigg and Jackson (who was then nearly decapitated by Picamoles) for a welcome try that brought the margin back to a converted try. When they do execute to the best of their abilities, Glasgow are never less than watchable.

There were some handbags right in the dying minutes that saw Ruaridh Jackson and Bismarck du Plessis sent to the bin by Doyle but the penalty kick moments earlier that denied Glasgow a second losing bonus point had put the result beyond doubt.

Their talent is undeniable but as with Scotland (outwith these borders more so) doubts still remain about their ability to execute a high tariff brand of rugby under pressure.

Edinburgh, who scored 78 unanswered points against Krasny Yar last night, will be looking to put them under just that sort of pressure next weekend and the 1872 Cup is by no means a foregone conclusion.

SRBlog Man of the Match: always tricky in these games to pick out a star performance where every magic moment was countered by a lunatic offload. It was good to see Fraser Brown back to some good form though. It will be some tussle with Stuart McInally if they both make it into the festive derbies.


31 Responses

  1. Absolutely woeful again from Glasgow and a worry for the six nations if teams turn it into an arm wrestle against us

    1. Yeah, we definitely lost it rather than Montpellier winning, but JPD didn’t help – missed loads of breakdown infringements in the red zone, and allowed the Montpellier players to tackle around the head time and time again. Very frustrating as that was eminently winnable, and they didn’t even ground their third ‘try’. The difference between us and Montpellier has been the leniency of the referee. It’d be a travesty if Montpellier qualify ahead of Exeter.

  2. They just seem to be chasing the game all the time – even when they’re in front, they play as if they’re losing by 5 points with 2 minutes to play. It’s so frantic. On top of that the inability to hold onto the ball in contact beggars belief…

  3. If the tweet comments on the referee are correct, it seems that once again a Scottish team has suffered from Irish decision-making myopia. At this level, if the opposition, in addition to its intrinsic potency, is allowed to get away with blatant transgression, it makes it very difficult for a team to sustain its continuity. I could only follow the game on twitter but was amazed at how often Glasgow pressure on Montpellier’s line was negated by a penalty against or a M counter-attack. As an ex-player, I know how difficult it is to play against 16 men.

    1. J P Doyle refs in England, not the Pro 14 – so his reffing approach is more likely influenced by what he does in the English Premiership and the standards set there.

  4. JPD is indeed Irish, but he is on the RFU panel – maybe the worst of both worlds.

    Bottom line though is that good sides know what the man in the middle wants. Sometimes the man in the middle has a poor one and it then is a lot harder. Perhaps one of these days. In general he is a mile in front of that ? Lacey. I have almost come to terms with Clancy G.

  5. Stevome / Mikelinds — good points…….but there is only a limited degree to which a team can adapt to a referee’s “style” — and it is made all the more difficult if he is inconsistent. Phases such as rucking and mauling, which are essential to continuity, are practised again and again under supervision from world-class coaches keen to make their teams as effective as possible while remaining within the letter of the law. If a ref indicates his dissatisfaction with the method, it’s very difficult to adapt such collective phases on the field of play. Judging only by the twitter commentary, I got the impression that Glasgow’s continuity was excellent in the first half. What happened in the second? Did the ref have some part to play in changing the balance of the game?

  6. Just back from Montpellier – agree with the comments on ball retention and suicidal off- loading. Warriors have to learn to play within themselves and consolidate from time to time. It was a decent game and a good trip nonetheless. Can we stop blaming the ref – small minded and parochial. It’s not the ref who loses games for Glasgow. Congratulations and VC are due to Jacko for boxing with Bismarck du Plessis.

    1. Agree with that. I love Jacksons attitude, although my money might be on Du Plessis.

  7. I only caught the second half and the big difference between the teams was Nadolo and Seymour’s complete inability to tackle him. I saw him fall off at least four tackles, two of which led to tries. His form is diabolical at present. Can’t see him starting against Wales at this rate. That said, once Montpellier got their noses in front and Glasgow started playing far too loosely offloading like the ball was kryptonite they realised Doyle was happy to let them away with murder with the tackle and at each breakdown so pretty much did what they wanted. The “gate” was significantly enlarged and widened for the montpellier players and Doyle allowed them to creep up offside at will. Despite this, he was constantly shouting at and penalising poor Matt Smith who as far as I could see was doing nothing the Frenchboks weren’t doing much worse of. I can understand Jacko losing the plot because the ref simply wasn’t stopping them throwing in a never ending stream of cheap shots. DuPlessis is a bloody disgrace to rugby, he may be a decent player (not great, only decent) but if he was reffed properly he’d have been in the bin for at least ten mins in that second half alone. Cotter looked a relieved man and he damn well knows why. Doyle was his get out of jail free card

    1. Seymour is lucky imo to even get in the 23 for glasgow based on his form for the last 6-8 weeks.
      Give him a few weeks off to properly get settled with his kid and let him recover abit. The fact he is not doing even the basics well consistently anymore demands that he gets dropped for a while. Sarto is the only clear starter atm. other wing is up for grabs between Jones Matawalu and Masaga.

      1. Seymour is displaying classic ‘post Lions’ syndrome. Believes his status makes him un-droppable. With Cockerill winding up the Gunnas to a run of form, Rennie’s season is under threat over the next couple of games. Another heavy defeat could see the wheels come of the Scotstoun charabanc. Other clubs are cottoning on to the ways this Glasgow team is vulnerable. After Turner’s brain f*rt yellow card a suitable punishment a la Bradbury needs to be imposed.

    1. Glasgow are 10 from 10 in the league so even if they lose the next two games to Edinburgh they will still be comfortably in front . Munster are 12 points behind and with their next two games against Leinster and Ulster its unlikely they will get 10 points from those games.

      1. I think Glasgow need to take something from the Edinburgh games. Glasgow took their tries well against a side that everyone is under rating.

  8. Off topic but it was nice to see a few scots get nominated and/or picked in 1014’s team of the year who are not normally recognised on youtube, good unbiased opinion and who hold some of the core values of rugby and and have more depth to them that most news etc.

  9. Embra must be licking their lips – weegies have been gash in the last few weeks. All good for Scotland IMO, a buoyant Embra and a weegie side eager to forget about europe and the 1872s will be a couple of cracking matches.

    1. Yes I’m looking forward to the 1872 too. Hoping to see two cracking games. Also hoping not to see any injuries that could weaken the national side for the 6N. We need our very best available XV in Cardiff on 3 February.

      1. No. Glasgow could have won both games so were not as bad as some would make out. Edinburgh were playing a team equivalent to a club side so you cant take much from those games.

    1. Many thanks, I enjoyed that! Interesting, but not surprising, the FB discussion was the shortest of all!!! I think if most of us were told there were 4 nominees, in this format, we would have called them!! Maybe not, but they were worthy nominees.

  10. Exactly the point Bulldog. It’s Rennie’s first season and I’m more than happy with how’s its going. Europe’s been slightly disappointing but Leinster apart, we’ve been there or thereabouts.

    1. Agreed. It’s Rennie’s first season in Europe and it’s a seriously tough group. He’ll learn a lot from it and you’d think he’ll recruit and adapt the gameplan accordingly for next year. Hopefully they’ll also continue their league form and get a far better group next year and mount a proper challenge.

  11. As has been alluded to Saturday basically summed up Glasgow this season. Slick and dangerous in patches, comically bad in others.

    We’ve got a away with very few injuries over the past few seasons and this year have been tested by multiple absences in the front 5 so always going to be a challenge in Europe which has gone a bit ‘pick and go’ this season. Actually a reasonable article (for once) in The Scotsman on this point over weekend. We have been found out at defending the breakdown/out muscled on numerous occasions.

    Still quite a few positives and think Rennie’s team should be judged next year on where they are in Europe.

    I had previously said a new 10 is not a top requirement but not so sure after Saturday.

    As everyone has commented, Seymour needs a rest or something. He has been a shadow of his usual self.

  12. the Bear has is right re Tommy Seymour – classic post-Lions, post WC-type trough. Anyone who has witnessed his commitment and progress since arriving from Ulster knows he is a wonderful player and will be performing again at his high standard soon. And another thing, any suggestion his failure to stop a runaway dump-truck single-handed, implies a lack of anything is misguided. He is up there with Bernardo Stortoni and Sean Lamont for courage – Jacko now too, of course ( . . . “sink the Bismarck, street fighting man”).
    And some perspective on Glw’s Euro season, please. There is no right to expect progress further this year because they got to the 1/4s last season. They also got the group of death by a thousand cuts but have been competitive in each game losing narrowly – Leinster maybe an exception. Edinburgh licking their lips, Glasgow quaking . . . we’ll see. My hope also is 2 decent games and no injuries, especially the front 5.

    1. I think this underplays how bad Glasgow’s Euro season has been. Getting through to last year’s QF doesn’t give Glasgow the right to progress this year but to be 0 wins from 4 shows that for all the chat of fine margins Glasgow haven’t been at the races. Yes, it was a hard group but Glasgow have given away bonus point losses in every match. They are nowhere near the standard they need to be to keep moving forward from the Toonie era. I’m hopefully everything will click before the end of the season, but at the moment they look like a squad struggling to match the ambition of their coach.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion