Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


PRO14 Round 19: Glasgow team for Scarlets

DTH Van Der Merwe
DTH van der Merwe will return to Parc Y Scarlets this weekend - pic © ALASTAIR ROSS | Novantae Photography

Dave Rennie has welcomed back an entire legion of international names as Glasgow look to build towards a positive end to the season with a tricky visit to Parc Y Scarlets.

Although unlike Edinburgh, Glasgow are already safely into the playoffs, victory tomorrow will guarantee the Warriors top spot in Conference A and a home semi-final which could be key given the likely calibre of opponent they will face.

The house party returns at half back and Ali Price and Finn Russell will welcome a chance to regain some of the momentum that misfiring Six Nations performances stole away from their reputations.

With Ruaridh Jackson and Lee Jones in Hong Kong (winning 22-19 over England in their pool match earlier) and bound for the Gold Coast, Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour make up the back three with former Scarlets man DTH Van Der Merwe who may not find this one as easy as the match against Zebre where he picked up a brace.

Speaking of former team-mates, John Barclay will line up against his old club for the last time (in regular competition at least) before his move “home” next season. He’ll face down captain Ryan Wilson alongside Callum Gibbins and Rob Harley; a doughty trio.

Jamie Bhatti continues to hold down the loosehead slot, which could be one reason that Ryan Grant announced his retirement this week, while Zander “Zandbags”™ Fagerson starts at tighthead.

With the Scarlets arguably better at playing like Glasgow than Glasgow are at the minute, it could be a ding dong battle but even with the Welsh region still flying high in Europe they’ve put out their top side. There are plenty of parallels with the Wales Scotland game from Feburary, not least personnel, and Glasgow will need to be at their best to get anything out of this one. They are, of course, perfectly capable of doing so but if there is one worry it is that neither George Horne (also with the Sevens) or Niko Matawalu (?) is present to offer a game-changing option from the bench.

With Europe a distant memory for Glasgow, it is easy to forget the seeming ease with which the squad depth has helped Glasgow over the line during the PRO14 while the big guns were on Autumn and Six Nations duty for Scotland.

With everyone back together, now is the time for the belligerent, confident and rapier-sharp team we all know lurks within this Glasgow squad to present themselves.

Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Ioan Nicholas, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Rob Evans, 2 Ken Owens (capt), 3 Samson Lee, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 5 Steve Cummins, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 James Davies, 8 John Barclay.
Replacements: Ryan Elias, Dylan Evans, Werner Kruger, Lewis Rawlins, Will Boyde, Aled Davies, Dan Jones, Steff Hughes

Glasgow: 15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Tommy Seymour, 13. Nick Grigg, 12. Sam Johnson, 11. DTH van der Merwe, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Ali Price; 1. Jamie Bhatti, 2. George Turner, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Tim Swinson, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Rob Harley, 7. Callum Gibbins, 8. Ryan Wilson (capt)
Replacements: 16. Grant Stewart, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Siua Halanukonuka, 19. Scott Cummings, 20. Chris Fusaro, 21. Henry Pyrgos, 22. Peter Horne, 23. Lelia Masaga.

Players unavailable: Adam Ashe (ankle), Fraser Brown (ankle), Ryan Grant (back), Paddy Kelly (ankle), Pat MacArthur, Leo Sarto (shoulder), Brandon Thomson (knee), Richie Vernon (ankle) and Lewis Wynne (hip).

Kick off 4.15pm coverage on Sky Sports

64 Responses

  1. you read the squads and barring a few players and one swap it could be Scotland v Wales.
    Loads of expierance in both sides if they both paly like they can it could be a great game.

  2. This is looks awfully like Wales v Scotland. Lets hope the team is in the mood to write a few wrongs and re-establish their reputation for the run-in.

    Looking at the injuries, looks like Ryan Grant’s back has finished his pro career. He’s not been quite the same player since the scrum engagement rules changed but he’s been a good pro for Glasgow.

    Didn’t realise that Richie Vernon was injured again! You wonder if he will ever get a run in the team again.

  3. Absolutely pathetic by Glasgow. Would be good if they got off Instagram and out of the pubs and back into the gym. Feeble.

    1. It was pretty gash, other than the back three. That said, Owens and Barcs deserved YCs.

  4. After watching todays performance it has become clear the team i would pick going forwards for the season.
    1. Bhatti
    2. Brown
    3. Halanokonuka (for Scrum)
    4. Cummings
    5. Gray
    6. Wilson
    7. Gibbins
    8. Fagerson
    9. Horne
    10. Hastings
    11. DTH van der merwe
    12. Johnson
    13. Dunbar
    14. Seymour
    15. Hogg
    16. Turner
    17. Allen
    18. Fagerson
    19. Swinson
    21. Matawalu
    22. Horne
    23. Huw Jones

    Kebble would be starting with Bhatti on bench but i suspect he is out for the season.
    Brown is expected back soon i believe.
    Halanukonuka is in purely for the Scrum, as soon as he came on we stopped going backwards and so he comes integral similar to Nel.
    Cummings starts over swinson for his superior support lines and his ball skills switch we are lacking in the pack.
    Gray – Yes.
    Wilson and Gibbins clearly start.
    Fagerson comes in as a strong ball carrier but i would prefer ashe if he was due back soon.
    George Horne needs to be recalled from the sevens he is the in form 9 currently. Price is out of Wack currently and so is his partnership with Russell.
    Russell out – the team needs consistency atm and He does not offer it. Hastings has been on fine form and executes everything more consistently better than P.Horne or Russell. We have enough X-factor players in that backline anyway.

    Johnson and Dunbar my preference Solid and Direct and both can hold onto the ball.
    Huw Jones will be starting next season but id prefer people who are familiar with the this systems in that position.

    DTH Looks a different class of wing and much needed with Sarto out.

    Seymour Looked much improved and up for it.

    Hogg with regular game time will light this backline up – that was only his second pro14 this season.

    Reserves are the clear next choices coming in i believe in the forwards.

    Matawalu Horne and Jones cover all the backline and bring in alot of speed and xfactor against tired opposition.

    Matawalu must have a shot at 9 this season !

  5. It was like Wales Scotland all over again. Pretty disappointing really. Hell of a lot of work to do over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully its a wake up call and they can secure the home semi in the next game. None of the remaining games are certainties though.

  6. Any coincidence that, as we reach the business end of the season, Edinburgh and now Glasgow are floundering. The latter look likely to make the play-offs but will be desperate to retain home advantage against the form teams in the competition.
    Edinburgh have made forward progress this year but have failed through lack of player quality when the ante has been raised. Gunner fans are realistic that Cockerill has done a good job but is being let down by some of his coaching staff and players who lack the bottle necessary to take the club forward. The lack of reaction from the dressing room to last weekend’s debacle signify a real lack of leadership.

    1. The saying goes …’When the going gets tough the tough get going’ …. this is not what happens in Scottish rugby. When the going gets tough they can’t handle it. This has been seen time and time again

    2. Wait a minute, you’re criticising the Embra coaching staff but excluding Cockerill. Why?

  7. Was there anything positive to write about…. struggling , but yes, there was , DTH VDM. By far the best Warrior and in just 2 games has answered all the critics on why Glasgow resigned him. Class, class, class, you just cannot get away from it, Class.

  8. Well after that performance it has become clear to me what our 23 should be for the rest of the season. a few would be in such as Kebble Brown and Sarto but injuries look likely to have stopped there seasons (im unsure about brown)

    1. Bhatti (only real quality option left)
    2. Turner (Brown would be in but injured)
    3. Halanukonuka (Made a big difference at the scrum, while not a better player all round this will be crucial for the team to have a stable set piece)
    4. Scott C*mmings (Ball player/Carrier)
    5. J.Gray ( 1st choice)
    6. Wilson (both flankers are clear first choice atm)
    7. Gibbins (Above)
    8. Fagerson (Would be Ashe but injured)
    9. G. Horne (The In-form 9)
    10. Hastings (The only consistent 10, somthing this team full of X-factor needs)
    11. DTH Van der Merwe (Class)
    12. Johnson (Form centre)
    13. Dunbar ( Defensive general/Breakdown king can carry hard which we lack atm)
    14. Seymour ( Form looks improved)
    15. Hogg (1st choice)

    16. Stewart
    17. Allen
    18. Fagerson
    19. Swinson
    20. Harley
    21. Matawalu
    22. P.Horne
    23. H.Jones

    Reserves – Forwards bring experience for the most part.
    Backs can Cover all positions and bring Speed and will scare the life out of tired opposition.

    Btw can we bring back Nakarawa Please ?! we have lost our offloading game completely since he left.
    that type of player is the difference for me between competing for titles and europe and failing pool stages and knockouts, pay whatever we can for him even if its our only signing.

      1. My view is it is not the lack of offloads but Nakarawa and Strauss frequently got Glasgow behind the defensive line which meant the offload was much more destructive and the backs were playing in broken play. Glasgow don’t really have someone who can do that in heavy traffic.

        As a result the game plan has changed under Rennie and I think the team is missing some class/experience in certain positions. I am sure the coaches and heirarchy know only too well what Glasgow need to compete in Europe next year. The silence on new signings is worrying though.

        Hopefully Brown will be back for the run in. He is massively important at scrum time for Glasgow. Still got a Pro14 to win this year and in good shape for the final so away form concerning but not all doom and gloom!

  9. Glasgow were really poor. The scrum was dire but then they were up against an international front row. For me a really good scrummager is essential for next year. Don’t know enough abt it to know if that is at hooker,LH or TH.

    Feedback for year so far is that Rennie’s signings have been poor. Nuke,Kebble, Masaga have all failed.

    Russell looks like a man already in the jazz bars of Paris. He’s been wonderful to watch over the years but perhaps now’s the time to put him on his holidays. He’s been average all season.

    A few where’s DDs for the podcasters:

    1. Greg Petersen buying chocolate just before Easter in Maryhill Tesco, he thought abt Toblerone but went for Lindt.

    2. Graeme Morrison crossing Byres Road with a pushchair yesterday: pushchair looked doll like in the centre’s hands.

    3. Duncy Weir in Finsbay Flatiron yesterday evening in Woodlands- Weeg legend. Is he the answer at 10 for the Warriors?!

  10. Fagerson is quite an overrated prop, shame Rae can’t scrummage either. Nuke should start remainder of games but as people have said he’s a one trick pony.

    1. Just leave Nuke in for now – Fagerson has been out a while and needs to sharpen up. Looks leaner as well, he should get back on the cow pie.

  11. ‘The house party returns’ great turn of phrase. Price needs to wake up , Finn has already won his payday , but Price is now looking like a laughing stock worth no more than a place with the Dowanside parish BB’s team .

    Missed tackles, temper and a look that says no one is home. I think the pair of them were still at the party . It is well and truelly time for the pair of them to stay at home and leave the rugby to the grown ups. A great side , great fans, great city, some class players being sullied by a couple of yahoo’s.

    DTH VDM : any and all critics of Glasgow resigning him got their answer yesterday. He must be wondering what he has come back to. On this performance, Glasgow are incapable and it is telling that the pyrgos try was through the middle not out wide.

    There was only one saving grace, they got precious little ball from the scrum and lineout debacle. Had it produced, they would have looked even worse. Hooked at Half time , says it all,that must be a record and well done Rennie I hope Townsend is watching, that is how to deal with no showers. Disapointed is an understatement.

    No more calls of forgiveness and bear with us it will all work out, this pair need overlooked at both club and national level and we all know it. End .

    1. To be fair, at least Price attempted to tackle Patchell: Pyrgos just watched him stroll by. That was the lowest point for me.

      1. Good grief and words to that effect. Pyrgos scored , and ‘to be fair’ Price chucked the game winning pass , to the opposition. Same as he did in the 6 nations. What can be positive about him. Price was a disgrace he is not fit for duty, neither is Russell , I am saying no more.

  12. Warriors looked very rusty and disjointed at Parc Y Scarlets. Forwards did not impose themselves and I am concerned the McFarland for Humphreys swap has been a very poor deal. Also did not like the look of Wilson and Kebble’s departures.
    I agree the House Party Halves were shockingly poor and I think Hastings should play on Friday with Pyrgos who looked better yesterday. Dunbar has not been listed as injured for several weeks but is not getting picked. Why? If we are to have Pete Horne or Hastings at 10 then Dunbar’s defence is very important (although Johnson tackles well).
    Was hoping for a trip to Dublin in May but not nearly so confidant now. Too many of our top players look off the boil.

  13. Very rusty indeed. It was deja vu looking back to the 6N welsh game. The half backs were really really off. There seemed to be a game plan to kick more than usual which was a disaster in execution because both the half backs can’t kick very well. There’s plenty to work on and Rennie won’t be too forgiving if the international players are letting him down

    The scrum wasn’t helped by losing Turner so early which caused a knock effect on the lineout as well. I still think Glasgow will make the final and I still think we will beat the Scarlet’s at home. Leinster may be a bit more of a problem however. Losing away at the reigning champions vs. losing at home to Ulster are two different things entirely.

  14. On a more positive note the Glasgow boys in the Scotland 7s squad seem to be doing fine. Horne’s 8 second try was something special. I think a few of those boys will come straight back in to the team if things don’t improve quickly.

    1. Pretty sure they’ll be on secondment to the Sevens until the Commonwealth Games is over at least… but wouldn’t be surprised to see them back in when they do return, Horne especially.

    1. Article on Scotsman today makes it sound like Huw Jones is not Rennie’s top pick at the moment and he is being made to work on his defence. Rennie says Johnson has been his best centre this year which leaves the others fighting for the remaining place – whether that will be true come play-offs will be interesting but doesn’t look like Jones is at the top of the list.

      1. Is Sam Johnson Scottish Qualified? He’s must be close to the residency requirements and I can find anything on him playing for Australia… Could make the centres conundrum even harder for the World Cup if I’m correct…

  15. Been reading a lot of Glasgow fans responses here and on the Glasgow fan forum. Far too many hysterical hissy-fits to a bad day at the office away from home for my liking. If someone has a poor game it does not make them a disgrace FFS.

    1. A bad day at the office , I think you mean another bad day at the office where he threw the same pass and the same guy intercepted. Hardly inspiring , hardly mature , hardly credible , he was indeed , a disgrace that cannot learn from his mistakes. You would not let your kids off with it, this complacent professional knows better. He either can’t or he won’t.

      1. Well you know how it is with the ex, they always get the last word. Stop boasting BTW, some have never had one to be ex’ed you know.:(

  16. This round’s squad is interesting: good to see Dunbar, Brown and Matawalu back; glad to see Fagerson isn’t injured; good to see the back three unchanged… on the other hand, Horne at 10 and Harley at 6 is a little concerning; Wilson and Kebble injuries aren’t great; Price and Russell off the bench doesn’t inspire; if Brown gets injured early on that’s another long game in the set piece for young Stewart.

    Should have enough to beat Connacht, but I can’t see this being a classic.

    1. Im confused about Matt Fagerson. Why hook him from the 7s squad citing injury, then fly him all the back from HK to start on a Friday night, possibly still jet-lagged?

      1. No idea. Maybe Rennie panicked when Wilson got injured, but that doesn’t explain Fagerson’s magic injury.

      2. I guess that Glasgow needed him to replace Wilson but the 7s regulations must stipulate that he must be ‘injured’ to be replaced.

    2. Also, it seems appropriate that Niko has replaced Massaga – Massaga’s stats read ‘0’ in all categories bar one: missed tackles. Not a good shift.

  17. Liking the look of the glasgow team, Dunbar and Brown are a big boost and bring a better physical and breakdown balance over all the flash stuff.
    I would of went for Hastings over Horne, Pyrgos over Price i think is probaly not a bad call, his form has been decent compared to Price, Tbh i would like to have seen Niko in at 9 with G.Horne away.

  18. I see that pair of housemates are on the bench, no doubt giggling and playing cards as if they have somewhere better to go on a Friday night. Shocking, shocking and three times shocking. Daft boys, replaced by the seal like clapping of Pyrgos in what must be the most weak attempt to con the referee that the penalty for the collapse should go our way. How much longer do we need to endure these three jokers.

  19. Tbh, I think it’s pretty simple – due to depth, Glasgow & Scotland’s best players (that is, the most talented players we have had for decades) have played way too much rugby / been under serious pressure for too long over the last three seasons: Gray, Finn, Price, Bennett, Jones, Hogg and others all look to have / have had burn out. It’s no coincidence those who have had breaks are playing better now. Young shoulders have carried expectations – particularly Finn, Hogg – re the WC, Pro-12, ECC, Lions, 6N, summer tours etc., including the emotion of GT’s last season, Cotter’s last season, Rennie’s first season, GT’s first season and various team switches. It’s been relentless, I’ve lost count of the ‘must-win’ games I’ve watched. I’m glad Glasgow are out Europe this year, Hopefully those that haven’t been properly rested get time away this summer. All deserve an extended rest before a world cup year, and a good pre-season with their respective clubs, so they’re fresh for the challenge. I think those criticizing, especially with age, would do well to remember how much it takes it out of you being under high pressure for an extended period of time, how important blowing off steam can be, and how there has been a continual improvement in Scottish rugby. That’s all.

    1. Poor professional rugby players, well I have to say , I liked the post up to the point where it talks about being under pressure for an extended period of time and got all critical about the boo boys , like me.

      Arent we all under pressure in the 21st Century! Are we not all driven ! They are entertainers, their whole raison d etre is to relive the fans of the stress of everyday life, to see men at the top of their game giving their all. What is more, we are happy to pay for it, or view on TV which indirectly pays for it. More importantly, give our time, what could be more precious than that.

      When someone is clearly not at the races , not once or twice, but quite consistently now, I say we are entitled to blow off steam ourselves.

      1. Just because you choose to live vicariously through these young men does not mean you have any kind of ownership over them. They are not just units of production that create a good for you to consume, they are actual people. Yes, everyone is under pressure, which is why you should have some empathy with players you claim to support instead of claiming tje are some vessel for you to release your own stress on to. So yeah, Scottishrugby could do with fewer boo boys and more rugby fans. It’s only a game!

    2. If you want to be successful then your season is full of must win matches – dealing with it is what sets players apart.

  20. The problem with Glasgow’s success over the last few years is that it has resulted in so many fair weather fans that are happy to slate individual players when the result doesn’t go their way. At the end of the day it is a collective effort, the fact that such reliance is placed on a few players shows their value to the team. As a professional player, Price is still very young and inexperienced, a dip in form is to be expected. Furthermore, making assumptions about his lifestyle affecting his performance is at best misguided. How long is it before G.Horne has a bad game and is condemned similarly? The same rhetoric was present during the 6 nations with constant calls for Russell to be dropped before the Calcutta Cup match. Imagine if he was dropped then…

    1. Fair weather fans abd real fans, they wont like that opinion around here. Eliteism in rugby…Different classes of fan, really!

  21. Notwithstanding all of that, the job was done tonight. I think I shall reserve all comments about the officiating till I have calmed down.

    Never mind McD – we have a former Connacht player refereeing this game? Eh?

    It’s not just in Pro 14. We may cry, but what went on in the Spain v Belgium WC qualifier beggars belief.

    The whole issue of ‘neutral’ referees deserves a separate topic at some stage. We have to admit, we don’t help ourselves here, Adamson being the exception.

    1. Murphy was simply an embarrassment. Not necessarily biased, just completely out of his depth. Just lucky it wasn’t a tight game.
      It’s the Pro14’s fault that he and others are put in such an invidious position. And Mike Adamson reffed Glasgow earlier in the season. Scandalous.

      1. I completely agree, the fault lies with the PRO 14. No such issues today. I had hoped that we might have had one or two more Saffers on the panel, giving a bit more choice. Good to see Embra do what had to be done. Never mind a last kick derby winner at RAG. ???

      2. I think the more important issue with officials is the difference in interpretation of the laws. Rugby is a difficult game to referee and a good ref allows certain latitude in keeping the game flowing without necessarily benefting one side over the other. Yet a prop forward can be penalised in one game for what he has been doing with impunity all season. This interpretation problem needs to be addressed or such anomolies may lead to the American football scenario with multiple umpires on the field and a coaches right to appeal decisions. Think about it; we are part of the way down that route already. What is a TMO, other than an umpire? Perhaps someone more informed than I could explain just what the rules are for the intervention of the TMO, because some seem to intervene more readily than others.

  22. Not entirely the place, but since it doesn’t have its own thread….

    Commonwealth games sevens has been cracking so far, some great games. Women’s Kenya vs SA was nail-biting.

    Scotland had a comfortable win over PNG – no real threat. Some nice play but a few errors, hopefully will settle us for the bigger games to come.

  23. Thought Glasgow played very well in the first half and looked incisive for the first time in a while.The passing through the backs was then best I’ve seen for a long while. The second half was a bit worrying. Connacht pinned Glasgow in their own 22 for large parts of the half, and Glasgow forwards seemed unable to impose any kind of ‘go forward’ and had to accept second best. This is exactly the kind of tactics the opposition (Leinster, Munster, Scarlets) will try to impose on Glasgow from the start of games, and we don’t seem to have an answer to it. That said, it is difficult to keep the same pressure up when the game is won. Thought our backs, particularly the centres, played very well and won the game for us.

    1. It is hard to keep the pressure on when the game is won and the play off at home secured. Minds turn to staying fit and able for the semis and finals. The self preservation mode takes over. The passing in first half was excellent but Connaught sat back and allowed it, AKI should have done better.The Scarletts for example would have been up and among it.Like they did last week when Price gifted his man an interception yet again and cost his side the match.Now you have got me started yet again , I am on a rant, grrrrrr.

    2. The pack did look a bit porous in the 2nd half but difficult when your 2 first choice locks are off the park by half time. Harley’s a good utility player but not a 2nd row scrumaging specialist. Also thought some of the decisions at the break-down were bizarre and these led to Glasgow leaving most rucks uncontested. Will definitely need a bit more fire up front in the knock-out stages but at least job done for now.

  24. I thought Edinburgh did very well against Scarlets. OK they sent a weakened team, but I don’t think they expected to be put to the sword like that. And Duncan Wier yet again showed his new self. The Edinburgh Glasgow game should be interesting.

  25. For me Glasgow started to struggle when both locks went off injured. Cummings and Gray looked good but they lost go forward especially when Gray went off and Harley went to the 2nd row. It was a bit of a mixed up back 5 of the scrum after that. Brown going off didn’t help either. Hopefully none of the injuries are serious as we’ll need these guys for the end of the season. We’re getting a bit thin on the ground if there are any more injuries in some positions.

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