Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


PRO14: Semi Final Glasgow v Scarlets

Stuart Hogg and DTH Van Der Merwe
Stuart Hogg and DTH Van Der Merwe - pic © Al Ross

It feels a bit like the season has already ended (it has for Edinburgh) but after a break of a few weeks Glasgow are back in action for the knockout stages.

Watching Glasgow this season has been a tortuous affair, but most of all the abiding emotion is frustration. Let’s not forget they went on a record-breaking win streak at the start of the campaign and some of the performances put together (Cheetahs away springs to mind) were top drawer.

There still remains a slight suspicion that Rennie has had problems adapting his style to Glasgow, as well as perhaps ironically trying to curb their exuberance for the all-court game slightly and get them to tone things down and play directly when required. The stats are suitably schizophrenic: 10/10 home wins this season, yet they’ve lost 3 out of the last 4 played.

Worries about “which Glasgow will turn up” aside, they still remain a team with frighteningly good counter-attacking abilities and an international-quality backline.

The same, of course, could be said of the Scarlets who also have had more success in this season’s crunch games be they in Europe (reaching the Champions Cup semi) or top tier clashes outside of international windows; they were the first team to win an away semi-final on their way to becoming champions last year. They also boast Scotland’s captain John Barclay in their ranks at Number 8, and the former Killer B will have no compunction about extending his farewell to Wales by another week.

The visitors are without Leigh Halfpenny which could have an impact if John Lacey’s whistle is involved too much but both sides are stacked with internationals.

Glasgow’s selection might raise a few eyebrows, especially in midfield with Sam Johnson and Nick Grigg the chosen pairing. However, it would do them a disservice not to point out that they were at the heart of Glasgow’s efforts when they were going well and deserve to be playing. George Horne is another who is on fine form but it means Ali Price joins Alex Dunbar and Huw Jones on the list of regular Scotland starters who haven’t even made the squad. Also absent is Niko Matawalu – could the lack of a real game breaker like him on the bench prove crucial or can Ruaridh Jackson step up to the plate as he has done all season?

The Warriors pack looks strong and pretty settled now with Fagerson/Gibbins/Wilson the current favourite back row. If there is a weak spot, it could be the Harley/Fusaro/Pyrgos group on the bench and no dedicated locks, but they don’t lack for experience certainly.

Scotstoun will be filled with 10,000 fans on Friday with the Warrior Nation roaring them on.

Future Galactico Finn Russell does start his last game at Scotstoun; he’ll be hoping his party continues, and not John Barclay’s.

Glasgow: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, DTH van der Merwe, Finn Russell, George Horne; Jamie Bhatti, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, Jonny Gray, Matt Fagerson, Callum Gibbins, Ryan Wilson (capt).
Replacements: George Turner, Alex Allan, Siua Halanukonuka, Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Henry Pyrgos, Pete Horne, Ruaridh Jackson.

Not available due to injury: Adam Ashe (ankle), Oli Kebble (ankle), Pat MacArthur (shoulder), Leo Sarto (shoulder).

Scarlets: J McNicholl; T Prydie, S Williams, H Parkes, S Evans; R Patchell, G Davies; R Evans, K Owens (capt), S Lee, T Beirne, S Cummins, A Shingler, J Davies, J Barclay.
Replacements: R Elias, W Jones, W Kruger, L Rawlins, W Boyde, J Evans, D Jones, S Hughes.

Friday 18 April, kick off 7.45pm – live on Sky Sports and BBC ALBA.

62 Responses

  1. Really strong looking Warriors squad named. Bit surprised not to see Niko among the replacements, and it’s a testament to Price’s fall from grace that he’s not listed. Hope he recovers his form – he was outstanding last year. Really looking forward to the back row battle and hoping for some scintillating tries. If Warriors can put together an 80-minute performance, they should win this, but we’ve only seen 40 or so this year… C’mon lads!

  2. Price should regain his best game at Edinburgh next season, it’s bad when Pyrgos is getting picked ahead of you. Dunbar on the other hand, can’t see him getting many more Scotland caps. There is increasingly strong competition in the center and he hasn’t looked the same player since his ACL. He’s hardly played this year which is a shame.

  3. Mostly team i would have expected apart from Dunbar not in, but can’t really argue with Johnson / Grigg. Good to see Rennie backing G Horne for the big games.

    Anyone know what happened to big Brian Alainu’uese? Presume he was injured then couldn’t get back in… but given his form 2nd half of last season and our clear lack of big ball carriers, a bit surprising not to see him more regularly (or instead of Harley as 2nd row replacement)

  4. I get that Scarlets did well in Europe, but Glasgow were in the toughest group by far and only Leinster (eventual winners) schooled us. We pushed Montpellier (best team in Top14) close in both games and we were close to Exeter (top team in Aviva) at Sandy Park too.

    If “good” Glasgow turn up then there will only be one winner, otherwise it could go either way.

    I hope Finn has a belter for his last home game though.

    1. I also don’t think the October scheduling did any favours at all. That away trip to the Cheetahs, where everyone was dead on their feet, clinging on the winning record with an injury ravaged team, only a few days to play Exeter (should have won) and then Leinster was a killer. We were then two games down in Europe, with a must win at home, where we played with 2 yellows during the crucial patch, having been ahead (as we were in all European games). Could all so easily have gone differently. I think the Pro 14 has been great with the SA aspect, but undoubtedly affected Glasgow’s European chances this season. At least we had Leinster at home, Wales away and Ireland away – for Rennie / GT to learn from this year…

  5. Looking at the form of both teams this year; and if both play well, then Scarlets have the tools to win this . Home advantage might get Glasgow over the line, but there are too many areas in the pack where I don’t think we can match them. Our front row isn’t as good/experienced yet, so will need to have big games to match their front 3.
    The speed at the breakdown for Scarlets could also kill us. We have a very good back row, but they’re not the quickest to the breakdown, and Barclay and Davies will need to be hammered immediately and often to get them off the ball. Really looking forward to it and thin it will be close.

  6. Good luck to the Warriors tomorrow night. Would love to see any kind of positive result against the Scarlets; followed by, well, any kind of positive result in the final.
    No disrespect to Ali Price, but I’m pleased to see George Horne get a start in such an important game.
    Can’t see Barclay taking many prisoners in what could be his last game for a club he’s served so well in recent seasons. Should be a real battle at the breakdown, but hoping the whole Glasgow pack can do themselves justice.
    With something like equality up front tomorrow, it’s set for harum scarum behind, which I believe Glasgow can edge.

  7. Won’t add much as most of the points I could make have already been mentioned. But I can see us coming a distant second at the breakdown. That could make life difficult. Hope Wilson is at his annoying best at the bottom of as many rucks as possible. But we’ll always have a puncher’s chance with that backline.

  8. A bit nervous about the pack replacements – the scrum seems to take a bit of a dip when a non-specialist lock is introduced. Seems strange when there are the likes of Big Brian, Cummings, Petersen who could add some real ballast.
    Also hope Rennie’s got the selection right at centre – Johnson and Grigg both good players and no problem with them starting but to think that 3 key midfielders for Scotland in the 6N in the likes of P Horne, Dunbar and Jones aren’t in the starting 15, something’s not quite clicking at Glasgow. Here’s hoping it all goes well tonight and Nick Grigg produces one of those human cannonball performances he can deliver so well.

  9. Absolutely terrible from Warriors and Lacey so far. Horne has been the only thing stopping a BP so far.

  10. Why hasn’t a single decision been reviewed by the TMO. Lacey is consistently missing things. Listening to the welsh commentary and it’s killing me, never any suggestion of Scarlets wrong doing. Glasgow not playing well but getting murdered by the officials too.

      1. Really horrible officiating. Reality is though, it’s not the main reason Glasgow are 25 behind.

  11. Horne off at half-time? Then a knock on from kickoff? Second half is going to be a long haul…

  12. Oh dear. Rennie and his ‘boys’ being schooled big time. The wheels have well and truly come off the Warrior bandwagon. Team has lost its sense of direction and purpose. Have to agree with Cockerill that one of the Glasgow scrum-halves; Price for me; has to head east. Evidence that a comfort zone is beginning to appear at Scotstoun.

  13. I am convinced after this referee performance that lacey is either being bribed or has some deep deep hatred for scottish people. I’d rather have Craig Joubert back at least he felt bad for his officiating, this plum does it with a grin on his face.

    1. I’m usually quite against any comment on refereeing performance by the coaching staff. Though I hope Rennie makes a nod towards some of Lacey’s decision making post match.

  14. First time this clown goes to the Tmo – 72 minutes in once the game is dead, fk this guy.
    shakes there number 2’s hand before the game has ended.

    Its not the amount of mistakes that is that ticks me off, it is once again that he is not consistent to both sides with it.

    Really feel for Glasgow, hard to have a good mindset when they know this baboon has it in for them.

  15. Scarlets the better team and most likely would have won anyway but god John Lacey is an embarrassment. I swear he just picks which ever team looks like winning after ten minutes and then gives them all the 50/50 decisions. Let Scarlets constantly be offside all game and whistled Glasgow for everything. I’m not surprised Wilson, Brown and some of the other senior Glasgow guys looked baffled.

    Assumed I would root for Scarlets in the final if Glasgow lost (because of Barclay) but this leaves a very sour taste.

    [On the bright side George Horne was excellent, can’t wait to see what he can do for Scotland in a few weeks]

  16. Fair play to scarlets they were probaly the better team overall (finishing)


  17. Scarlets were the better side for 50 minutes, and we were a distant second for those 50. That said, I’m aggrieved by Lacey. Ignoring his usual nonsense, he ruled out a try at the end of the first half dubiously, awarded Owens’ try without a clear grounding, incorrectly ruled out Gray’s try, didn’t penalise Scarlets playing the 9, didn’t give Scarlets a deserved yellow, got that restart wrong, allowed Scarlets offside almost constantly, messed up the breakdown decisions… but, crucially, had we won I think it would have glossed over some pretty glaring weaknesses. Also, who’s strategy was it to give Scarlets so much possession through kicking. Disappointing that we’ve regressed, but hopefully Rennie will sort this out over the summer.

    Scarlets were simply better, though. More organised, more composed, more determined… overall they were better coached and deserved the win.

  18. Glasgow did not really deserve to win but when your playing 15 players and the referee the task is impossible. Lacey was extremely poor and made as many mistakes as Glasgow, Rennie has work to do before next season as some players think turning up is enough to win.

  19. The IRB’s failure to address differences in the interpretation of the rules of the game by match officials is making them look as shambolic as FIFA. I acknowledge that rugby is a tricky game to referee, but if a game is decided on assumptions then its result and rugby in general loses credibility.

  20. Glasgow tried to play like Harlem Globetrotters from the start. Not sure what Rennie is coaching. We have to mix it up and earn the right to go wide. Agree with comments about George Horne. He was excellent but so many Glasgow players never fired a shot. Nick Grigg, Finn and Fraser Brown got absolutely done for their tries. What a tame end to the season.

  21. So disappointed in that performance by Glasgow. They really let themselves and the fans down tonight. I don’t think there is another team in the Pro 14 that loses the ball so often in the tackle. The ‘butterfingered’ way they continually give the ball away is becoming constant and embarrassing. Thought Glasgow were flat and ‘not up for it’ tonight, and were outfought right from the start. The back row and forwards were completely outplayed, and far too slow to get to the breakdown. Patchell running around Grigg for the first try set the tone for the rest of the game. Player for player, each of them lost the battle against their opposite number tonight, apart from The only exception being George Horne. I’m now questioning Rennie’s tactical ability, as tonight was really abject. I accept that Clancy had an unacceptable one sided shocker, but Glasgow were so bad, they would still have lost the match without him reffing

    1. Nah, we were bossing the rucks, and overrunning theirs. The forwards did not lose the game tonight, a few moments of soft defence did. Well, and literally every 50/50 call (and some 100/0 calls…) going against us.

  22. Last time around…..Scarlets 26 Glasgow 8….this time 28 v 13. Lacey was bogsh*te, Clancy (ref last time) was poor too, probably, but ultimately it’s consistent and predictable.

    Scarlets are better than Glasgow.

    Referees are poor and inconsistent…but Glasgow don’t play ref-smart at all. Stupid wee obvious things like Grigg’s kick.

    Whatever it takes? Or whatever they feel like?

  23. In hindsight no Hogg, Sarto, Jones, Dunbar, Niko made it difficult. Glasgow made so many mistakes, the line-out overthrow, the missed tackles, the senseless kicks, loosing the ball in contact. Patchell was excellent tonight, Russell tried to force it from the off – he did a several good things but…….. Scarlets were streetwise, well coached & clinical. Glasgow need to make 3 or 4 top signings. Some of the refereeing decisions were “interesting” but Scarlets were simply much better. Finally good point by pragmatic optomist re Patchell’s try & Grigg. (never been convinced that Grigg is a starter at highest level)

    1. I dont think Hogg Sarto Jones or Niko would have improved defence, which aside from the penalty count was the difference. Dunbar yes. Hogg might have helped the kicking “battle” which Patchell won by a country mile. His kicks were exceptional..

      1. I think that Hogg would have made more of the possession that Jacko got, and would have been a bit more leadery in the backs (as well as gaining more metres from kicks). I also think that while Jones is a good wing, bringing Sarto or Niko on in the last 30 would have had far more of an impact and provided a bit more line-breaking X-factor.

  24. Scarlets are a very good team and we’re not the first to be embarrassed by them.

    I think the glaring problems were in defence, and some weak first up tackling that let Scarlets get behind our line from nothing, and our inability to slow Scarlets attack at the breakdown.

    I’d really like to see Rennie bring in a new forward coach – I think our pack is punching below its weight at the moment. Unfortunately Scotland will be on the hunt at the same time and presumably take precedence.

    G Horne is very good but needs to do a lot of work in his kicking. I’m not sure Grigg is good enough for our biggest games and still has a way to go. Hopefully the rest does Huw Jones some good.

    Next year will be interesting. Rennie will have had an off season to really put his stamp on the side, but with a new FH in place to replace Russell who knows how it’ll pan out. Hastings is going to have to grow up fast as I don’t think Horne is good enough for the biggest games. Glasgow might keep bumping on that glass ceiling, consistently being the 4th best team in the league. Unless Edinburgh build on this seasons progress…

  25. Agree with you about a forwards coach at Glasgow FF. Humphreys doesn’t do it for me, so I hope he can be bought out of his contract and replaced this summer. I don’t think we can afford to wait until his contract ends.
    On the positive side, both the Leinster and Scarlets front rows are gnarled experienced vets who won’t really improve much. Fagerson,Kebble, Turner and Bhatti are much younger, have hd some experience, and will get much better. The lack of any big ball carriers is still a big concern when we need to play a’grunt rugby’ against the top teams, particularly as we’ve had Big Brian and Peterson available and have still not used them. Unless Glasgow sign a couple I’ll be worried about next year.
    I’m not letting Rennie off the hook as many are, by saying it’s a transitional season. Glasgow’s decision making about when to offload and issues at the breakdown (turnovers) have been apparent all year, and he appears to have done nothing about the discipline needed to deal with this (Scarlets offload just as much but make better decisions). As the coach, he’s the one who needs to motivate the players and make sure they’re at the peak for the ‘championship games’, which he’s signally failed to do.
    As for Edinburgh, I think they’ve moved ahead of Glasgow in the forwards, but the backs are largely ‘not proven’. Edinburgh will be the top Scottish side next year in my view, unless Rennie deals with some of the issues.

    1. The thing is, we were making loads of ground playing ‘grunt rugby’ throughout the game, but we changed tack at the wrong point – too late in the the first have when there was a huge overlap out wide, too early in the second when we were making loads of ground. Or there was a knock on, or a farcical ‘holding on’ penalty or something…

      1. In fact, stats-wise, our forwards made 50% more metres per carry than theirs. Much as I’m disinclined towards Humphreys, it looks like it was the backs who ‘lost’ the game (if there is such a thing in rugby).

      2. I didn’t think we were as bad in possession as some have made out. Difference was respective defences – Scarlets scores just about every time they got behind us whereas we did well to break their defence but didn’t finish them off – I think they did well to scramble and slow down ruck ball. Also 5m lineouts were abysmal. I actually don’t think we are a million miles off but expectations at Scotstoun are understandably high.

        Leinster really are a class above though – Scarlets will do well to avoid another humping.

  26. I wish I could change my name to something more positive. This was a tough ask for Glasga and the better side won.

  27. I have posted before about the drop off since McFarland left for the national job. I understand the Welsh did not rate Humphreys as a forwards coach and I think our setpiece is not what it should be. The biggest problem towards the end of the season has been that many of the players we would have thought of as our best (eg Dunbar, Jones, Price, Russell, Wilson) have either not played in the run in or have been off the boil or a bit of both. We look less than the sum of our parts.
    I suspect a few fans are wondering about coaching – this group of players should be better. We did far better this year when the internationals were on but the re-integration of the international players has not worked well for us. There are a huge number with contracts that end in May19 (including Rennie, I think) so there will be all sorts of pressures next season.

  28. Weirdly, stats-wise, that’s a game we should have won: More possession and territory; more clean breaks and defenders beaten; more offloads; more rucks won; fewer turnovers conceded(!); many more metres made (although per carry it averaged out at half a metre less). Yes, we lost one of each of the set pieces, and missed 1/5 tackles (compared to Scarlets’ 1/6), but we still should have been in the game. I think it’s worth noting how anonymous Ryan Wilson was, aside from his ‘quickest penalty in the west’ routine. Two carries for two metres ain’t great for a no. 8 (I think CdP managed two for four against Wales) and missing 1/4 tackles is pretty pants, too. Personally, I think we’d have done better with a back row of Gibbins, Smith and Fagerson, but I’m not convinced it would have won us the game by any stretch. Also interesting that our top tacklers were Finn and The Nuke.

    I hope Rennie and co. learn from this, but the appear not to have learned from any of the other big games we’ve lost this season, so I won’t hold my breath.

  29. A very disappointing game. Better team won with Scarlets looking much more dangerous with any sniff of an opportunity and Glasgow undermining their own efforts with errors. The Pro12 winning Glasgow side were characterised by a very stingy, fast and aggressive defence and an electric ruthlessness with exploiting opportunities. These qualities were much diminished in last night’s performance. I have been slightly bewildered with Glasgow and how they managed to finish in such a lofty position given their performances since around mid-season, where I don’t remembering watching a single particularly compelling game. I do think big Naks was a big loss, but there is still a heap of quality in the side. Hopefully the restructuring around the loss of Russell won’t be too much of a blow and they will go one further next year – to meet Edinburgh in the final ;-)
    PS – apologies to all Glasgow fans: I forgot to wear my lucky pants and therefore may have unintentionally contributed to the poor performance.

  30. May be controversial but if i were Rennie i would be signing Grobler and Jackson, 2 players with some bad history ( not bad people imo) who he will get on the cheap but will add huge impact to the squad. people forget about what has happened in the past once they start improving the team imo

    1. Totally disagree, would rather finish last in the league than sacrifice our values.

      1. You say that but Jackson was proven innocent and grobler done his time (what 5 years or somthing by now + abuse he has gotten ) after making a stupid mistake, and some glasgow players are not excactly innocent of mistakes in the past either.

        I do not see it as sacrificing our values to be honest. We need a class 10 to challenge in europe and later stages of pro14, and we need a second row that can actually ball carry to take us past the gain line, Gray is our next best option at ball carrying atm which says it all.

        Since when did people not get a second chance ?

      2. Jackson was found not guilty…this does not equal proved innocent. The fans know how they feel (see Sale backpedal) and will respond.

        Grobler for me is just meh…plenty better players out there.

      3. Jackson was let go for a reason, ‘bringing the game into disrepute’. Putting aside the court case and whatsapp messages, if you’re looking at it from a purely financial side then I’m sure the money you lost in sponsorship (and possible lost revenue from fans) would more than outweigh any ‘savings’ made from taking the player on the cheap.

      4. Agree absolutely. My kids (including daughters) have all been through age groups sports (including rugby)
        I could not have looked them in the eye if any club they were associated with tolerated or espoused the values expressed by Jackson and his associates. Not in a million years.

  31. We were off the pace in that 1st half & you do wonder whether the 3 weeks off helped. Came into the game with no momentum after early qualification. As others have said, next year will be interesting. Defence used to be a strength, now its a definite weakness. Our set piece used to be half decent, now its distinctly average. We used to have no problem making the hard yards, now I can’t see where that’ll come from.

    I would move Humphreys on & bring in a quality forwards coach. I would also bring in a top 10 to replace Finn together with an 8 that will give us go forward & a 2nd row with some beef. It’s been all quiet on the ‘signings’ front at Scotstoun so far. Rennie will have massive respect from down under. Surely he can see the gaps that we all do.

    1. Thing is, we conceded the fewest tries in the league. It’s a weird season.

      1. Agree a very strange season…I daresay last August most would have said losing a semi to the defending champs is fine.

        And yet we are (mostly) a bit disappointed.

        Fact is Glasgow lost pretty much every “big” game, from the 1872 to Europe to the semi.

        All hard games to win, but it all feels a bit premiocre.

        Hoping for a truly great season next year!

      2. Yeah, I think it’s not so much the performance in terms of league position that’s disappointing, more the manner of the performances in the big games. Also, as KenScot observes, Rennie’s apparent inability to get good performances out of some of the Scotland team’s best players.

  32. After having calmed down and reflected on the performance of lacey and my comments, i have made the realisation.

    LACEY NEEDS TO BE SACKED! Biased piece of $#!¥ this is totally unacceptable, leave corruption with football and Fifa dont bring it to Rugby.

  33. Blade Thomson quoted as sayi he turned down glasgsow to choose Scarlets – but has said he does have ambitions to play test rugby for Scotland.

    Pretty handy from a Scotland perspective.

  34. Was it not the lurid, distasteful online “conversations” that were deemed the worst of Jackson’s misdemeanors? No way should Glasgow go anywhere near him…..Neil appears to have been at the catnip all weekend again. #having calmed down……

  35. I am baffled how Glasgow are playing at the moment. This frenetically quick style of play can work, but surely only if you tie up an opposition player or three at the ruck? How many rucks in this game did Glasgow have 3 players in that the Scarlets hadn’t many players too? No wonder the Scarlets defence looked so solid, they regularly had a man or two spare in defence! Am I just being naïve here, or should Glasgow be looking at trying to go through the middle a bit more before going out wide?

  36. Agree with much of what’s been commented on here already. With 2 wins from 10 games from Europe / Edinburgh / Play-off, it’s not been a great season. Rennie definitely deserves 2nd season to put his own stamp on things and get it right… but a couple of concerns i’ve been pondering (sorry for long post!)

    1. Are Glasgow spreading their resources too thin? They probably have the best squad in aggregate in the Pro14, with a pretty huge amount of depth in some areas (and i do understand that this is needed for our almost unique number of international call-ups), but is this at the expense of more concentrated quality – particularly in the pack? Our strength in depth is why we coasted the league position, but not quite the quality we need in the big games.

    2. Why can’t Rennie get the best out of ANY of Glasgow’s ‘big’ players? While Z Fagerson and J Gray have had decent enough seasons and a couple of really great games, i wouldn’t say they’ve regularly hit the heights. After that it goes downhill quickly – Russel and Price have been off-colour all season, Hogg hasn’t played enough but hasn’t been great when he has, Seymour has been dire as has Huw Jones, Dunbar and Swinson have struggled for best form. While the youngsters have thrived, and there’s various reasons for the above players poor form (injury, straight from super rugby, etc) it’s a bit strange that none of these guys have had particularly good seasons.

  37. On the one hand Rennie will get his head around the team and it’s only his first season but on the other we saw a culmination of issues which were identifiable right at the beginning of the season and that has to be cause for concern.
    When Glasgow won the league they didn’t have a massive pack but they had a couple of go to players in Strauss and Nakarawa who could mix it and the rest of them were properly drilled and physical. We need that if we’re going to compete.

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