Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


PRO14 Round 19: Teams for the Weekend

Edinburgh v Munster
Edinburgh Rugby vs Munster in the European Rugby Champions Cup Quarter Final at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Glasgow Warriors v Ulster Rugby

Date: Fri 5th April 2019
KO: 19:35
Venue: Scotstoun Stadium

Glasgow begin their end-of-season run in with a tricky fixture at home to Ulster, led by former Warriors and Scotland forwards coach Dan McFarland. For the Warriors lads it will be one of a few remaining chances to work with/impress current skills coach Mike Blair who is switching to work full time with the national setup from the end of the season.

Fresh from giving me all sorts of headaches picking a World Cup squad, Tommy Seymour is back from his recent rib injury and starts in a re-jigged (and handy looking) backline that sees rising star Kyle Steyn playing at outside centre. It looks like a useful unit despite the number of first or second choices on the injured list.

After sitting on the bench for the big European game, Jonny Gray moves back into the starting lineup for his 100th Glasgow appearance. After many injury problems, the front three is starting to look settled with an unchanged unit for the third game in a row.

Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Kyle Steyn, Sam Johnson, Nikola Matawalu, Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Rob Harley, Jonny Gray, Adam Ashe, Chris Fusaro (capt), Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: Grant Stewart, Jamie Bhatti, Siua Halanukonuka, Scott Cummings, David Tameilau, George Horne, Pete Horne, Robbie Nairn,

Ulster Rugby: Michael Lowry, Rob Lyttle, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, John Cooney, Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.
Replacements: John Andrew, Andy Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Ian Nagle, Marcus Rea, Dave Shanahan, Darren Cave, Angus Kernohan.

Referee: Stuart Berry (SARU)

Unavailable players: Callum Gibbins (head), Nick Grigg (ankle), Huw Jones (knee), Lee Jones (knee), D’arcy Rae (ankle), Matt Smith (shoulder), Tim Swinson (ankle), George Turner (head), DTH van der Merwe (shoulder) and Ryan Wilson (knee).

Scarlets v Edinburgh Rugby

Date: Sat 6th April 2019
KO: 18:45
Venue: Parc y Scarlets

Mark Bennett is the only change from the Edinburgh starting XV that narrowly lost to Munster last weekend as Edinburgh go to Llanelli seeking a win that keeps them on track for a playoff spot. It may well need to be the top team from here on in, and Richard Cockerill has selected accordingly.

Matt Scott, Callum Hunter-Hill and Rory Sutherland come on to a still impressive bench meaning no Jamie Ritchie or Allan Dell (possibly rested).

For the opposition there is no Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (loan to Quins) or Blade Thomson (concussion) for the home team, but it will be a first return to Parc Y Scarlets for John Barclay. He’ll face down a team heavy on Welsh internationals and it’ll be no mean feat to turn them over.

Scarlets: Leigh Halfpenny; Johnny McNicholl, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Steff Evans; Dan Jones, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Ken Owens (capt), Samson Lee, Lewis Rawlins, Steve Cummins, Will Boyde, James Davies, Uzair Cassiem.
Replacements: Marc Jones, Wyn Jones, Werner Kruger, Josh Helps, Josh Macleod, Kieran Hardy, Kieron Fonotia, Ioan Nicholas.

Edinburgh Rugby: Darcy Graham, Damien Hoyland, Mark Bennett, Chris Dean, Duhan van der Merwe, Jaco van der Walt, Henry Pyrgos; Pierre Schoeman, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, John Barclay, Hamish Watson, Viliame Mata.
Replacements: Ross Ford, Rory Sutherland, Simon Berghan, Callum Hunter-Hill, Magnus Bradbury, Charlie Shiel, Simon Hickey, Matt Scott.

Referee: George Clancy

62 Responses

  1. How good was Jonny Gray?! Dominant carries and tackles, lineout steals, cheeky offloads… That’s what we want to see, Jonny! Tommy looked much better, too. Great in defence and in the air. Thought Matawalu, Hogg, Brown, both Fagersons and Johnson were very good, too. Stuart Berry was pretty rubbish, but we expect that of him.

    1. Excellent performance from Glasgow tovifgt and Best performance from Gray for a long while, Dropping him brought out a very positive reaction. Great so see a Scottish side so competitive at lineout on opposition throw. Actually thought it was one of Stuart Berrys better performances… which likely shows how bad the majority of them have been!

      1. Always enjoy Berry’s “TMO – you’ve got an HD screen – you decide” cop out. But I agree he wasn’t so bad tonight, although when it’s a big win for the team you’re supporting, the ref is never such a big deal.

    2. Jonny Gray was excellent tonight to celebrate his 100th cap, just a shame he chooses not to deliver those kind of performances in the big games or regularly.

    3. Oh come on , let’s give the ref a break. I think the Hastings deliberate knock on and Stockdale take out in the air might have been cards with another referee. We did alright this evening and he did try and keep things going.I think he is just a bit more laid back than some.

      I think Ulster fans might be justified in a gripe , but the referee never lost them this game , they did that all by themselves.

      The Ulster lads were very respectful of the referee despite a few close calls. I noticed and respect the way the conducted themselves , Rory Best would have been a moaning pest if playing tonight.

      They were unlucky with the try and Seymour must be credited with stopping that one as should Fusaro on the Marshall no try.

      Great game, great win, good to see Zander on the score card.

      Glasgow were fast this eveining . Lets hope we are coming onto our best form now.

      1. He was poor for both teams, and I think cards for either of those incidents would have been harsh, especially Johnson. But you’re right: he didn’t affect the outcome of the game, so maybe I should cut him some slack.

        Ulster put in a very Scottish performance, I thought – they left several tries out there, lacked composure and their line out was poor. I was really surprised about their set piece: I expected a MacFarlane-coached side to be immaculate in that regard. Presumably they really missed Henderson (whom I consider their best player) and bellyaching Best.

        I don’t fancy our chances of winning the next two matches, and I don’t fancy Munster’s chances of losing their next two, so if we do get to the final we’ll most likely have to do it the hard way. If the pack keep up that level of performance (hopefully Kebble isn’t seriously injured) then I think we can do it. But ‘if’ though.

      2. Bhatti is not Kebble however I think he has come on a lot based on last nights performance. Kebble is a bit high maintenance on the penalty count so every cloud has a silver lining.

        I think we need to stop lauding individuals , our days of depending on one or two men have gone. If I take hooker as an example , even third choice Stewart is adequate.

        Yes, I do already feel the loss of Hogg next season , however I dont doubt we will cope .

        If the speed of play last night is maintained , Glasgow will be feared , especially at home on our surface.

      3. Without Hogg Glasgow’s entire back 3 is not going to match its pro-14 title rivals and needs strengthening.

      4. Bhatti looked more like last season’s vintage, which is great to see. Hopefully he’s over his slump. I take your point about relying on individuals, but I think there are certain players without whom we suffer – Hastings, Kebble, Hogg – although I think the overall standard of our squad is higher now. In fact, I’m actually more confident in our ‘seconds’!

        To be fair, there’s no club team in the world who wouldn’t feel the loss of Hogg, and, of the international sides, only the ABs would be able to sustain their standards in his absence. But, if we can get and keep guys like vdM, McDowall, Johnson, Hastings, Grigg, Matawalu, Seymour et al. fit then we have plenty of attacking threat, and if our forwards match or exceed the intensity they’ve shown in several games this season (Munster, Sarries and Ulster at Scotstoun, for example), then we can be contenders still.

      5. FF: Not disputing that , I am sure Rennie is aware of that, he is paid , paid to know, paid to know how, to shape his team.

        No one man can fill Hogg’s shoes but my point is there is now headroom for others to emerge. Hogg by name only !! Cannot be more blunt than that .

        Glasgow Warriors is much, much bigger than one man.

  2. Agree re (the above) about J Gray, stealing line-outs, aggressive/explosive in the tackle & in the carry. What a difference. Has someone said “up your game or you’ll be on a plane to Benidorm rather than Japan come September?” Seymour, Hogg, front row guys very good to. I thought Kyle Steyn was excellent, good lines, good chase, big lad, turnovers. What a signing Sam Johnson has been.

    1. Just adding in light of the above , Steyn was excellent but we also have McDowall, no shortage of talent. Who would have thought anyone could replace Alex Dunbar and he was a cut above any on these islands, yet we have many options now including the fan’s aunt sally ‘Huw Jones’ (Unfair as we are) a Currie Cup winner whom I have no doubt will flourish yet again, probably when Hogg leaves and there is some room for him to fill the gap.

  3. Looking at the table, doesn’t look likely Glasgow will finish top AND Edinburgh qualify for Europe and play-offs. If you assume Edinburgh beat Scarlets and Ulster I expect they’ll still need a win in the final game to go through.

    Assuming best case scenario where Munster drop points away to Benetton, Glasgow will need to beat Leinster away OR need to beat Edinburgh in the final game for top spot.

    Hopefully Leinster and Munster will protect players ahead of Europe QF and put out weakened teams.

    If Glasgow do beat Leinster, we need Edinburgh to once again prevail over their rivals in the regular season finale to see both teams get what they need. Dare I say in this scenario Glasgow might be tempted to rest a few key personnel?

    1. I think the SRU will tempted to ask Glasgow to rest personnel, but isn’t that against the spirit of the game? Is it any better than Beirne diving? I guess it’s certainly the utilitarian approach… Even if Edinburgh need to play for the 7th Champions’ Cup place, I have faith that Cockers and that pack can beat Blues or Connacht away from Murrayfield (much as I do like both those teams) as long as they actually take advantage of the space their forwards have created, which is what they failed to do against Munster.

      1. Teams play weakened sides against full sides throughout the season for various reasons. I think if Glasgow don’t need the points it’s justifiable to rest players providing those on the pitch give it their all.

        Not expecting a full Leinster squad away to Ulster in the final game for example.

      2. True – and I hope that Leinster put out a weakened squad against us – but there’s a difference between resting your players for a big upcoming game and resting your players to give a team owned by the same union an easier task. And we will most likely still have a home semi to play for at that point, given that Munster have an easier run in. If an Irish team with something to play for rested key players to give another Irish team more chance of success, I’d be pretty annoyed.

      3. Teamcam – if we beat Leinster next week and Munster lose to Benetton away, Glasgow will secure top place before the last round.

      4. The bigger issue that even if Glasgow secure top spot next weekend it’s then 34 days until the playoff semi so Rennie would probably want to keep players ticking over.

        Sadly I think the most likely outcome is Glasgow and Edinburgh both needing wins with the possibility that Edinburgh winning will see them back at Scotstoun for the QF.

        The interesting question is what sort of team will Munster send to Italy. If they leave their internationals at home to focus on Sarries Treviso should be favourites. If they are being realistic they will expect to be drubbed in England might go out all out for a home semi.

      5. Very fair points SB.

        Van Graan already said Munster will be resting key players ahead of SF.

  4. Think you’re right FF. Need to select players tactically depending on results. Would love to see Glasgow qualified in as in their conference before the final game. Glasgow did the business last night with an intense and sharp performance. It’s Edinburghs turn tonight. Scarlets have all their top players back for he game, so winning away is a big ask. Looking forward to seeing Mark Bennett up against Hadleigh Parkes. Need to get a lead and fight to hold onto it.

    1. Yeah the Scarlets side looks awesome on paper. Edinburgh need to dominate them up front and squeeze them to death. Tbh expect it’ll go the other way but we’ll see.

    2. I expect Edinburgh to keep the ball with the forwards for most of this game, no way they will be looking to expose the scarlets outwide.

  5. What is going on with Edinburgh’s decision-making?! Taking the 3 at that point was madness when their lineout is working so well and, but for some foul play, they were over with the maul! And the kicks in play – just terrible bar one. Cockers has a lot to do at half time.

  6. What a bourach of a first half. The pointless box kicking whilst making good ground attacking is doing me in. How are we going to score if we repeatedly give away the ball?! And the decision making to go for the posts with a 5yrd penalty when they’ve just lost their hooker?! Help ma boab.

  7. Get in there, Embra! Weird to follow the game on a combination of BBC online text updates and Bet365. Latter a boon as I lumped on when 7-0 down at 5/1 (always thought we’d be too strong for them) though bottled it and cashed out for a still decent profit at 12-17.
    And we denied them a losing bonus point too!
    Some consolation for last week’s bitterly disappointing Euro Cup defeat.
    Well done, lads.

  8. Whatever Cockers said at half-time (“stop being idiotic”, I’d imagine) appears to have worked a treat. Gotta be honest, if I were a Scarlets fan I’d be pretty upset at Clancy! Edinburgh absolutely dominated that second half, despite messing up many chances. Darcy Graham is just outstanding. I don’t know who’s my bigger man crush out of him and George Horne, but I can’t wait to see them both playing in the same team in Japan. Finally, if Edinburgh don’t want Jamie Ritchie they should do the decent thing and send him our way!

    1. Scarlets owed their early lead to Clancy due to him getting conned by Rob Evans at the scrum twice. Also both their tries had forward passes.

      Do refs ever watch video? Evans has one trick which is to engage late and move back which somehow wins him penalties every time I see him play. When he is made to scrum legally he gets butchered.

      It’s the same thing with Ken Owens. Unless he can throw straight to his man he is hopeless.

      1. @SB: Yep, he was poor for both, and even I could see the shenanigans Scarlets’ pack were up to! They got away with it against Scotland, too. His touchies seemed to actually educate him, though. The only forward pass he called was one in midfield for Edinburgh… what a muppet! Still think Scarlets took the brunt of his bad decision-making, though.

    2. Also, bit weird of the commentators to be so dismissive of Edinburgh’s only away win this season being at Warriors – no-one else in the Pro14 has managed that this season or last season… And Eddie Butler is a rubbish commentator. He’s biased, ponderous and just witters on offering no insight whatsoever.

      What happened to Scarlets? They looked comfortable for the first half in general, until Edinburgh went for the maul, but then were buoyed by Edinburgh missed the 3-pointer. Soon as Edinburgh smashed them in their first proper scrum, though, they seemed to implode. Great to see mental strength from a Scottish team.

  9. Great second half and result for Edinburgh. Disappointed Leinster retained only 2 of their champions cup team to face Benetton, and they’re currently trailing. Let’s hope Edinburgh’s efforts weren’t in vain as sneaking ahead of Benetton in this round could be crucial.

    1. Gotta be honest, while I know it’s better for Edinburgh if Leinster win, I can’t help but cheer on Treviso!

      1. Nigel Owens with a complete clanger of a decision! Leinster 14 shoulder to the head of Treviso 5, leading to a funky “neck roll” by Treviso 5 (which wasn’t a roll, it was a response and I’m not sure what else he could have done). Owens initially penalises Treviso, the TMO points out that it’s preceded by Leinster foul play, proves it (Owens declines to issue a card for reasons only he understands), then Owens decides that the penalty against Treviso stands and Leinster score off the lineout! What a joke! I’ve never seen a penalty reversed for anything other than retaliatory shenanigans. If it was open play, e.g. an offside, and advantage was being played a concession of a penalty by the team with advantage wouldn’t result in a penalty reversal, right? It would just result in play going back for the advantage. Am I missing something? I do think Owens has been more erratic over the last couple of years; probably for the best that he’s retiring.

      2. No doubt, Treviso deserve to qualify for both play-offs and Europe.

        I hope Ulster lose both remaining matches and slip out the top 3 personally. Can’t see Leinster sending anything but a B-team to Ravenhill on the final day though so you’ve got to expect a home win there.

      3. Totally agree, FF. Given a choice between the two, obviously I want Edinburgh to make it to the play-offs and Champ Cup, but Treviso have been really good this season. Their reaction to Owens’ decision and Leinster’s subsequent score was magnificent and stoic (to be fair part of me suspects Owens was subconsciously balancing that out by allowing their try at the end). I think they attacked for four minutes straight before scoring that try. If they can keep a consistent squad and coaching staff – or even improve – they’ll be a real threat next season.

        It is a bit gutting for Edinburgh, but they have what it takes to beat Ulster and Glasgow.

    2. That draw makes it a hell of a lot harder for Edinburgh to qualify considering Benetton’s final game is away to Zebre, so they have to fancy themselves for a 5 pointer there, even if they are less of a pushover than in previous years.

      Means Glasgow and Edinburgh will be asking for different results in the Benetton v Munster match. Also, very good chance Edinburgh will need to beat Glasgow to reach the play-offs.

  10. Well watched the 1st half but either Prem Ports or my wifi flaked out so i missed the apparently much improved 2nd half. Will have to catch it on playback, but a great result.
    Also find it hard to not wish Benetton well even if we’re in direct competition for the play offs and EC qualification. They’ve brought a huge amount to the competition and it’s helping to blur the mid-table stratum of the league, which makes for good entertainment.

  11. Funny game, 1st half Edinburgh struggled in the scrum, & it looked like the quality in the Scarlet backline & a strangely passive Edinburgh showing would result in a comfortable home victory. However totally dominated the 2nd half, scrum sorted & tackled much more aggressively, superb defence & show very good kicking from VDW allied to the quite remarkable Hamish Watson & Darcy Graham continuing to prove his excellence. Toolis excelled in the line out. Excellent result. Rest of season – I reckon Edinburgh will win both remaining games.

  12. All this who is going to do who a favour stuff is exactly what makes a mockery of the pro14 as a league. It is now more competitive so I think the organisers have to move the home country games from the end of the season. It doesn’t matter what happens there is bound to be comments that X played a weakened team against ‘local rivals’ Y, or X was already through and did their neighbours a favour, or x had nothing to play for and helped their mates out.

    I think this harks bark to a yearned for amateurism in some quarters. Glasgow should put out their best side and try to beat Edinburgh as Edinburgh are the dominant side in these games over the past two or three years. If Edinburgh are good enough they will win (and if they are good enough they wouldn’t need a favour from anyone).End of story.

  13. Great win for Edinburgh against a very strong Scarlets side. Had Scarlets won last night they’d have been favourites to go through. Thought Toolis was very good in the lineout, with Hamish and Darcy looking imperious.
    Now it’s about this Friday. Benetton v Munster and Edinburgh v Ulster, and Leinster v Glasgow on Saturday. It’ll be interesting to see the teams put out by Munster and Leinster with the Euro SF coming up. I just can’t see Munster fielding a weakened team considering their position. Leinster might.
    A tense couple of days in store.

      1. Understandable: they’re in the CC next year regardless and winning that is a greater prize than winning the Pro14. Of course it could just be a ruse…

      2. Still means Benetton have played Leinster B team and a weakened Munster in their run in. Not to mention playing Zebre three times in the season, compared to us playing Glasgow three times. But unsatisfactory really.

      3. Edinburgh played a weakened Leinster and hopefully Glasgow will too, but I take your point. I wonder if it would be possible for the Pro14 to prescribe a minimum strength team somehow, e.g. at least 5 first-choice players in the starting XV or something.

    1. Besides Kinghorn i think thats cockerills full first choice side.

      Personally i would have Dell & Bradbury starting over Schoeman & Barclay atm but a great position to be in coming to the end of the season.

  14. To be honest, we can complain all we like about various advantages/disadvantages, but Edinburgh lost by 1 pt to Ulster back in round 2, and Benneton in round 17. Reverse either of those, and we are solidly in the top 3. Reverse both and clear in 2nd.

    Edinburgh are 4th because they have failed to beat their direct competitors…

    1. I don’t disagree with that, though our losses to southern kings and dragons were perhaps as egregious. However, given the discussion above, my point is just that if Glasgow have secured top spot before the last round (which will happen if Benetton beat Munster and Glasgow beat leinster, as Glasgow will then have a 6pt lead minimum) then I think it would be ok for Glasgow to rest leading players in what would be a dead rubber against edinburgh. It would in fact be in line with how other teams have used their squads throughout the season.

      1. FF…I am an Edinburgh man, so I’d like to see Benetton lose, Edinburgh win, leaving us a bit of a buffer…good for the ’72, got both teams in Champions Cup.

        Munster losing is good for Glasgow, especially if they win, but it does leave Edinburgh exposed.

        In any case I guess what will be will be.

      2. Alanyst – don’t think Edinburgh can secure CC next round. It’ll just confirm them in at least fourth place but that is the play-off place for the 7th place no?

        If Edinburgh win next round and Benetton lose, Benetton and Ulster can still overhaul us in the last round.

      1. True or not, lamentable maybe, but this surely is to be expected?

        Every game has numerous refereeing errors, the difference is mainly how teams respond, and good or bad timing.

        Funny how we never seem to win off the back of a refereeing error 😉.

      2. I think that’s because we don’t win many close-run games, and when we do we’re too relieved to complain about it. Every game has errors, but some are more significant than others. For example, Scarlets have a lot to complain about regarding Clancy’s refereeing, but you can’t point to a single refereeing error and say it defined the game, whereas you can for the Ulster vs. Edinburgh game (for example).

        I think Glasgow and Scotland have both had more of the ‘rub of the green’ in the last year or so than has previously been the case, but we still suffer against the favoured teams.

  15. Off topic but has anyone seen what happens to the league when the welsh teams merge and it becomes a 13 team league?

    1. I ‘m pretty sure the aim was to merge to existing teams and introduce a new one in North Wales. The WRU is legally required by the current pro14 contract to enter 4 teams.

      1. That’s right, I think they were looking at merging Ospreys and Scarlets.

  16. Two very satisfying wins at the weekend. Great to see Jonny Gray and Tommy Seymour showing why they are still first or second choice for Scotland.
    The biggest win was Edinburgh’s though. Away at Scarlets against a very strong backline, 12-0 down at half time. To come back and win shows resilience and no small amount of class. Loved to see Matt Scott and Mark Bennett both playing, and John Barclay showed how much we missed him in the first half of the season.
    This result, together with the Calcutta Cup, hopefully means the guys have the belief (and the ability) that they can win whatever the current score is. Belief and ability – two words we haven’t associated with Scottish Rugby for a while.

    1. Not sure i agree with that Merlot, we should not just say certain players are back as first or 2nd choice based on 1 or the occasional good performance, they need to consistently do it now or there are better players available.

      I was not very impressed with Barclay either if im being honest, when Bradbury replaced him very early on in the second half thats when the game started to turn in our favour, not saying that was the only reason but i think it was a factor.

      1. Barclay played very well against Leinster – was good against Munster but was a bit meh on Sat.

        His return needs managed – an achilles tear for a 30 something is a significant injury.

        I think Mata is looking a bit weary to be honest – he’s heavily marked and it might be a good idea to have him on the bench with Bradbury starting at 8 this Friday.

      2. What I actually meant was that those two (Gray and Seymour), despite not performing as well as they can in the 6N (or indeed as well as some others) they were still picked by Toonie. His faith in them wasn’t properly repaid, although neither could have been said to have a “shocker”. This weekend showed why Toonie keeps picking them.
        As for Barclay vs Bradbury, I think Barclay was one of the few who stood up in that first half, so think it’s a bit disingenuous to imply Bradbury made the difference.
        I’d like to see them both in the side as they bring different things to the party and complement each other. But with Watson, Mata and Ritchie in the mix, not to mention Crosbie and Hamilton, I doubt it will happen this weekend.

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