Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


PRO14 Round 1: Connacht 28 – 24 Glasgow Warriors

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A losing BP is all that Danny Wilson’s Warriors can take from fixture one of the 20/21 season, after an increasingly sloppy defensive performance cost Glasgow dear in the end. As a sidenote to this week’s podcast, the wind didn’t seem that bad.

Connacht’s kick-off put Glasgow under early defensive pressure, and they won a penalty within the first minute with Oli Kebble clearing out from the side. Their prolific stand-off, Jack Carty gave the hosts a 3-0 lead.

Kebble then conceded a contentious penalty at a scrum on half-way, which also saw co-captain – but delegated ref-speaker, Fraser Brown – receive lengthy treatment.

There are two major flaws in Adam Hastings’ game which happen time and time again, and they put Glasgow under pressure.

It was his forward pass which led to the scrum penalty, and then a high tackle allowed Connacht to kick to the corner.

As Glasgow scrambled to defend, Matt Fagerson was caught offside, but Carty missed a fairly simple looking effort.

Glasgow remained under the cosh, Huw Jones had to clear from the in-goal area to just outside the 22, but the previously stricken Brown claimed the overthrown line-out and careered into Connacht’s half before being hauled down.

Connacht knocked on at the breakdown contest, and this time Kebble overpowered Finlay Bealham to win this particular head-to-head.

Glasgow produced a lovely line-out move, Huw Jones took advantage of a slip to get within 5m but when realising he would be caught, his pass to Nairn was too hard to take at full-speed.

Connacht had infringed at the line-out, and then conceded three more in a short period, which eventually saw lock Quinn Roux take a seat for ten minutes, in a highly responsible, socially distance bubble-space with a selection of periodicals of his choice.

What looked like a certain equalising effort was missed by Hastings, and Glasgow conceded a turnover penalty with their next possession.

This clash of the counter-attackers saw both sides stretch the other’s defences only for skills to let them down in the first half-hour of the new season.

Connacht had weathered the storm of being without Quinn Roux, but upon his return, a Glasgow maul which was rumbling towards the line was illegally brought down, so Hastings again went to the sidelines.

Connacht defended this one much better, and the intervention of Connacht scrum-half at the maul, won the home side the scrum put-in, which they won a penalty from. Again, it was given against Kebble to tip the see-saw back in Connacht’s favour, but only for the next minute or so.

Glasgow won possession back and patiently worked forward, then with the clock in the red and a penalty advantage, Warriors worked their way over the line through Nick Grigg.

Half-time: Connacht 3 – 7 Glasgow Warriors

Danny Wilson doesn’t expect to reinvent the wheel at Glasgow, but a moment of peak-Warriors madness allowed Hastings to extend Glasgow’s lead in the 46th minute.

Having stolen possession back in their own 22, Hastings took full advantage of a free-play to chip ahead for Huw Jones to sprint onto. He gathered with one-hand (it was pretty suave) and another of those slightly dodgy breakdown pens went Glasgow’s way.

Connacht levelled the scores to 10-10 when Aki scored a similar try to Grigg’s effort, and as the teams turned to restart, the ineffective Robbie Nairn was replaced by Ratu Tagive.

Quinn Roux then bustled over to put Connacht into the lead, despite what looked like a forward pass  by Marmion in the build-up, as the hour mark approached.

Warriors hit back in a “Aah, that’s my Warriors”-fashion moments later.

Now that the current coaching set-up has left – and there’s no full-back – the former wunderkind, Huw Jones, has a chance to prove he’s international class, and his wonderful finish from 30m after cutting an outside-to-in line, proved again how lethal he can be.

Carty knocked over a penalty to make it 20-17 for the Galwegians, then a fantastic, counter-attack try finished off by Bundee Aki stretched the advantage to 25-17.

This game had now exploded into life like Lazarus on crack.

Tommy Seymour finished off a fine Glasgow move in the right-corner, and then on came Horneito to replace Price with less than 10mins remaining. Richie Gray also replaced Scott Cummings, and Fotu Lokotui came on for his debut.

The Tongan international then conceded a penalty at the breakdown for not rolling away, and Carty dinged the penalty over, to make it a 28-24 game with 3mins remaining.

With 90 seconds of regulation time remaining, Glasgow snaffled the ball back, but as he tried to straighten up the line it caused Ratu Tagive to delay his outside run, and Jones’ prospective pass to him went straight into touch.

An interesting match which improved in attacking quality as it went on, but defensively and disciplinarily, Glasgow will look to improve as Danny Wilson gets his own imprint put into the team.

SRBlog Player of the Match: Huw Jones. He doesn’t have the thunder-boot of Hogg, nor is he a perfectly nuanced full-back, but his running game was superb, and he does cover the backfield well.

Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)

Attendance: 200

36 Responses

  1. Think that game really sums up Huw Jones. Brilliant in attack with some great runs and shows bags of potential. But in the defining moment of the game, 2.5 minutes left to play he kicks the ball out. Then gets another chance and lobs it into touch. Is this inconsistency why coaches don’t rate him yet fans love him because of some good runs?

    Thought Glasgow showed some good potential and am sure Wilson will build them into a decent side with the little tools he has at his disposal.

    1. There was definitely promise in Glasgow but the Edinburgh game was dire. Why can’t both our pro teams be competitive at the same time?

    2. Really, is that fair. No it is not. Huw Jones was head and shoulders above every man on the pitch , bar none, yet he is criticised for a kick and a lob ! He has had months off, like the rest of them, yes he is rusty and in a sea of mediocrity he stood out but lets just pick on a few moments in the opening game of the season.

      Being honest , he is too good for Glasgow , always was and his confidence has suffered in Scotland.

      Lets look at them, Ali price ( filled a jersey) , Hastings some very bad judgement calls (Inconsistent) , Grigg ran a line and scored hardly a rolls Royce performance (and I mistook him for Darcy Rae more than once), Seymour ( not a lot of ball , but did well), McDowall (must do better) , Nairn ( was a Tractor tonight) .

    3. The defining moment was 70 mins when Hastings kept kicking it high and long , we should have held it and played rugby.

  2. Referees have got to get a grip of those cheats who, illicitly, pin opposition players in at a rucks and earn penalties. There were many examples of this in the Pro14 games over the weekend.

    1. The weird thing was that Evans said to Glasgow “you’re pinning him in” yet when Connacht did the same thing he awarded them penalties. Similarly, refs were explicitly told not to reward players who, when jackaling, put an arm underneath the player so to earn a penalty for making it look like the tackle player’s not releasing, yet there are loads of examples of that not happening every round. Then we have the differing interpretations, not just between refs but between competitions. It’s farcical. And offside still isn’t being policed. If WR were even vaguely competent they’d have sorted this.

      1. this wasn’t a WR problem for once, it was a pro14 problem. Anyone who has been watching rugby in NZ or England would have thought they were different laws or even different sports.

      2. Bring back the shoe, no need to pin them when you can shoe them out the way. Sometimes this game just needs more traditional values.

  3. 3rd start at full back and Huw Jones looks to the manor born. A proper cutting edge there Glasgow have lacked since Hogg left. And other parts of his game have stood up really well – areas I had doubts on like positioning and kicking game (latter isn’t perfect but very serviceable).

    The pass to touch he should have made, a bit of a no look to fix the defender couple with Tagive not being as flat as Jones thought combined for the error. He made one judgement error when he made the big break and I think should have backed himself to get near enough to dive for the line.
    But an excellent performance to build on the couple against Edinburgh. Glasgow fans have a quality full back, much to their relief!

  4. but its looking like it could be a tough season for Warriors. Just not quite there. Zander will make a big difference but they will hardly see him this season outside the HC. Seuili has to start instead of Kebble, another ref didn’t take to him, and his carrying was poor for such a big man. Taking the ball standing still too much, and not just Kebble, without the Exeter style latchers driving him on – something that can and should be fixed easily.
    but yes, a long season beckons and its hard to say if it will be positive or negative, but I think getting to play offs would be seen from here as success, beyond that unlikely

  5. Glasgow have lower expectations to manage this season and made a decent start. Lacked the composure in the closing parts of the game but that will come in time. Edinburgh just looked like they were sulking after their end to last season. They need to buck their ideas up quickly because if they don’t they could easily find themselves rooted to the bottom most of the season. Surely this is the year for both teams to blood the youngsters and see what Happens. The likes of Nairn, shiel etc are at crucial points in their careers where they need time invested in them. I’d rather see them play ahead of guys like tagive, groom etc .

  6. Connacht were good and Aki was a constant threat but we could and should have won that. Kebble gets on better at scrum time when Zander is locking the tight and the scrum cannot pivot. Rae was decent but we have a large gap between ZF and the other tight heads – Danny Wilson clearly has as much trust in Nicol as Rennie did. A few of the old heads are looking past their best and the youngsters have not stepped up.
    I think McDowall will do so but he needs a run of games at 12. Huw Jones looks as if he could flourish at 15. Despite Iain’s comments in the article, I think Nairn is worth persisting with.

    1. A fair point re the “old heads” – if experienced players turn in that kind of performance, you have to question the value of their experience to team development. There has long been a reluctance in Scottish rugby, to bring on young players early: usually for entirely the wrong reasons.

      1. I tire of reading this nonsense. Scottish rugby has always rewarded and promoted players whatever their age – if they are good enough. We have an amazing record of capping youngsters and they don’t get capped if they aren’t playing top flight. Go check.
        There is an issue now at Edinburgh with the ultra conservative Cockerill, but he is very much the exception

  7. I enjoyed the game, much as it was the wrong result. I am optimistic about Glasgow. Connaught are a hard side to beat at the sportsground , credit to them.

    Glasgow’s scrum looks solid, very workman like , and a few big names outside the 23. Harley was a menace to them all night, he really is overlooked. Well done Rob Harley, he will hold us together this season.

    Huw Jones looks very settled already and will bring a balance to Glasgow’s back line. Hogg did things his way and that was demanding, Huw Jones will give us every bit as much , however he is a very different proposition. Jones arrived with success behind him, how much more will we get when we work out how to play with him !

    Yes a whole new season of drama and glorious rugby.

    1. problem for Glasgow is they are going to be missing so many “big names” for so much of the season. Even before injury I think between the 8N, 6N and mandated rests, we will only see the likes of Zander for a handful of league matches. Could miss as many as 12.
      Edin similar, ditto Italians.

      1. James, I think most of the PRO14 sides will be the same, however our academy’s are producing . I feel ok about Glasgow. Seymour, Fusaro, Wilson , Harley, Gray are all experienced guys and you can bolt youngsters around them.Hopefully Toony will continue to favour Harris and we can hold onto our midfielders.

      2. 4 welsh teams and 4 Irish teams to share the pain. We have 2. Italians will be hit as bad as us certainly.
        Our academy is producing but has its limits. Lets remember that Leinster 2nds put 50 on Glasgow firsts before lockdown.

  8. I need to pick Iain up on one point. Huw Jones does not need to prove he is international class. In his early games he was sublime, he has already proved it. I would prefer him not to get mixed up in the international set up this season. Get into his rhythm at Glasgow and stay away from Townsend.

    1. I’ll give you that, I edited out the word “again”.

      I’d still rather Jones was at 13, running onto Finn’s little dinks and miss-passes

      1. I cannot see Finn playing his natural game for Scotland. He is constrained with Scotland. His move has demonstrated just how talented he really is. Inside one year we have seen him play beautiful rugby. If I was that talented I might also have boiled over with the frustration of being shackled with the same old groundhog day.

      2. To be fair, at Racing Finn has the luxury of Vakatawa, Zebo, Imhoff outside him, a competitive to dominant pack, and 9s who can take the kicks (not saying that he can’t, but it suits him not to have to) .

        He has few of these luxuries with Scotland.

      3. Russell’s natural game has matured at Racing. Yes he still does the brilliant stuff, but for that HC semi final for example, he played conservatively for the most part, waiting until late until trying that chip over. Patience beyond his earlier years. He still does some daft ones of course, but at Racing he is definitely more game managing even when that is predominantly his 9’s job there

  9. Glasgow need their best players back and getting regular game time, in saying that I would persist with a few of the youngsters for the next few games until the Scotland international games finish.

    First choice Glasgow team.

    1. Aki Seiuli
    2. Fraser Brown
    3. Zander Fagerson
    4. Leone Nakarawa
    5. Richie Gray
    6. Rob Harley
    7. Tom Gordon
    8. Matt Fagerson

    9. George Horne
    10. Adam Hastings
    11. Robbie Nairn
    12. Sam Johnson
    13. Kyle Steyn
    14. Tommy Seymour
    15. Huw Jones

    16. George Turner
    17. Oli Kebble
    18. Darcy Rae
    19. Scott Cummings
    20. Ryan Wilson
    21. Ali Price
    22. Stafford Mcdowall
    23. Niko Matawalu

    Horne can cover 10 if Hastings injured. But we have lost regardless at that point anyway.

    1. Richie Gray only gets into Glasgow’s starting XV if Nakawara has to play in the back row . Naks and Cummings streets ahead these days

      I’d be surprised if they have signed Pieretto to have him behind Rae. Wee George hasn’t shown he can manage a game from the off as well as Price. I think they will stick with Steyn on the wing, but I’d be with you and have him at 13, been excellent there but Sarries gutted him ruthlessly on the wing

  10. Glad to hear Jones went well. Regardless of Glasgow’s need, has to get back to 13, for Scotland.

  11. Nairn is a bit of an enigma, isn’t he. He looked almost awkward moving about the pitch – did he get a big knock early on or something? After the pre match interviews, I was hoping to see him go looking for work to try and make a bit of an impression, but he looked miles off the pace. I think Tagive had more touches in his first 5 mins on the pitch than Nairn managed in the previous 50.

  12. A bit rusty to begin with. A game we should have won. We need more accurate kickers. Price and Horne appear to be getting better but the Irish set the standard. Hastings was inconsistent with his kicking. I felt for Nairn. He was so off the pace for such a quick man. McDowell needs more time. He is quality but was disappointing. Jones was class at 15 and our only real threat. But a world class 13 on form. And we would be far better nationally with him in that role. Edinburgh? I couldn’t really describe what I saw. A staggeringly bad performance. Ospreys though looked the business.

  13. Two points.
    1. People need to get past the idea that Harley is only an emergency lock, he’s played there regularly for glasgow for an extended period of time and it’s probably his most effective poisition.

    2. Ritchie Gray is probably 4th choice lock and 2013 is long gone.

  14. In have read on various sites that Scotland are playing Georgia as a warm up before playing Wales. But elsewhere no mention of it in the schedules. Can someone please clarify?

    1. Just look on the SRU website, it is in the schedules under Autumn Nations Cup for 23 October.

    2. Pretty sure that is happening, as much as anything else anyway. There will be 2 rounds of re-scheduled 6 Nations for some so this gives us something to do in the fallow week, was the thinking I believe?

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