Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Zebre 20 – 31 Glasgow Warriors

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Danny Wilson’s young lions recovered from a nightmarish period either side of half-time to eventually drag Zebre down, and a slightly more experienced head in Nick Grigg delivered the killer blow at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

Both sides were forced into early changes when Zebre full-back Michael Biondelli’s weaving run was ended by Gregor Brown’s face.

Biondelli was down for some time being attended to by the medical staff, while Brown – although the head-on-head collision had looked sickening – the first-time starter, limped off with what looked like a knee injury after falling awkwardly from the collision. On came Leone Nakarawa for what was going to be a long shift for a replacement.

Paolo Pescetto and Ross Thompson traded penalties and the Italian stand-off then saw another effort just drop short of the posts from a tough angle, following on from Oli Kebble being penalised at a scrum for hinging.

Despite having the first foray in attack, Warriors had spent most of the time in their own half without the ball, until the 23rd minute when they took the lead.

A swift move down the left saw the ball tickled forward by Cole Forbes and the bouncing ball evaded the Zebre backline to afford Thompson an easy score which he also converted. The try came at some cost though, as Enrique Pieretto took a stray boot to the face at a ruck which saw him go off for an HIA.

The unfamiliar site of a penalty advantage not being pulled back followed for Glasgow after a scintillating break down the right flank by Rufus McLean which took the Warriors within 5m, and although a second penalty went their way a spill by temporary replacement tighthead D’arcy Rae handed possession back to Zebre.

McLean again threatened the try-line again after a sweeping move off the set-piece, but a despairing last-ditch tackle from scrum-half Gugliemo Palazzani just saw his boot taken into touch before he recovered to ground the ball.

 Huw Jones was not having his best game, and another handling error from him inside the Warriors’ half was eventually finished off by Mattia Bellini right under the sticks.

In the build-up to the try, Sam Johnson had lifted Ian Nagle in the tackle so the Warriors were also down to 14 following Potu Leavasa’s earlier card.

His power in defence was sorely missed as Zebre once again carved Glasgow open far too easily and Bellini was in for his second try in two minutes. There were some nice offloads in the move but some of the Glasgow tackling just wasn’t hard enough to disrupt the Zebre flow.

As has been the case far too often this season, with the half-time whistle drawing close Glasgow had switched off and went from a position of strength to now chasing the game.

Half-time: Zebre 17 – 10 Glasgow Warriors

The start of the second half saw a further blow to Glasgow.

Having lost possession when their maul was halted and they couldn’t get the ball back, Ollie Smith saw yellow for a deliberate knock-on as Zebre spun the ball from one wing to the other.

Zebre, sensing blood, went to the touchline but on this occasion it was Zebre’s maul that couldn’t get moving properly and Glasgow were given the chance to clear their lines, which with two men missing from the defensive line came as some relief.

Zebre threatened the Warriors line again following a contentious turnover penalty being won by Marco Manfredi who was never supporting his own weight at the breakdown, but they did extend the lead from the tee as Rufus McLean was subsequently caught offside as he scrambled back to defend the line.

Smith’s sin-binning period ran out but he was not to return as Nick Grigg replaced him and Ian Keatley came on for Ross Thompson, and it was the pocket rocket of Grigg who made the decisive line-break as Glasgow pulled themselves back into striking distance.

Zebre spilled the ball at the fringes of the Glasgow 22, Huw Jones and Cole Forbes made some metres, and when Grigg saw himself facing a Zebre lock he powered through the gap and popped the ball off to Jamie Dobie for a simple run-in.

As Glasgow probed, Zebre lost stand-off Pescetto to a head-knock when he took Ian Keatley’s knee to the face when attempting the tackle, forcing a major reshuffle in their backs division.

Multiple penalties went the Warriors way with 15mins remaining, which forced referee Andrea Pirardi back into his pocket to this time send Enrico Lucchin to the naughty step.

Rather than take the easy leveller off the tee, Glasgow tapped and went. A few phases later, they had retaken the lead when Tom Gordon stretched over, but may have dislocated his shoulder in the process as he then trudged off with his arm in a makeshift sling.

A four-point lead with approximately 10mins remaining, could Danny Wilson’s stuttering side hold out for the win which would take them above their Italian opponents?

They could do better. Zebre made a mess of their line-out, Glasgow countered down the left and Huw Jones judged a chip over the top with such precision that Nicolo Casilio couldn’t escape coffin corner and the clutches of Cole Forbes who dragged him into touch.

Line-out safely completed – and with yet another close-range penalty advantage – it was replacement Grigg, who had turned the tide with his break for Dobie’s try, that ran onto Sam Johnson’s inside pass to bring up the bonus-point score.

A few handling and execution errors – Thompson and Keatley both liable for putting the ball out on the full – and a worrying number of players going off injured which resulted in Grant Stewart playing a full 80 with Johnny Matthews resorting to openside flanker, but job eventually done for Danny Wilson’s young bucks.

SRBlog Player of the Match: You’d maybe not ask him look after your pets, but the young Kiwi Cole Forbes had a very solid game, making metres in hand, creating the first try with his teasing kick, and winning a turnover which eventually led to the Dobie score.

Referee: Andrea Pirardi (FIR)

29 Responses

  1. Finn came off this evening with 7 minutes to spare – anyone with the low down. Fingers crossed also for Hoggy that his knee is ok.

      1. Where is this reported? I can’t see anything online.

        If true the Ireland game is turning into a major disaster with no fly half currently fit, so presumably we’ll have to hope VDW recovers to play some part or else we’ll be facing playing with Lang at 10.

  2. This is the standard of reporting I expect from the SRB, from the ever reliable Ian Hay, as opposed to the Ireland game preview.

  3. It’s hard enough that we only have two pro sides which doesn’t exactly ensure great strength in depth at international level. We are at such a disadvantage compared with the other home nations who enjoy proper 6N camps without having their players sent back to clubs at rest weekends. Fingers crossed both are ok.

  4. For the first time in ages/ever(?) we have 4 current internationally capped FHs and yet circumstances might conspire against us so that we don’t have any of them available next weekend! Perhaps GT is tempted by a player/coach role?!! More seriously, if none available, it would have to be Lang & then hope he’s a revelation & doesn’t get crocked. Have to just hope at least one of JvDW or Finn can make it.
    On another note, I sincerely hope France don’t get away without some form of meaningful sanction. How about forfeiting all broadcasting revenue from the re-arranged match which is then redirected to reimbursing any additional costs incurred by the Scottish camp and then also given towards fighting the Covid pandemic which some of their set-up seem intent on prolonging.

    1. Whilst it’s far from ideal (and could only happen to us) I’d actually love to see Hogg play 10 if all 4 stand offs (5 if you count Horne too) are somehow out. Just for the fun of it really.

      Maitland at fullback is very solid with Graham and VDM on the wings.

      I think Lang is a decent operator but Hogg would offer more and the back 3 is still very, very strong with him at 10.

  5. One thing I don’t understand about Glasgow this season is the team selection/rotation. Dylan Evans has been brought in on loan twice to feature off the bench for 5 minutes. What was the point in signing George Thornton if the coaches aren’t willing to give him a chance? Why bring in an unknown non SQ loose head when there’s a young guy sitting there already. Apologies if I’ve missed it but Thornton hasn’t been listed as injured anywhere I’ve seen. Same situation with Stafford McDowall, not listed as injured but has seemingly disappeared from Glasgow altogether

    1. Scot95 I couldn’t agree with you more. I have wondered at some of the team selections , particularly under Rennie. I accept there is a need to rotate players and it provides an opportunity for younger players to gain experience and showcase their talents however there does not seem to be any logic or consistency in the rotation policy. Rennie failed to develop numerous young Scottish home grown players. As you may have gathered I was delighted to see the back of him.

  6. Not sure where that intel about Finn Russell being injured came from – a tweet on the SRB feed states he came through unscathed…

    1. Yep, saw that as well. I’m hoping this is a ‘nothing to see here’ situation. It shows how much we are all struggling to find something to occupy ourselves that we spend a full day worrying about an injury which (hopefully) hasn’t happened. Otherwise, I was just cleaning my boots off, I’m thoroughly SQ and keen to do a job at OH if called upon.

      1. Yeah – there has been nothing reported on all the other rugby pages either. They normally pick up on that stuff pretty quickly… fingers crossed.

      2. Russell included in Scotland’s squad for Ireland game, so appears injury reports were wrong. Hogg also included – let’s hope there’s no lingering fitness issues there.

        Main debates over 12 (Johnson back in squad) and who misses out between Maitland and Graham.

        Think Fagerson is now stick on at 8.

        Lots of tough decisions for bench though, who covers backrow (Skinner? Haining?), FH and wing (Lang and Graham/Maitland? JVDW and Jones?)

        How long is prognosis on Redpath? I feel we look much more balanced with him at 12, both starting and on the bench because of his versatility.

      3. I don’t think there were any injury reports – only report I saw said he came through the game “unscathed” and was routinely taken off towards the end. Also I did see somewhere that Redpath was back in training but no eta.

      4. Well there were rumours, on this page at least!

        Our championship is in the balance on this game – wins and we should hit the three win level of mid-table respectability. Lose and we’ll need a miracle in Paris that might even double up as a French grand slam game.

      5. Not sure Id call Fagerson a stick on at 8…..but he is improving…and Ireland will be a big test for him as an 8.
        Likely both Skinner and Haining on bench…as it covers many positions.
        Imo.. definitely Maitland ahead of Graham. Maitland is very good in both defense and attack and is better cover for FB.

      6. 12 is an interesting one – throughout the autumn games, I thought of it as Johnson being the man in possession but missing through injury, so Lang was being given a shot. I had kind of assumed that Johnson was kept back at Glasgow in the initial 6N squad to build up fitness, and now that he’s back, he’ll go straight into the team? Lang hasn’t done anything to suggest that he should be picked ahead of Johnson.

        Arguably Redpath’s performance against England and obvious potential means that he may actually now be first pick in place of Johnson but since he’s injured it’s a moot point.

        Think Lang / Jones would be good bench cover if JVDW is injured.

        Regarding Fagerson, I think he’s a stick on at 8 for this game, given that he’s done well so far and his 2 main competitors for the shirt have dropped out with injuries! He’s maybe not a stick on in the same way as Hogg or Russell but given his youth and performances so far I think he’s ahead of the others even when they’re fit.

  7. I’m glad to see Skinner back who brings some much needed grunt and athleticism off the bench against a physical Ireland side.

  8. My Team for Ireland

    Stuart Hogg – Sean Maitland – Chris Harris – Sam Johnson – Darcy Graham – Finn Russell – Ali Price – Matt Fagerson – Hamish Watson – Jamie Ritchie – Jonny Gray – Scott Cummings – Willem Nel – George Turner – Rory Sutherland

    Duhan Van Der Merwe – Huw Jones – Jamie Dobie – Cornell Du Preez – Sam Skinner – Simon Berghan – David Cherry – Oli Kebble

  9. Interesting Eli,
    D VDM will definitely start, J VDW will definitely be on bench.
    Haining likely on bench alongside Steele.

    Darcy Graham will miss out

  10. What version of Berghan will we see I wonder?! He’s got a few points to prove.

    1. Is there a version that equates to an international test class TH? …hope so!…just haven’t seen it yet.

    2. Hopefully Nel will start and set a good tone with Poite.

      Berghan can perhaps carry on when the old fella is knackered. SB does seem to have “big galoot” mode as a default, which is worrying in today’s refereeing environment.

      Overall I think this game will be decided by Poite’s attitude and let’s face it, with Raynal, Piardi and Ruiz as backup, we are in for some controversial decisions.

      The team that adapts best to les decisions bizarre will gain a big advantage, and the other will struggle. The key, I guess, is not to let it get under your skin and just get on with the game.

    1. Haven’t seen any official press releases with squad updates this week or on the main website so have to assume it’s as was prior to France game?

      1. Scottish rugby tweeted it yesterday. Squad has been updated since previous announcement – Haining, Maclean, Skinner in. Baylis, Gray out. Can’t remember if there was another out.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion