Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Exeter Chiefs 52-17 Glasgow Warriors

European Rugby Champions Cup
European Rugby Champions Cup - pic © EPCR/Inpho used with permission

The return fixture to the fog-bound Glasgow win last month saw both sites jostling for position in the following rounds of the Heineken Champions Cup

Despite nary a Gray brother in sight on either side, there was plenty of Scottish interest with Stuart Hogg and Sam Skinner in harness for the hosts and Danny Wilson’s men looking to back up their good win over the Ospreys in the URC.

Glasgow came out at Sandy Park fired up with Zander Fagerson making his presence felt in both the scrum, lineout and loose during a first half in which he was excellent.

Glasgow took the first points early on through a Ross Thompson penalty after a spell where they assaulted Exeter’s line in faux-emulation of their hosts, to the strains of the risible Tomahawk Chop being chanted in the background. They didn’t get the try after an awful forward pass on advantage but coming away with any points still felt like a strong start like they had in the previous encounter – Glasgow of last year might have left with nothing.

Exeter took better advantage of their own incursions into Glasgow’s 22 on the first and second times of asking, with tries for Tom O’Flaherty (Hogg or Jack Nowell could easily have scored it) and a second for Sam Simmonds that was more typically Exeter in nature, bundling over from short range off a lineout drive.

The breakdown was often something of a crap shoot – croupier: R Poite(FFR) – but the early exchanges were probably in Glasgow’s favour; even so they found themselves 14-3 down after 25 minutes.

The much admired Rory Darge and Jack Dempsey were carrying well along with George Turner, and Ali Price was marshalling the troops carefully but it was lock Kiran McDonald who scored his first European try, darting through an acre of space off a lineout drive. It was very “Exeter” in execution, but the large gap left by the hosts was uncharacteristic so close to the line. Well worked by Glasgow to force their way back into it.

Darge and thorough nuisance Zander Fagerson capped a great first half with a double jackal over the ball to launch Glasgow right back down into Exeter’s 22 almost immediately, but the lineout went away from them. Glasgow were unlucky not to get another penalty for Nowell gathering the ball off the ground in an offside position after Sam Skinner knocked it on, but it left the home side in charge as half-time approached.

Half-time: Exeter Chiefs 14-10 Glasgow Warriors

Fraser Brown swapped with Turner at half-time and got stuck straight into the defensive work, but it was the impressive Darge who generated the penalty for his team after the hooker’s tackle. Once again good attacking lineout position (even after a cheeky combo between Matt Fagerson and Brown down the blindside gained more metres) was squandered, which would continue to be a theme for the visiting side.

The Glasgow backs decided to get involved at that point, with Kyle Steyn – getting probably his first touch coming in to look for work – and Sione Tuipulotu combining well, but it was Matt Fagerson (clearly tired of Zander hogging the plaudits in the changing room) who scampered over for the try from the following phases.

A Thompson conversion put Glasgow back in the lead; that was to be the high water mark.

A pinpoint touchfinder from Henry Slade (Cole Forbes tripped over the corner flag trying to keep it out) soon put Exeter in their preferred attacking position. Dave Ewers failed to ground it the first time, but Sam Simmonds took his second try when Exeter came calling seconds later; Glasgow this time had no answer to the power.

Both back three units had little to do in the first hour as it wasn’t that sort of game (aside from semi-regular bouts of kick tennis), but after Josh McKay failed to gather a high ball, a kick chase by Jack Nowell put Sebastian Cancilliere – on for Forbes – under all sorts of pressure and gave Exeter a 5 metre scrum. Simmonds attacked from the base and was denied but his brother hoofed it wide to O’Flaherty who took his second try unopposed.

When even the usually excellent Ali Price was making box-kick errors, you sensed that Exeter had grasped the momentum in a big way with the bonus point in the bag. Another lineout drive was converted into a try, this time for Luke Cowan-Dickie, only cementing that fact.

Price left the pitch soon afterwards, with George Horne, Oli Kebble, Ryan Wilson and then Duncan Weir and Enrique Pieretto emptying the bench to try and arrest Glasgow’s decline for the last 17 minutes.

Sadly they were unable to do so as O’Flaherty steamed through three defenders off a great pass from Hogg to get his own hat-trick and open up Exeter’s lead further. Glasgow’s backline were by that point well shuffled, with Steyn in the centre getting a little more to do, but Thompson left to cover fullback.

Exeter kept coming in the final ten minutes with Hoggy (needlessly) celebrating another try – the officials took it off for a very forward pass – but Jack Nowell took his own streaking run through the heart of Glasgow’s midfield with no doubt, and Dave Ewers made it the half century minutes later to make the scoreline pretty dismal in the end.

SRBlog Man of the Match: Danny Wilson and Glasgow will largely want to forget that last half hour but Rory Darge was superb for most of this game. He is so quick in defence and at the breakdown for one so young. Can we find a way to fit him and Hamish Watson (and Jamie Ritchie) in the Scotland team? He needs to start building that experience now.

28 Responses

  1. Excellent from the chiefs, although we left a few points out there!

    Glasgow played bravely and too their full potential (your 7 was excellent), but this tournament separates the boys from the men.

  2. I found the 2 defeats for Edinburgh and Glasgow very chastening – Glasgow totally overpowered and Edinburgh failing to close a game where they had a one-man advantage

    With 6 nations coming up, some early danger signs

  3. The glasgow game was weird, they started badly conceding two try’s then got back into it and led. and i was expecting to see them push on. got a penalty from the restart. fraser brown throws squint from the lineout although no exeter payer even contesting the ball and from there glasgow switch off. tuipulotu gets injured, darge subbed, turner subbed, poite gives up reffing and glasgow completely implode.

  4. Just back from the Edinburgh game. They should have won it. Some really poor game management at the end of the first half and particularly in the last ten minutes of the match turned what should have been a gritty, hard-won win into a frustrating loss. Full credit to London Irish for never giving up, even when down to 14 men with 20 or so minutes to go.

  5. Shabby behaviour from Hogg. Not exactly how to behave when you’re captain of an international side and your playing against your teammates. Winning ungraciously. Immature and embarrassing.

    1. This reaction is the immature one tbh.

      He’s a passionate guy and was celebrating his team winning. Just as you would expect him to celebrate when playing against his Exeter teammates for Scotland.

    2. I hope his over the top orgasmic celebrations are remembered when his pace fades, he is less employable and looks back North for one last pay day to keep him in teeth and hair.

      1. I think you will find that it’s Hoggy that needs a mirror…. not that he will be short of one. Jonny Gray has triumphed over his old club and doesn’t feel the need to act like a plank at every opportunity. I was at Scotstoun in December and every one applauded Hoggy as has been the case previously, no need for him to go over the top with his celebrations on Saturday.

  6. Darge has been excellent for Glasgow this season. Watson must now know that if he under performs then hes going to lose his Scotland starting shirt. In fact the Glasgow back row of Darge, Dempsey and Fagerson has been excellent.

    Really weird performance from Warriors, well in the game at times and headless at others. Big turnaround from the game before xmas.

    1. George Horne was a bit erratic when he came on. I wonder if he is now number 3 at Glasgow?

      1. yep, he’s struggled all season. i do think we’ll see vellacot in the Scotland squad, price obvs, and probably dobie.

      2. I don’t rate George Horne. Yeah he might be good a breaks late on in a broken game but has poor game management, struggles to do the basics well, always looking to do something spectacular n seems to just want the glory, ignoring teammates who are in support or are in a better position to continue a promising attack. Reminds me of when Sam hidalgo clyne was way off the pace at Edinburgh

      3. I think his form has dipped in around the last year when Price has kicked on massively and Dobie has appeared on the scene so the competition is a lot fiercer. But his try-scoring rate is pretty good even with limited game time! (6 tries off 17 int’l caps for example is a decent return rate for a scrum-half)

      4. George Horne probably needed to leave Scotstoun and Ali Price’s shadow earlier in his career. He’s in danger of becoming yesterday’s man. More Scottish players should move for playing opportunities, it might be make or break but professional sport is about risks and young players just need game time.

      5. I like George Horne, mostly because he always brings pace and for his support lines. Where I think he’s fallen behind Price is not on energy its game management and box kicking. Horne really needs game time to improve his management. Price really came on during the lions tour and I think that kind of intensive training might be what Horne needs. Maybe he should feature heavily on the summer tour and Price can have the summer off. I also think Horne is missing Mike Blair, turns out Blair is a decent coach and I think he brought on all the scrum halves at Glasgow and is now doing the same at Edinburgh

      6. From a Scotland viewpoint I fear Hornito is another one that will fall into the category of we never played him enough when his form was amazing because he was “too young” now it has dipped he will be overlooked but when he has a renaissance he will still be overlooked because others have more caps. We seem to be getting better but for too long we have been overly cautious with throwing young players in due to lack of experience. If they are good enough they are old enough, throw them in, sink or swim. I and I think quite a few others on here would have had him ahead of Ali Price and certainly ahead of Greeg a couple of seasons ago. I also think trends and fashions in the game come and go, a few seasons ago, having a sniper at 9 was the in thing whereas now the game seems to have reverted back to a traditional scrum half, get the ball out and get it out quickly, if in doubt box kick.

      7. I don’t think Horne was ever overlooked for being too young, it’s because whilst he did some things amazingly will his core skills for a SH and game management weren’t good enough.

        I’m not even sure we have an issue playing young players – we do have an issue providing young players game time so their progress at professional level often stalls when moving into senior rugby. That is mostly because we have only two pro-teams and a big gap to Super 6.

  7. He will be (surprisingly) 27 in May so way of the “young pup” bracket now!
    And he’s holding Dobbie back by sitting on the bench (and not getting much game time from there).
    If they are Scotland’s 2nd and 3rd nines they both urgently need more gametime or will be seriously undercooked during the 6N. We’ll be in difficulty should anything happen to Price.

  8. I don’t usually like blaming the coach for on the pitch deficiencies, but in this case Danny Wilson made a pigs ear of this. Why replace our best player (Darge) with more than half an hour to go and we were still in the game? Was he injured? Similarly replacing the very experienced Price for Horne so early, when our backs were to the wall. Price didn’t look tired and keeping the leaders on the pitch when Chiefs were coming at us strong was more important than fresh legs.
    I’m all for making use of the bench, but to my mind the timing (and who was being replaced) was seriously misjudged.

  9. Glasgow in the last 20minutes were like Custers soldiers at the battle of the Little Bighorn. Totally outfought and out thought by a superior force. Good to hear that old Redskin warsong chanted in the background.

  10. It was a pretty abject performance from Glasgow throughout, although the replacements have to take some extra blame because the last 20 minutes was diabolical.

    It’s very concerning that Scottish players haven’t yet lost the habit of making unnecessary errors at inopportune times. Exeter didn’t really have to do much other than just wait for us to cough up a penalty or a turnover within a phase or two.

    The most noticeable thing for me was that our hookers still can’t be relied upon to throw accurately at key lineouts. It’s by far the biggest weakness in the Scotland teams’ game right now. Concerning that more focus hasn’t been put on this in recent weeks. If George Turner could develop this part of his game he’d be a terrific player.

  11. Glasgow clearly missed the set-piece brilliance and physicality of Richie Gray here, the Scrum and Line-out were poor.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion