Relentless Racing outmuscle injury-struck Glasgow

 

Ali Price
Youngster Ali Price in action

Going into this game it was only to be expected that Racing 92 were favourites. Undefeated for their last 8 home games, at the summit of the Top 14 after beating Clermont away from home, playing some of their best rugby yet and orchestrated by Dan Carter, you can understand why Glasgow came into the game as under dogs. They sit 8th in the PRO12 at present. Despite this, many who have followed the Warriors over the last few seasons knew this game wasn’t a foregone conclusion. With the likes of Stuart Hogg, Taquele Naiyarovoro and Sean Lamont making up the back three, this game had the potential to produce a result for last years PRO12 champions.

 

However, on the day it was not to be. When Glasgow’s first line out misfired within the opening minutes, it seemed ominous. Racing were playing in the right area of the field very early on and many thought it was only a matter of time before they found the line. This didn’t happen in the opening stages and Glasgow played with intent. For the remainder of the half they strung together some promising phases of play and looked threatening at times.

Unfortunately, it was another day where the ball just wouldn’t stick. Opportunities were squandered, notably a Glasgow overlap where Stuart Hogg decided to cut inside, only to knock the ball on in contact. It was a different story for Racing. They took their first try on 29 minutes excellently by running a poor Glasgow kick back at the disjointed line, exploiting the open nature of the field, an area in which Glasgow have thrived in previous seasons. Combine this try with two missed Glasgow penalties and Racing went into half time 13-3 to the good.

This is where my report struggles for specific detail. Unfortunately, watching from abroad on a live stream means that at times the game got difficult to follow with the connection dropping or the picturing becoming delayed and broken. However, to state the obvious, Glasgow’s opening 10-15 minutes of the second half were abysmal. Before the game everyone had acknowledged the strength of the Racing pack and that certainly showed. Glasgow simply could not cope with the driving maul, a running theme when you look at Scottish rugby as a whole over the past 12 months. The momentum did later shift back in Glasgow’s favour, but the damage was done with the score at 27-3. The TV pundits put the momentum down to the exit of Dan Carter, but I also want to acknowledge the Glasgow bench, who made a positive impact too. Alex Allen did well when he came on and I have no criticism for Lee Jones from what I could see. The fresh legs seemed to boost the team.

Things look up for a sustained part of the second half for Glasgow, especially after a brilliant line out move to use the long levers of the Fijian giant, Leone Nakarawa to get over the line for Glasgow’s first try of the game. Unfortunately, as is the story of their season, Glasgow couldn’t find the last few passes for the rest of the game and this was to be their final score of the day. The game closed emphasising the strength of the Racing pack with a huge maul to the line with backs involved too, giving them the much deserved bonus point win.

Call me an optimist, but I genuinely felt this was largely a more promising game for the Warriors than some of recent. Hogg looked to run the ball and exploit the slightest of gaps. Youngsters Ali Price and Zander Fagerson both had good games, with Price playing good heads up rugby, with quick ball and Fagerson making some good hits. Russell’s first start at 12 in a while saw him throw some excellent passes. Chris Fusaro also looks hungry to get noticed by Vern Cotter and showed excellent skill and balance to stay in field 5 metres out from the Racing line to keep an exciting period of Glasgow play alive. I genuinely believe if things click next week, Glasgow can beat Northampton at the Gardens and at very least give Racing 92 a run for their money the following week. This all depends on Glasgow shaking off their demons and getting down to business however.

Let’s also hope that Mark Bennett is alright and that Glasgow have no more injuries too as we are looking thin on the ground at a number of positions. Any comments appreciated.

The Scribbler, January 9th 2016

Twitter: @RugbyScribbler

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4 thoughts on “Relentless Racing outmuscle injury-struck Glasgow”

  1. Hey Scribbles. Only been reading your stuff for the past week but this as a really nice piece. Think its fair and balanced – although this is based on only watching small parts of the second half and reading many other accounts from the papers.

    But this game is not what I want to comment on – its the Glasgow Warriors 15/16…

    What I’ve seen from every game this yr (yesterday’s was the first I couldn’t watch) is a lot of intent, good phases, but fumbling it towards the end. Not exactly the same as last yr where we lauded the (new to Scottish rugby) off-loading, fast game, but the same focus. Its just this year its not clicking. That may be because of the WC disruption, lack of game-time together due to injury and weather disruptions.

    Whatever the reason, the impact is we cannot put teams to the sword as we once did and so teams with larger packs play a muscle game which we cannot match (how many driving mauls scored against us? How few turnovers do we win in the open vs other Pro12’s?)

    My key point is; this is synonymous with comments re the Ireland team of the early Schmidt era. That said, they worked on the detail, the finer points and making that last pass stick. I truly believe if we persevere with this approach and improve on the small margins things will come good again. In my humble opinion I’d prefer we focus on the big picture (and through the media educate the Warrior Nation)- this was always going to be the difficult second album for us, but if we continue working we can get into playoffs. And, like you, I think we can beat Northampton and run Racing close.

    Acknowledgement must also go to the fact Dan McFarland is only in through the door and has not had 70% of his first team to work with until mid-Nov. This is a massive change from having a stalwart in Shade leaving, but we replaced with a guy who had one of the best defence records with limited resources.

    I really believe if we get a reasonable finish to the season, the Warrior Nation keep their heads (and their Season Tickets), we will come back a MUCH stronger outfit not only domestically but also in Europe.

    In short (sorry for the long-winded rant) in Toony we Trust! (Lets just hope he continues to trust in us!)

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  2. Thanks for the feedback. I couldn’t agree more. It’s been a very disruptive season for many reasons and as Will Greenwood and Rory Lawson said on Sky Sports yesterday, Glasgow aren’t all that far away, it’s just a case of getting the last pass to hand. I always felt this season might’ve been a bit transitional- although Glasgow made good signings such as Taquele Naiyarovoro and Mike Blair, the loss of DTH Van De Merwe and Niko Matawalu was huge. They made up a huge part of the game plan and Glasgow are still adjusting I believe. Let’s see how they go against Northampton next week!

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  3. I think you’re more on the money here than the naysayers. Far too much doom and gloom around. This season may get away from us (although we’re only fine margins away from clicking and post season in Europe and/or the Pro 12 are still bit impossible) but we’re building a very talented young group.

    Specifically on dealing with the rolling maul – our best defence was always to avoid giving them the field position to set that up and generally speaking we managed to do that for much of the game. Couple of poor decisions from Lacey and mistakes by Ashe and Jones to allow them to push down to close to our line.

    Good luck with the blog – when you’re writing about something you’re passionate about it’s much easier to sustain!

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    1. It’s nice that the likes of Greenwood etc hold the same positivity and the media are no longer disregarding Scottish sides. Can’t comment on the decisions, picture was too bad! Yes absolutely, the fact people want to read what I have to say is humbling, much better than telling disinterested friends about rugby at the pub!

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