SCRUM Web Columnist ‘The Pen’ gives his thoughts on the last week at Glasgow Warriors:
What more do I say? It would been easier to just remove the mentions of Scarlets from my last piece and replace it with Ulster to be honest.
Different weekend, different opposition, same problems, same result.
Saturday against Ulster was a real battering. If it had been a boxing match, you’d be looking for the referee to step in and stop the pummelling.
Despite Glasgow fielding 10 international players, including the retuning Simone Favaro, Peter Horne and Mark Bennett, in addition to giving a debut to on-loan Brandon Thomson, the Warriors were largely outwitted, out muscled and out played by an Ulster team who played some lovely rugby at times and were marshalled superbly by the out-going Ruan Pienaar.
Pienaar acts like a quarterback out on that pitch, setting up plays, organising his troops and pinging passes around the pitch with the greatest of ease. Ulster are going to miss him greatly. But in Marcel Coetzee, they have a new Springbok who will take on talismanic characteristics .
For Glasgow, no one was doing the same job. Horne at 10 will take time to regain match sharpness, but the worry for me is the once irresistible Henry Pyrgos. His decision making was questionable at times, none more so than with Glasgow five metres out from the Ulster try line and he lofted a chip into their in goal area and gave Ulster an escape route.
Would we have scored a try had he not kicked it? Possibly. Would the result have been different? Probably not but it seemed like a player running low on self-confidence and unsure of what to do and that is a worry.
Glasgow missed 31 tackles in the game and conceded 20 turnovers. Those are stats that will give Gregor nightmares and with a trip to the Ospreys this Sunday it does not bode well.
The Welsh outfit will have a field day if they are given the same kind of freedom that Ulster enjoyed.
Were there bright spots? A few. Brandon Thomson looked good at 15 and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Warriors looked to sign him up on a longer term deal as back-up to Stuart Hogg.
Horne’s return from injury is a big positive and I can only hope he regains match fitness quickly.
All that said, there was only one man on the pitch for me who escaped criticism and that’s Scott Cummings.
He was everywhere at the Kingspan and he chased every lost cause, tackled anything in white and played with a maturity well beyond his young years.
His partnership with Alainu’uese looks like a good one and it may see ‘big Brian’ kept on as a result. His attitude is second to none and he plays with his heart on his sleeve in every game. His two tries, the second of which was a perfect example of his never say die attitude, gave the Warriors a chance of a losing bonus point towards the end.
Ospreys loss to Munster at the weekend will no doubt spur them on to get a result against Glasgow and in my opinion, defeat against the Welsh outfit is almost certainly the final nail in the coffin for the Warriors play-off chances.
With Ulster playing Zebre , I’d be shocked if they don’t claim a bonus point victory. Munster v Scarlets is an important fixture for us. Defeat to Ospreys and victory for Scarlets signals the end I believe.
Since my last blog, the Warriors have recruited Kebble and Gibbins and these players are serious signings for the Warriors.
If Kebble can have the same effect on the Warriors scrum that Nel had at Edinburgh then the benefits of having a prop who can play all year round without international call-ups is immeasurable.
Add to that a flanker of the calibre of Gibbins, also available during international windows and you can see what Dave Rennie is starting to build.
Hopefully this time next season we will be significantly more competitive…
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