Ahead of Glasgow’s game with Connacht tonight, our columnist The Pen offers his pre-match thoughts:
Seems like such a long time since I sat down and wrote one of these columns that I’m really not sure where to start in all honesty.
The 6 Nations is long since finished and now we’re reached the business end of the season and starting to think of play-off opponents and even where to stay in Dublin or whether the Irish Sea is swimmable rather than sell the house to pay for flights to the Emerald Isle…
Well I’d hold off on that one if I was you because I’m not sure the Warriors are Dublin bound in all honesty.
Take last Saturday as a prime example. The Warriors were swept aside with ease by a dominant Scarlets outfit who didn’t even have to come close to top gear in order to defeat their Weegie opponents.
At no point did I see a win for the Warriors and that is a worry against the side they will most likely face at Scotstoun in the play-off semi-final. The men in red were on top for the full game and even with the star studded Warriors line up selected they never got going other than the Pyrgos score that reduced the deficit.
Hogg, Russell, Price, Gray and various others returned after a their 6 Nations rest but if anything, their return made the side look disjointed and a little lost. None more so than Russell who had a half that he’d no doubt love to erase from his memory. His kicking from the tee was dreadful and from hand, even worse. Against such a well organised side as Scarlets the Warriors needed their 10 to be on the top of his game and although there was mention of an injury, he was hooked at half time in a move I believe was designed to get the Warriors back in the game. Unfortunately his replacement, Pete Horne, was just as bad and started scything kicks out on the full and cost the Warriors not only possession, but valuable territory. Rennie must’ve been tearing his hair out and yet, he’s picked Horne at 10 and Russell on the bench for the Connacht game! I think he’s a tremendous centre but there is no way that Horne is a 10. He’s an emergency 10 at best. I don’t know what Adam Hastings has to do to get a regular starting berth in the side and a chance to showcase what he can do but soon Russell will be departing and the Warriors need to A) Give Hastings more game time and B) find an experienced fly half or risk significant problems next season.
To add to Rennie’s problem, Ali Price seems to have lost the swagger of last season and is struggling badly. That interception try in the Wales game was almost exactly replicated (same pass, same interceptor, same result) in Llanelli and he looks devoid of confidence following these errors and the emergence of George Horne as a star attraction. Dropped to the bench as well for Connacht, the side is now looking at 2 of its main pieces slumping in form at a time they need them to be firing on all cylinders.
They weren’t the only ones struggling in fairness. The scrum was massacred at almost every turn and the side generally just didn’t look like they were ever going to get going. Losing George Turner and Ryan Wilson to injury really didn’t help the cause.
Now with Connacht on the horizon and the chance to confirm that home semi-final, the Warriors find themselves needing to make a statement of intent for the rest of the season
Glasgow must give a real 80 minute performance. They need to be strong in defence and ruthless in attack. Show no weakness and get back into the form that can win them the title. If they lose, then the will find themselves letting Munster back in the hunt for that home semi and with tricky ties against Ulster and Munster to come they could snatch a difficult trip to Llanelli or Bloemfontein from the jaws of a sold out Scotstoun and if that happens, then I see no party in Temple Bar next month…