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December 11, 2005

Bath Rugby 31 - 26 Glasgow Warriors

Heineken Cup match played at Recreation Ground on Saturday December 10th 2005 | One comment

Graeme Morrison was yellow carded late in the second half, but had a impressive game
Despite Glasgow producing an impressive display of rugby, they just failed to capitalise on the performance to secure the win.

That they came within five points of Bath at what is considered a bit of a fortress on the banks of the Avon proves how well Glasgow played, but the fact remains that it does not matter how close the game is, but who won.

It was galling for Glasgow that this was their third admirable away performance in this year's competition but still they have gained no points. The losing sequence - and it will soon end if they continue to improve as they have this season - now stands at 22 consecutive matches with their last success being at Ravenhill against Ulster back in 1997/98.

But this was the one that should have broken it. They matched or at the least competed with a very powerful Bath pack, although the front five did tire somewhat near the end, Steve Swindall, John Barclay and John Beattie were hardly shaded by their Bath counterparts in the back row and Dan Parks outplayed Chris Malone at fly-half. That last one is not too difficult as Malone's default setting is to kick long and for touch but still Parks showed enough attacking intent and neat touches to suggest that Glasgow will remain an entertaining side to watch with him wearing the No.10 jersey.

One little chip-kick and gather in the 12th minute was exquisite and if essayed by another Dan - Carter of New Zealand - would have had the rugby aesthetes and purists crowing in delight, particularly as the break it created and ground it made culminated in a score in the corner for centre Andy Henderson.

However, it was not the good things that had Hugh Campbell, the Warriors coach, lamenting the defeat after the match. It was the little errors and the fact that he, his staff and team actually believed they had this game won. The wonderful thing for them all, once the dismay fades, is that they were right - they did have the winning of this game and just failed to complete it.

"I'm absolutely gutted to be honest," said Campbell. "It's a really strange feeling but the game could have gone either way. The Bath set-piece put us under pressure, line-outs in the second half a lot, but Steve Borthwick is one of the best if not the best at that, and yet we are playing an exciting brand of rugby and I'm delighted with the players. They are training hard, enjoying what rugby we are playing and we all want to show people what we can do. Glasgow Warriors are a side that have not been rated in the past but we all want this now."

'This', of course, is the breakthrough win. Defeating Edinburgh 46-6 was no fluke on the evidence of this performance.

"When we win one then we will win more as the confidence grows," added Campbell.

Which is also a truism of sport but if it is to happen, and to happen soon, they will have to eradicate some of the more basic errors. A kick for touch missed late in the first half allowed Olly Barkley to belt a speculative kick for position into the Glasgow 22. It bounced right, left, forwards and backwards and finally came to a rest six inches from the Glasgow line and in touch. It was cruel luck with Glasgow full-back Graydon Staniforth circling the ball bemused by its bizarre bounces, but that happens in sport. The costly part happened next as hooker Scott Lawson missed his jumper and Michael Lipman caught the ball at the back of the line-out unchallenged and barged over from two yards for the simplest of scores. The penalty for the error? Five points. The final deficit between the teams? Five points. Small things really do count in professional sport.

The start of the half was little better as they conceded a try in the fifth minute after a break by Lee Mears, but between these setbacks they played some thrilling rugby of their own and scored two tries. The Henderson one and another by Parks in the 20th minute gave them a 17-8 lead and showed exactly how good they can be. Malone sliced a fly hack from his own 22 and Glasgow countered with great intent and skill. The forwards rumbled and rolled to within one yard of the try line before stalling through lack of numbers and, when it came out to the backs, Parks collected at pace and went over next to the posts. Simple, aggressive, direct and very effective, it was no more than they deserved and, but for some neat work by Barkley and Michael Stephenson minutes later, would have ensured Glasgow dominated the first half.

All level at half-time really should have then been a points advantage for Glasgow on the resumption as Peter Short was sin-binned in the 42nd minute for tackling a runner without the ball. Glasgow failed to score in these crucial minutes, Rory Lamont most culpable when he dropped a pass on the left wing for a walk-in try. Parks then missed some difficult kicks at goal, Barkley simpler ones and it took until the 70th minute for the decisive score and that came from first phase when Salesi Finau scored in the corner from an attacking Bath scrum. Penalties were exchanged and Graeme Morrison received a yellow card and, apart from a late dash by Hefin O'Hare, the game was completed in Bath's favour. The mistakes had cost Glasgow a superb victory. But one that is definitely possible next week in the return fixture.

Referee Christophe Bendot (France)
Attendance 10,200
Man of the Match Dan Parks
Euan Murray
Scott Lawson
Kevin Tkachuk
Tim Barker
Craig Hamilton
Steve Swindall
John Barclay
John Beattie
Graeme Beveridge
Dan Parks
Rory Lamont
Andrew Henderson
Graeme Morrison
Hefin O'Hare
Graydon Staniforth
Fergus Thomson
Lee Harrison
Dan Turner
Gregor Hayter
Sam Pinder
Colin Gregor
Andy Craig
Match Substitutions
Off On
Kevin Tkachuk Lee Harrison
Off On
Graeme Beveridge Sam Pinder
Off On
Craig Hamilton Dan Turner
Off On
Scott Lawson Fergus Thomson
Off On
Euan Murray Kevin Tkachuk
Off On
Steve Swindall Gregor Hayter
Off On
Dan Parks Colin Gregor
10 minsDan Parks Penalty
13 minsAndrew Henderson Try 
13 minsDan Parks Conversion
20 minsDan Parks Try 
20 minsDan Parks Conversion
30 minsDan Parks Penalty
40+3 minsDan Parks Penalty
75 minsColin Gregor Penalty
Posted by Boxing Kangaroo on December 11, 2005 11:25 PM | Reply to this comment

Good to see the Glasgow men going well, and before this season's over they'll be winning a lot more than they lose. There are some positive signs appearing, and once the team gets the knack of regularly putting it all together, the team will be unstoppable.

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