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October 22, 2006

Saracens 28 - 23 Glasgow Warriors

European Challenge Cup match played at Vicarage Road on Sunday October 22nd 2006 | 9 comments

Hefin O'Hare's try helped Glasgow to a bonus point
Glasgow left Vicarage Road with just a bonus point but for a long time they looked like they could be taking 4 points back to Scotland.

With the rain heaving down at Vicarage Road in a dismal Watford, Glasgow Warriors fought tooth and nail with every ounce of possession they had in their opening European Challenge up match and at one point led Saracens 16-3 but a second half fight back from the home side saw the match end 28-23 at the final whistle with ten of Saracens' points coming from penalty tries.

Saracens opened the scoring with a penalty after dominating the first five minutes of the game but from the restart, Glasgow had possession and from pretty much the first time they had their hands on the ball, they shipped it out wide for Francisco Leonelli to cross in the corner. The move was against the run of play but had worked beautifully and found the Warriors with ample space to stretch their legs. Dan Parks added the conversion.

Sarries hit back hard in attack but Glasgow's pressure defence forced Saracens' winger Ratuvou to spill the ball forward and throw it into the hands of Rory Lamont. From the resulting scrum, Parks cleared with a huge kick up field nearly into the Sarries 22 gaining Glasgow some much needed territory. With the play staying in that area of the field, the Warriors' pressure on Saracens ball eventually paid off at the scrum when Sarries were deemed to have held onto the ball after it had come out of the scrum and that gave Dan Parks another successful shot at goal just inside half way and to the right of their posts taking the visitors 10 points clear.

Saracens were up to their old tricks from the restart, boshing their way up midfield and making ground but Glasgow turned them round again and turned pressure in their own 22, in front of the posts, to their own advantage by forcing the knock on and getting the scrum, from which Parks subsequently cleared.

Play continued and again the right wing area saw Glasgow with a break from the scrum, but Beveridge's pass to Leonelli was called as forward. Half an hour in and Glasgow had still not had their hands on the ball that often but when they did, they were hungry to take it forward and open up their running as opposed to Saracens who were insistent on keeping it tight in the horrible conditions.

It wasn't all running backs out wide for Glasgow though as some mix and match play was in order. Captain Alastair Kellock plucked a clean ball from the lineout and the forwards crowded round him to rumble up the field, proving that the Warriors were a match up front too in this case.

Soon followed an awesome defensive display from the Warriors as no matter how many times Saracens tried a pick and go, the Warriors repelled them and maintained their territory. When Saracens eventually tried a clearance kick, John Beattie was on hand to stop the ball with his own foot before it took off and the direction of play turned in Glasgow's favour. The Warriors won another penalty and Parks slotted again to take them to 3-16.

However with a couple minutes of injury time added onto the first half, Saracens fought back. They worked their way up the field and headed for the Glasgow try line. A chip ahead took them closer to the Glasgow line than they'd been all half as the Warriors defence backtracked to try and control the skidding ball. Saracens tried to re-gather but knocked on just a metre out as the wet weather played havoc with the ball handling.

The home side had a strong resulting scrum and drove their way over the Glasgow try line for what everyone, apart form the referee, thought was a try. The man in the middle took them back to set the scrum again and this time they made no mistake, driving over the Warriors line and with bodies piling up, the Referee Tim Hayes eventually awarded a penalty try which Glen Jackson converted.

The second half started with no ease in the down pour but within three minutes, the Warriors were awarded a penalty out wide within kicking range but unfortunately it skimmed to the left of the posts.

In contrast to the first half, Glasgow had the opening territory in their advantage but when Saracens worked their way up the field, they were the ones to get the whistle in their favour and were awarded a penalty in front of the Glasgow posts for the Warriors having come round from the side at the breakdown. Glen Jackson again added three points taking the home side to within three points of the visitors.

Prop Justin Va'a was the next Glasgow man to make an impact as he went off on the hoof on a midfield break but fell awkwardly and couldn't get the pass away to his support. Saracens cleared from the resulting scrum and Glasgow were right back up into their own half again but keen to keep the ball in hand and run it out of their territory. Saracens had other ideas though and kept the pressure on in Glasgow's 22 and they made that pressure count as another rumbling forward drive took them over the try line, Kevin Yates emerging with the ball.

With the restart not going 10 metres, Saracens had the halfway scrum and broke away up the field but Glasgow's John Beattie was on hand to haul them down and Saracens were penalised for not releasing the ball. However, Glasgow were turned over and gave away another penalty in front of their own posts to let Jackson add to his total.

Very worrying scenes followed for Glasgow as only moments after he'd taken to the field, Donnie Macfadyen he had to leave again limping having looked like he'd done the splits in the middle of the pitch. This meant that the only forward left on the subs bench to replace Macfadyen was prop Kevin Tkachuk so he came onto the field and Glasgow played out the remaining 20 minutes of the game with three props in their forward pack.

Glasgow's back three's pace was tested several times as they raced behind their own line to retrace the Saracens kick ahead and going into the last quarter of the game, the home side looked to have caught their second wind and the supporters were in full voice.
With Saracens piling on the pressure with a scrum on Glasgow's try line, Glasgow looked to have turned the possession over and Pinder snaffled the ball away for Parks to clear, but the referee ran between the posts with his hand in the air, claiming that Glasgow had handled the ball out of the scrum illegally. Hence, another penalty try was awarded and Jackson added the conversion.

Rather than let their heads drop, Glasgow got right back up to the Saracens end of the ground and worked it through the hands at pace. However their final passes just weren't going to hand. When Glasgow's attack looked like frustration was getting the better of them, they kept their patience and worked across to the other wing. After some great drives by Justin Va'a and Andy Henderson, Hefin O'Hare finally sneaked over the line, curling himself under the defender and around the corner flag to touch down.

With the pressure on the visitors in the dying minutes of the game and the rain back on, the Warriors fought tooth and nail to attack with every ounce of possession they had but the last minute effort to close the gap was too little too late and the game finished 28-23.

Report from Glasgow's Official Site

Referee Tim Hayes (Wales)
Attendance 4,266
Justin Va'a
Fergus Thomson
Euan Murray
Andy Newman
Alastair Kellock
Andy Wilson
John Barclay
John Beattie
Graeme Beveridge
Dan Parks
Thom Evans
Andrew Henderson
Graeme Morrison
Rory Lamont
Francisco Leonelli
Scott Lawson
Kevin Tkachuk
Dan Turner
Donnie Macfadyen
Sam Pinder
Ruaridh Jackson
Hefin O'Hare
Match Substitutions
Off On
Thom Evans Hefin O'Hare
Off On
Graeme Beveridge Sam Pinder
Off On
Andy Newman Dan Turner
Off On
Fergus Thomson Scott Lawson
Off On
Andy Wilson Donnie Macfadyen
Off On
Donnie Macfadyen Kevin Tkachuk
Francisco Leonelli Try 
Dan Parks Conversion
Dan Parks Penalty
Dan Parks Penalty
Dan Parks Penalty
Hefin O'Hare Try 
Dan Parks Conversion
Posted by Allan on October 23, 2006 07:59 AM | Reply to this comment

I was there - we looked well up for it for most of the game. I was well-placed for the first penalty try - right at the touchline at the try line - and it didn't look like a try to me - I thought their guy knocked on over the line. They only really troubled us in our 22 twice and both times got penalty tries out of it. Other than that we had them in their half for a good bit of the game. Tragic. We could have won that one...

Posted by Big Blue on October 23, 2006 09:56 AM | Reply to this comment

The second one looked like a bad decision. To the naked eye and on the replay, it appeared Sarries kicked the ball out of the scrum.

Posted by vicki on October 23, 2006 02:15 PM | Reply to this comment

And if I hear one more Sarries fan congratulating their side on scoring great forward tries..... The point of a penalty try is that you didn't score them!!! The first looked like a knock-on and the second, as you said BB, seemed to be kicked out by a Sarries foot. Dan's reaction to the second PT being awarded summed it up.

Posted by DickT (Sarryfan) on October 23, 2006 04:21 PM | Reply to this comment

First PT came from incident before shove was on, penalty already given before the coollapse. Agree that the second seemed to be kicked out, couldn't see why it was given. Unfortunately we tend to be pleased over forward tries, as we don't seem to score many from back play. Looking forward to rematch

Posted by behindtheposts on October 23, 2006 08:41 AM | Reply to this comment

Maybe if the head coach had been there we might have made better tactical decisions!

Posted by aj on October 23, 2006 08:55 AM | Reply to this comment

How did the midfield function this week?

Posted by chiefter on October 23, 2006 09:02 AM | Reply to this comment

How did the midfield function yesterday?

Posted by sandy on October 25, 2006 01:20 PM | Reply to this comment

Despite the dubious penalty tries, Glasgow could and should have won this game. Saracens' backs were woeful in both attack and defence and had we played simple, straightforward rugby, we would have scored more tries than they did. What with our backs crabbing across the field thereby shutting down space and puting support players out of position, taking the tackle and going to ground instead of passing the ball either before or out of the tackle, not puting enough pace on the ball with the receiver taking it whilst stationary, too much kicking and giving away possession to a much stronger pack, one did not have too far to look for reasons why we failed to capitalise on what were very average opponents. Come on boys, let's get back to basic, direct rugby and expose these much vaunted sides for the pretenders that they really are.

Posted by terry on October 29, 2006 06:18 PM | Reply to this comment

As a sarrie supporter i have been surfing through your clubs website and agree with your members posts to a certain degree
The weather conditions were horrible which led to handling errors on both sides. Going on about the weatherI thought the ref should have had a bit more sense and let the game flow more freely under said conditions. Nuff said for now,nice result against Parma,
Look forward to seeing you guys in the new year.

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