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January 19, 2007

Glasgow Warriors 6 - 6 Saracens

European Challenge Cup match played at Hughenden on Friday January 19th 2007 | 9 comments

Justin Va'a and the Glasgow scrum stood up to the powerful Sarries set-piece
The gutsiest of performances earned Glasgow Warriors the glory of a place in the European Challenge Cup quarter finals last night as they ground out a draw against one of the powerhouses of English rugby.

The odds stacked against them by the bizarre decision to play on the waterlogged Hughenden pitch this was all about desire and they demonstrated how badly they wanted to extend their involvement in this competition.

On a day when the Warriors youngsters discovered the downside of being apprentice professionals, conditions could hardly have been worse.

Torrential rain created pools of water all over what could barely be described as a playing surface and the young players had spent the day putting the club's newly acquired range of pitchforks to use, albeit with minimal effect.

From the off, both sets of players could barely stay upright and while it seemed natural that it would be a night for putting boot to ball, those trying to kick could hardly get purchase from their non-kicking foot.

Nothing could have been less well suited to the free-flowing style of game the Warriors coaches have been looking to encourage. By contrast, they seemed ideal for Saracens' powerful pack.

What pleasure Alan Gaffney, their head coach, took from that turn of events might have been mitigated by the withdrawal of Andy Farrell, the former Great Britain rugby league captain, from their side during the warm-up because of a stiff back.

However, that was about the only thing not in the visitors' favour since the vile weather also meant it was a far less hostile environment than they had anticipated.

The crowd was much smaller than had been hoped and the spirits of those hardy supporters who huddled on the terracing under umbrellas and waterpoofs were naturally dampened by the deluge.

It was never going to be a high-scoring game and the only points of the first quarter came when Dan Parks knocked over a penalty after the Saracens backs were caught offside at a ruck just outside their 22.

The stand off was given a an opportunity to increase the lead after Cobus Visagie, the ex-Springbok prop spoke out of turn, but looking for extra power, this time from further out, he slipped, sending the ball off course and past the right post.

What was striking was that, not for the first time, the handling of the Scottish side seemed better than usual in such conditions, but while they moved it efficiently it was almost impossible to generate the pace in their running to get through a committed defence.

Saracens were more incisive when they finally created an attacking opportunity releasing Richard Haughton on the left. The winger appeared unlucky to be denied a try as, after kicking ahead, he sprawled for the ball alongside two defenders.

Instead, the referee awarded a scrum on the five-metre line - a decision which came as a surprise to most within the ground.

Having given away two penalty tries in similar situations when the sides met at Watford earlier in the competition, the Warriors did well to disrupt their opponents and get away from their line.

They conceded a penalty in front of the posts for offside almost immediately afterwards which Glen Jackson kicked to level the scores, but in the circumstances they would have settled for that and it was level at the interval.

The Warriors pack held out once more when put under enormous pressure at a series of lineouts and scrums close to their own line early in the second half, but again ended up conceding a penalty when the backs lost their discipline and inched offside at a ruck under their own posts, Jackson putting his side ahead for the first time.

The response was mighty, the Warriors pack picking and driving their way downfield after a break by their captain Al Kellock, only for Justin Va's to knock on in contact as they made the final surge for the line. The pressure was maintained, eventually earning Parks two more penalty chances wide on the right and after he dragged the first narrowly wide the second was struck magnificently to level the scores once more.

Both sides knew a draw would suit them with Saracens winning the pool while their hosts qualified and in the end that was what both had to settle for.

Report from The Herald

Glasgow draw line in mud as both teams go through Lineen's men make last eight - The Scotsman

Sean: It's a muddy miracle - Daily Record

Glasgow Warriors 6 Saracens 6 - Saracens Official Website

Glasgow through to European last eight - Glasgow Warriors Official Website

Referee David Rosich(France)
Attendance 2570
Man of the Match Ally Kellock (on behalf of the rest of the squad)
Justin Va'a
Fergus Thomson
Euan Murray
Andy Newman
Alastair Kellock
Steve Swindall
John Barclay
John Beattie
Graeme Beveridge
Dan Parks
Thom Evans
Andrew Henderson
Colin Gregor
Hefin O'Hare
Rory Lamont
Eric Milligan
Kevin Tkachuk
Dan Turner
Andy Wilson
Jon Petrie
Sam Pinder
Colin Shaw
Match Substitutions
Off On
Graeme Beveridge Sam Pinder
Off On
Steve Swindall Andy Wilson
Off On
Andy Newman Dan Turner
Off On
Fergus Thomson Eric Milligan
Off On
Euan Murray Kevin Tkachuk
Dan Parks Penalty
Dan Parks Penalty
Posted by sunday5 on January 20, 2007 02:22 AM | Reply to this comment

I'm not sure I agree with much of this report. I felt that both teams were really up for it making the game was one of the best I've seen. Handling errors aside it was nerve shredding stuff. As for the crowd, it was large and loud. Very loud. There must have been many more than 2500 there, The stand was sold out when I tried to get a ticket at quarter to seven. Best of all though is that we seem to have finaly found a chant for our games! ALLEZ GLASGOW! The boys were superb tonight. Well done.

Posted by SCORPIO on January 20, 2007 08:41 AM | Reply to this comment

Would have to agree with sunday5. Was the reporter inside the clubhouse. Crowd made plenty noise and there were even occasional outbursts from the Sarries supporters. Considering the conditions, thought it was one of the better games seen this season. The boys were magnificent, considering the referee gave Saracens every 50/50 decision and anytime the ball sprang loose from two exceedingly muddy packs, it seemed to fall on the Saracens side. It is good to see that Glasgow can compete with this standard of opposition and in conditions more suited to "It's a Knockout".

Posted by gnasher on January 20, 2007 01:35 PM | Reply to this comment

Agree entirely. Having gone to Parma last week and seen the boys win 47 - 17 this was a far more exciting, enthralling match. Who says you need tries for entertainment. It was raw, full on and full of commitment. A superb effort from the forwards in particular. I think the Sarries website sums up the Glasgow effort - In the end Sarries held on for two points.

Posted by ballinj on January 20, 2007 02:37 PM | Reply to this comment

the problem with hughenden is that the noise dissapates very quickly. Have been in different areas during a game. The area next to the beer tent can be very loud and intimmidating however go to the area next to the entrance and you would think that there was no atmosphere.

As for the game well a draw was a far result. Handling given the conditions was superb and good to see glasgow's forwards fronting up to a much vaunted pack.

Posted by Stephen McMinnies on January 20, 2007 02:36 PM | Reply to this comment

This was a very enjoyable game to watch, with great committment from both sides and all supporters.

I particularly liked the two Pipers in the stand. They played well and the crowd nearby joined in with a rousing rendition of Flower of Scotland. I enjoyed it very much, and I'm English!

Posted by tall,dark and haggard on January 20, 2007 03:47 PM | Reply to this comment

Being a Scot on extended missionary work in heathen Yorkshire I was delighted that the team made it to the Quarters. When will we know where the game will be?

Posted by tall,dark and haggard on January 20, 2007 03:48 PM | Reply to this comment

Being a Scot on extended missionary work in heathen Yorkshire I was delighted that the team made it to the Quarters. When will we know where the game will be?

Posted by darraghgirl on January 20, 2007 05:03 PM | Reply to this comment

Looks like its more of the same at Vicarage Road - hope for better weather

Posted by sunday5 on January 20, 2007 07:46 PM | Reply to this comment

Forgot to ask who hired the pipers? Great idea!! I was across the pitch and the crowd were clapping at halftime! Well done Glasgow!!

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