Glasgow Warriors’s play-off hopes are all but over

Gregor Townsend admits it will take something special to secure a top-four place. Picture: SNS/SRU.
Gregor Townsend admits it will take something special to secure a top-four place. Picture: SNS/SRU.
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Scotland rugby’s high did not reach down to Glasgow as a third defeat in a row meant they are now outsiders for a place in the top four who will contest the Guinness Pro12 title.

After five successive seasons of semi-finals at least, Gregor Townsend’s team are 12 points behind Scarlets in fourth place, seven behind Ulster in fifth and only four ahead of the chasing Cardiff Blues after their one point win in Edinburgh.

“It is obviously a concern,” admitted Townsend. “We knew during this period we were playing three teams in the top six and we’ve lost to them all so it was a tough run of games, now there is no room for error.

“We have to have a pretty special run of games to get into the top four, but even though results have not gone our way the way the team has played in the last couple of games and the effort and smart rugby at times today was good.

“The top seven, if you include Cardiff as well, have been pretty tight. It will be the top five that are pretty close so teams outside that top five will have to win a lot of games and there are less games to play now.”

Those problems were deepened by a strange game strewn with refereeing mistakes which did not change the result but left both coaches scratching their heads afterwards. Townsend appealed for clarity and Ospreys coach Steve Tandy felt it was a laughing stock as the lack of referrals to the television match official was strange.

Despite the substantial numbers missing due to international action – and injury – both teams fielded decent enough sides of promising youngsters and foreign imports to be competitive.

One of those promising youngsters set the scoreboard going as 18-year-old wing Keelan Giles finished off a move which had been kept alive by fellow wing Dafydd Howells.

There is excitement in Wales about the international potential of Giles, for whom that was his 12th try in 11 games. Worse followed when Fijian centre Josh Matavesi powered over from close range, but Glasgow hit back as hooker Corey Flynn was powered over the line by lock Scott Cummings to reduce the arrears.

It meant Glasgow were still in touch at 14-7 down at half-time and able to take the lead early in the second half thanks to a Brandon Thomson penalty and a try by full-back Peter Murchie after a turnover near the Ospreys line.

Thomson missed the conversion taking it in a rush to avoid the referee calling it back for a clear high tackle by Rory Hughes on Giles.

What goes around comes around as the Ospreys were awarded a try by lock Tyler Ardron under the posts on the charge from a lineout drive. Luke Price drop-kicked the conversion in a rush to stop the officials reviewing a fumble on the line.

The theme of scores which should not have stood was continued when the Ospreys broke from their own half through Giles and Price. When the outside half kicked ahead it looked as though replacement centre Kieron Fonotia had stolen an extra yard offside as he won the chase to the ball and scored. Again it was not reviewed.

Neither side could break through further, with the Ospreys claiming a tenth bonus point win of the season breaking a league record shared by Glasgow and others.