Glasgow Warriors bounce back from European drubbing with Ulster victory

Glasgow Warriors' Stuart Hogg at full time after the win over Ulster. Pic: SNS/SRU/Bill Murray
Glasgow Warriors' Stuart Hogg at full time after the win over Ulster. Pic: SNS/SRU/Bill Murray
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Glasgow’s Zander Fagerson didn’t much enjoy his side’s trip to Allianz Park where the Warriors received a shellacking at the hands of Saracens in the Champions Cup quarter-finals but, on the basis of what doesn’t kill you, the burly prop thinks that some good may emerge from that particular car crash.

“It could be the making of our season,” he claims. “We played some great rugby to get into that position. Hats off to Saracens, they were absolutely outstanding last weekend and we simply weren’t on the money. As they have shown in the prem and the Champions Cup, if teams aren’t on the money they punish them.

“We got torn apart last week and it could be the making of us. Tonight, we’re one game in, what we have shown, the boys fired up and I am really proud of them.”

Fagerson was talking after Glasgow had pounded a useful Ulster side by 30-7 at Scotstoun on Friday night. The visitors scored first, inside the opening ten minutes, and then never again. Everyone played their past in a ferocious defensive effort but winger Tommy Seymour knocked the ball out an Ulsterman’s arms, on or over the Glasgow try line, not once but twice in the second half.

If Glasgow looked much like their old selves during Friday’s 80-minute match then so too did the elder of the Fagerson brothers who was a part of the Warriors front three who took Ulster’s set scrum apart. Such was Glasgow’s ability to milk scrum penalties that coach Dave Rennie conceded afterwards that the tactic had been their main exit strategy.

The coach also admitted that his players were playing for their careers after the Saracens fiasco; “Some guys were playing for their future in regards of the next few weeks and everyone understands we’re not scared to make big decisions around selection,” was how he put it.

Had Glasgow folded meekly again on Friday the players may not have been the only ones looking over their shoulders.

Fagerson is not long back after that long injury lay off with a broken ankle. We tend to assume that if a player is on the field he is good to go but the amiable prop – he insists on shaking everyone’s hand when entering the press room – is improving with every match and should peak nicely for the upcoming World Cup.

“What’s that?” he asks rhetorically, before answering his own question. “It’s my sixth game back so, yeah, I am sort of getting back to where I was at the start of the season. I’m just really enjoying being a part of this team and week on week I am getting more confidence, so nearly there.

“We’ve got a really good core group of front row players and a great pack.

“Last week wasn’t our best performance, we didn’t get the rub of the green sometimes last week, and this week we just stuck to our process and backed ourselves. I was chuffed for the boys, it was a really good pack performance.”

Glasgow remain three points clear of Munster at the top of conference A and on course for a home semi-final.

They also did Edinburgh a biggie on Friday – sending Ulster home empty handed can only help Richard Cockerill’s side in their bid for a conference B playoff place. Edinburgh host Ulster at Murrayfield next weekend.

Glasgow have two regular season matches left, Leinster away next weekend before they finish with the third derby match against Edinburgh at Scotstoun with a one week gap between the last two rounds for the European semi-finals to take place.

“To come out with a performance like that was ideal,” said Fagerson, “but if we don’t back up it doesn’t mean anything.

“Leinster away next week is going to be really tough. They have been in great form in the Champions Cup and the PRO14, the team to beat so looking forward to the challenge, if selected, really looking forward to getting stuck into them as well.”