It says something about the shift in Scottish expectations that Glasgow Warriors can go to France, win with a bonus point and still return home talking about the improvements they need for the return fixture.
While dominating possession (60%) and territory (65%) against a useful Lyon Wolf’s pack, the one statistic that jumped off the page was the penalty count where Glasgow conceded 16 (plus a yellow card in the second half), more than twice the number of the opposition who were pinged seven times. With teams attempting to keep the penalty count in single figures, his team’s ill-discipline was a worry for coach Dave Rennie.
“We were disappointed to go down to 14 when Tim Swinson saw yellow. I don’t think our discipline was that flash today,” said the Kiwi coach in an interview with the Warriors’ website. “While you can debate the odd penalty, some of them were poor decisions on our part that put us under pressure. We’ve played with 14 recently and we know how to maintain ball in those situations and I thought the boys controlled that period pretty well. We only gave away six penalties last week and, in the last few weeks, we’ve kept the count to single figures. So that aspect of the game is disappointing.”
On the flip side, there was much for Rennie to smile about, not least the fact that his side have scored the maximum points from their last two games after that opening defeat at home to group favourites Saracens.
The young half-back pairing of George Horne, pictured, and Adam Hastings is simmering nicely with one try and two assists between them.
If Stuart Hogg failed to make his mark with the ball in hand, his boot ensured that Glasgow played the game in the right areas of the pitch and Adam Ashe was a revelation, unearthing the sort of performance that we have been hoping for and expecting since he first came to prominence all those years ago. Better late than never.
“We’re rapt for Adam,” said Rennie. “He got a couple of dot-downs but it was all the other work he did defensively, carrying, creative forward and so on. He was a big contributor.”
Ashe scored two tries, bookending efforts from George Horne, Hogg and Huw Jones, who took advantage of an interception and a neat dummy by Hastings to score with his first touch of the ball after coming off the bench.
The two second-half tries by Hogg and Jones in the space of just two minutes gave Glasgow a healthy 35-15 lead with a quarter of the match still to play and went a long way towards making this game safe for Glasgow after Lyon had scored two tries, one in each half, the second a little fortuitous. There was still drama in the final 20 minutes when Lyon replacements Charl McLeod scored a try and Marc Doussain converted to give the home side hope that they might salvage something for their efforts.
Swinson was in the bin and it seemed that Glasgow might struggle with just 14 men on the field but they have had some practice playing short-handed and the only other try of the match went to Ashe, who picked and drove over from a five-metre scrum.
The same two sides have it all to do again on Sunday. With zero points from three games, Lyon are sure to ring the changes, and Rennie promised that he too would freshen up the Glasgow squad.
“We’ll put a very strong side on the field next week, there will be changes. There’s not an awful lot between a lot of our boys and we want to reward performance and provide opportunities,” he said.
“There will be a handful of changes but we’ll be putting out as good a side as possible. We’re not going to look too far ahead. What we know is if we get it right next week we’ll put ourselves in a strong position heading into the last couple of rounds in January, starting with Cardiff at home. We’re desperate to be in the mix come the knockouts.”