Why did it go so badly wrong in the second half at Sandy Park?
Glasgow headed south to Sandy Park 13 months ago and were hammered 42-0 by the then European champions. The Warriors’ win over the same opponents at Scotstoun last month was an excellent performance and suggested they had come on leaps and bounds since the grim days of last winter.
So what, then, are we to make of this latest Sandy Park horror show? To concede 94 points in two matches in Exeter is wretched by any measurement, even if they are one of the top teams in the competition.
The way Glasgow collapsed in the final 30 minutes will be of huge concern to Danny Wilson. Warriors’ 17-14 lead early in the second half was turned into a 55-17 defeat as Exeter ran in 38 unopposed points in that fateful last half hour.
It was the first time Exeter had scored 50 points in a Champions Cup clash and Wilson needs a big reaction from his players when they host La Rochelle in their final pool match next Saturday.
The coach was shocked by the way the Exeter game unfolded given Glasgow’s recent form which has seen them climb into the top four of the URC as well as beat the Chiefs at home. Fans will be back at Scotstoun for the La Rochelle game and Wilson will feel he owes them after this.
All is not lost in terms of Euro qualification
The convoluted format of this season’s Heineken Champions Cup makes it seem like it’s harder not to qualify for the European knockout stages.
Eleven of the 12 teams in each of the two pools will have some sort of meaningful rugby to play after next weekend’s final round of group fixtures.
The top eight clubs from Pools A and B go through to the last 16 of the Champions Cup which will be played over two legs. The sides that finish ninth, tenth and 11th will drop into the Challenge Cup round of 16 (one leg).
Glasgow’s defeat at Exeter leaves them eighth in Pool A, clinging still to the hope of reaching the knockout phase of the elite competition with one group game to go, at home to La Rochelle next weekend.
However, Clermont Auvergne, two points behind them in ninth place, have a game in hand, a home fixture against Sale Sharks on Sunday. Eleventh-placed Northampton (who only have a point from two games) are also in action on Sunday, hosting Ulster.
The weekend could end with Glasgow outside the top eight but the chances of them missing out entirely on European knockout rugby are slim: Ospreys are bottom of the pile in Pool A, pointless after three rounds of fixtures with a final game to come next weekend away to Sale.
So, in summary, despite the walloping at Sandy Park Glasgow still have a fighting chance of making the last 16 of the Champions Cup and, if that falls through, they will almost certainly drop into the Challenge Cup.
Ryan Wilson deserved better
There’s not much room for sentiment in professional sport and so it proved for Ryan Wilson. The Glasgow Warriors co-captain has given his heart and soul to the side and Saturday’s match with Exeter Chiefs was his 200th for the club.
He was introduced from the bench in the midst of the hosts’ second-half onslaught but was powerless to prevent the flow of tries.
Wilson is only the second Glasgow player in the professional era to reach the double century. Unfortunately, it was not an occasion he will remember with much fondness.