Glasgow Warriors give ‘biggest pack ever’ the runaround

Glasgow Warriors dominated the scrum against Racing. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
Glasgow Warriors dominated the scrum against Racing. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
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Oddly enough I was a little concerned when Glasgow scored their first try inside the opening five minutes; something like that can play to your vanity and make players believe that they are in for an easy 80 minutes.

When Glasgow scored their second touchdown against Racing after 13 minutes even this arch sceptic was beginning to believe. They got their third six minutes into the second half so leaving themselves time for a bonus point score that never did arrive and may prove costly.

Finn Russell tapped a penalty on 26 minutes and the whole crowd let out a collective “oooohhhhh” in appreciation of the stand-off’s brass neck. He was enjoying himself and so were the faithful.

Six days ago in Paris, Russell walked off with the man-of-the-match award and last night he picked up exactly where he left off against the same opponents. You must be doing something right when your opposite number is benched on the hour mark.

In the opening phases of the game the stand-off ran a diagonal line that kept the defence guessing and took him from deep inside his own 22 right up to the halfway line. He did the exact same again before half-time.

If some of his kicking from hand lacked the accuracy of last weekend he still managed to ensure Marc Andreu endured a miserable evening under the high ball.

One kick dropped so close to the touchline that the French winger stepped on the line a split second after catching the ball.

A little later Andreu was perhaps ten yards too flat and Russell threaded a kick in behind him with all the precision of a master craftsman at the top of his game, which is exactly what he is.

Naturally enough, Glasgow used their plastic pitch to give what Gregor Townsend dubbed “the biggest pack of forwards ever assembled” the runaround.

That was what we expected and, with some assurance, it was what Racing 92 had anticipated too. What no one had foreseen was what happened in the set scrum.

Glasgow won several penalties in this area and towards the end of the first half they turned the screw.

Zander Fagerson got his end up in one set scrum, some feat of strength for a tighthead, and Gordie Reid did exactly the same against the man mountain that is Benjamin Tameifuna, all 25 stones of the man.

I don’t know what Racing pay him but it would keep you and me in Milky Bars for a week or so but the Kiwi prop isn’t even remotely fit and, it’s worth remembering, Racing play what is considered open, fast running rugby in the Top 14. Tameifuna is a walking dinosaur, well a waddling one, a throwback to the days when props didn’t have to do anything other than prop.

The surprise isn’t that he was pullled at half-time, the wonder is he lasted that long. Fagerson is dynamic in comparison, but then so too are the pyramids of ancient Egypt.

Glasgow rode their luck a little in the second half when Racing finally got hands on the ball. French prop Eddy Ben Arous and flanker Laurent Wenceslas will both wake up this morning scratching their heads at how they failed to score when both men loooked like a sure thing from one yard out. The former spilled the ball, the latter was held up by Glasgow’s terrier defence.

Any team can have a good day but Glasgow have bested the French champs home and away and now must be considered contenders if they can get out of the group.