Lyon v Glasgow Warriors: Something has to give in Euro battle and why history favours the Scots

Glasgow Warriors have never won a European quarter-final and Lyon have never even played in one so something has to give this weekend when the two sides meet in the last eight of the Challenge Cup.

Jamie Bhatti, centre, trains with Glasgow Warriors ahead of their European quarter-final in Lyon. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The French side may be relative ingenues when it comes to continental knockout rugby but they are the top-ranked side left in the competition after winning all four of their group games then seeing off Worcester Warriors in the round of 16.

They are also at home on Saturday evening against a Glasgow side who have struggled on the road all season. Danny Wilson’s side managed to buck that trend against Newcastle Falcons in the last 16, recording a good win at Kingston Park, and Jamie Bhatti thinks they can repeat the feat at Matmut Stadium de Gerland.

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Glasgow are just back from a short but gruelling two-game trip to South Africa where they lost URC games to the Stormers and Bulls. Bhatti expects it to be similarly tough in Lyon but believes the Warriors to come out on top - if they can win the physical battle.

“I played in the game against Lyon a few years ago when we won over there,” said the Glasgow prop. “They are obviously a different side now than they were back then.

“It will be similar to what we faced out in South Africa – they look like a good set-piece side. They also got some class players in the backs like Josua Tuisova.

“It will probably be won or lost up front. If we can match them physically as a pack, then we should come out on top because we’ve got the firepower in our backs to score tries.

“We had a good win down in Newcastle, albeit we fell off it slightly in the second half.”

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Glasgow did the double over Lyon in season 2018-19, beating them 42-22 away and 21-10 at home in the Champions Cup pool stage.

The victory in France was particularly impressive with Adam Ashe (two), George Horne, Stuart Hogg and Huw Jones bagging Glasgow’s tries and Adam Hastings kicking 17 points. Only Horne remains from that illustrious quintet and he is currently injured but there are a few survivors in the Glasgow squad. Oli Kebble started the game at loosehead before being replaced by Bhatti, and Ali Price, Rob Harley, George Turner, Fraser Brown and Matt Fagerson were also involved. Like Horne, the latter two are injured at the moment, as are Rory Darge, Scott Cummings, Kyle Steyn and Sebastián Cancelliere. It makes Glasgow’s task all the tougher as they try to break new ground by reaching a European semi-final.

“We haven’t really spoken about it,” Bhatti said of their previous quarter-final exits which all came at the hands of Saracens. “What we have discussed is the fact that we’ve been in this position before and that it is achievable.

Celebrations for Matt Fagerson and Niko Matawalu the last time Glasgow Warriors and Lyon met. Glasgow won 21-10. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS

“Lyon will be another massive test. It’s knockout rugby in Europe. These are the games you want to be involved in.

“This is why we play rugby. We said it in South Africa – playing in these big stadiums against some World Cup winners.

“It would be massive for everyone involved with the club if we can push on and reach a European semi-final.”


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