Stormers test is ‘perfect’ game for Glasgow Warriors as World Cup players’ return intensifies competition
Influential players like Jack Dempsey, Sione Tuipulotu, George Turner, Matt Fagerson, Ali Price, Ollie Smith and Jamie Bhatti sat out the first two rounds of the United Rugby Championship following the World Cup but some if not all are expected to return. Pete Murchie, the Glasgow assistant coach, said the 34-26 defeat in Galway was all the more surprising given the way the Warriors had beaten Leinster 43-25 in their season opener. He expects the increased competition from the returning World Cup players to sharpen things up.
“Everyone is back in training, so they are available for selection barring the walking wounded and the guys being assessed. They’ve done at least one week’s training so we now have everyone back in together. There’s good competition between players with some difficult decisions to be made. The intensity in training through the week had been excellent and as good as I’ve known it and that’s why the game at the weekend was a surprise. The intensity in training didn’t give any clues that we’d be off it in the first half.”
Glasgow actually led 19-14 at the break but were overhauled after the interval. A late score from Jamie Dobie meant they at least secured a try bonus point.
“It was a poor performance and it was definitely frustrating,” added Murchie. “We turned the ball over 23 times, which is a huge amount and they got the better of us physically in the first half. We were pretty fortunate to be ahead at half-time and we had the wind with us, which was more than a ten-point wind. We were better in some aspects in the second half but our attack didn’t really click until the last 10 or 15 minutes.”
The Stormers will arrive in Scotland this week on the back of two wins from two and they are already a point clear at the top of the standings. They were champions in the URC’s inaugural edition and runners-up last season but they will be without their own World Cup stars at Scotstoun. Memories are still fresh of the way Glasgow defeated the Stormers last season and on that occasion the Cape Town side had all their big guns present. It will require a similarly physical and accurate performance on Friday if the Warriors are to prevail again.
“It was very physical, we won it in the last minute with a little chip through,” recalled Murchie of Seb Cancelliere’s winning try. “They were fully loaded, had all their big dogs playing - Manie Libbok, Damian Willemse - so it was a big statement win for us. Probably gave us the belief we could go on and beat anyone. It extended our winning run that went on for a long time against a fully loaded team that were flying high, as they obviously are this weekend as they are top. It’s the perfect game for us. Leinster was a great start for us, we weren’t happy with last weekend and we want to show what we are about this weekend.”
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