Playoff Memories: PRO12 Grand Final Player Ratings

On Saturday 31st May Glasgow Warriors made history as the first ever Scottish team to win the Pro 12. These were the 23 players who made up the matchday squad on that famous day:

 

BACKS

Stuart Hogg – 8

Terrified the living daylights out of Munster every time he got his hands on the ball. When he went past Kilcoyne it looked unreal – like an old movie where they’d speeded the film up rather than genuine motion. The contrast to this time last year is stark and it’s clear that Hoggy has grown as a player and a person this season. Could be one of the stars of the RWC if Scotland get him the ball.

Tommy Seymour – 7

Marginally quieter than his back 3 colleagues but still considerably more dangerous than anything the opposition had to offer. Totally outshone Zebo, emphasising it by dumping him in the tackle (with an assist by Finn) and putting an exclamation point on it by (from a standing start) outpacing the Munsterman to get back and cover a dangerous hack through.

Richie Vernon – 8

Really came of age as a centre over the past 6 or 7 games and his partnership with Peter Horne lessened the impact of losing both Alex Dunbar and Mark Bennett. Played the game like an auxiliary back row and showed huge work rate in both defence and attack. Given that he only kicks the ball about once every 250 minutes his cross kick goes down as an RV collector’s item!

Peter Horne – 8

Showcased his defensive skills as the Glasgow midfield shut down almost everything the Munster backline had to offer. He had the most tackles among the backs but was also the unselfish lynchpin of an attacking effort where much of what he did was about creating space for others. Arguably the Warriors player of the season. Unarguably a massive contributor to the club’s success this year.

DTH van der Merwe – 8

Could have had a hat-trick even before he raced in (for what was, for the second week running, the clinching try).  He seemed desperate to be involved and made a massive contribution to the defensive effort, including the steal on the line the first time Munster came close. Also threw in a massive hit on Earls for good measure!

Finn Russell – 9

Mr 100% showed that he has it all – passing, running, kicking, decision-making, tackling were all spot on throughout the game. His defensive effort was particularly impressive – Munster may have thought they could target him with their big ball carriers but with 10 tackles made and none missed he showed he’s no weak link.

Henry Pyrgos – 8

Not flashy but he did most things right and provided a strong link between a solidly effective pack and a dangerous back line. Apart from a little sloppy spell in the first 10 minutes of the second half (when the whole team’s standards slipped briefly) his kicking was excellent. Has seemingly improved every year and deserves to be Glasgow’s first choice number 9.

FORWARDS

Gordon Reid – 8

Could be a coming of age for the man from Cumnock who looked stronger in the scrum than Ryan Grant in the closing weeks of the season. The big man is maturing nicely as he starts to reach the peak years for a prop. Unlucky to be penalised for Munster’s final points after the scrum collapsed when Guinazau went to hook a ball that was trapped in the tunnel. Celebrations featured shoulder-shuffling and champagne snaffling – classic Gordy!

Dougie Hall – 7

A fine send off for a man with almost 150 Warriors appearances under his belt. Brought in to solidify the scrum and the lineout which he did with aplomb as the Warriors were far more stable in both areas compared to the previous week against Ulster. A guy who has quietly gone about his business and Glasgow fans may not realise yet how much they are going to miss him.

Roussouw de Klerk – 7

A solid outing for a player who is beginning to show the Warriors faithful what he has to offer in what is a key position for the team. At various times this season he’s shown he can carry well, defend effectively and scrummage strongly and he threw a little bit of everything into his performance in the final. Great cover tackles on Zebo and POC close to the line were his undoubted highlights.

Jonny Gray – 8

Work rate off the chart as ever. Stuart Barnes’ description of him as one of the most improved players in the PRO12 had the usual whiff of bullshit about it given that Jonny has been superb from the moment he first stepped on the field for the Warriors. Now if he’d said he was one of the best players in the league we might have been onto something!

Leone Nakarawa – 9

Ridiculous, just ridiculous. The carries and offloads for the tries were uniquely Leone with the aggression and physicality to run over players and the skill and deftness to make the passes. Allied to this he made really good decisions about when to offload and when to just take the contact and his lineout work was also top drawer.

Rob Harley – 8

The engine room of a back row that dominated the break down and won the collisions, to set the tone for the rest of the team’s performance. His work rate to get into position to support Leone (including running straight through Keith Earls) and then bumping off Felix Jones to crash over, exemplified the spirit and attitude running throughout the team.

Ryan Wilson – 8

Out of position and starting a match for the first time in 3 months but absolutely stormed it with one of his best ever performances for Glasgow. His role was not to play so much as a traditional ‘jackaling’ 7 (although he managed to get over the ball on a number of occasions) but to counter the size of the Munster pack. Put simply Glasgow won the collisions battle comfortably – job done.

Josh Strauss – 8

Set the tone with one of his first rumbles of the day when he ran over opposite number and fellow South African, CJ Stander. Hasn’t been noted for his defensive work particularly (to be fair there’s other players in the pack selected with that in mind) but contributed 15 tackles in addition to his usual swathe of gain line busting carries.

SUBSTITUTES

Fraser Brown – took the ball up aggressively and contributed to the disruption at the breakdown.

Jerry Yanuyanutawa – only on a few minutes but still managed to get on Nigel’s bad side!

Jon Welsh – scrum was rock solid from the moment the 2 sides went to their front row replacements and Welshy was key to this for Glasgow.

Al Kellock – brought a calmness to the last 20 minutes and his soaring take ahead of POC shut off one of Munster’s few excursions into/near the Glasgow 22 in the last quarter of the match. Despite being on the bench he couldn’t resist getting in Nigel’s ear as the ref was leaving the field at half time!

Chris Fusaro – sneaked on ninja-style and proceeded to take down anything that moved as the Warriors closed down the men from Cork.

Niko Matawalu – the beaming smile showed he loved the pantomime reception when he got on the pitch. By that point his special brand of chaos wasn’t needed with the game wrapped up.

Duncan Weir – cool and calm under pressure and his 3-pointer eased the nerves of many a stressed out Warriors fan.

Sean Lamont – did he really pop his shoulder back in and get straight back in the defensive line?!? Didn’t get much sympathy from Nigel but silly penalty aside he wasn’t about to let anyone in red pass.


So are these ratings too low, too high or just right? Share your memories of that grand day out in Belfast below!

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