The Verdict: Warriors v Connacht player ratings

BACKS

Glenn Bryce – 6

Like a lot of his backline colleagues he looks great with ball in hand but defensive work is not at the same standard. At 6’2″ but only 12st 8lbs he’s going to struggle to have the same impact when the games get really physical.

Junior Bulumakau – 6

Leaving the lineout throw that never was to one side he looked very lively. Fantastic clear out to win the ball back. Great energy to loop back round from the opposite wing as Glasgow pressed. His departure at half-time really disrupted the backline.

Peter Murchie – 5

With all the absentees in the backs and only 2 replacements the one thing that Toonie did not need was an early departure due to injury (for the second week running). Hopefully won’t be missing for long (and hopefully can get back to full back when he returns).

Fraser Lyle – 5

Horror show to start the game with dropped balls and missed tackles. Came into his own as Glasgow took control of the game. Peripheral as Connacht took control. Will Dunbar be fit to take the 12 shirt against Munster? Would we be better with Lyle backing up Clegg at 10.

Lee Jones – 6

Any young winger looking for an example as to the attitude and application needed could do worse than use Lee as an example. He’ll throw himself into any contact situation no matter the size of his opponent. The only outside back not to miss a tackle.

Rory Clegg – 7

7 from 7 from the tee ended up being the difference between the 2 sides (Connacht were 5 of 6). But while he came with a reputation as a good kicker it was the rest of his game that would have left the Warriors faithful feeling positive. Ran his backline in a Finn Russell-lite stylee (needs to work on his dance moves though).

Mike Blair – 7

After 88 passes (more than any Warrior in the past 2 seasons) those 34 year old shoulders will be pretty sore today! While the real measure of his contribution to the club will be the development of guys like Ali Price and George Horne, Mike showed last night he’s still got a lot to give in his role as a player.

FORWARDS

Alex Allan – 5

Solid showing in the loose including some sweet hands as Junior looped round him. His fundamentals have to be at scrum time though and he was part of a unit that toiled in the first half and then disintegrated after half time.

Pat MacArthur – 5

Lineout was decent but the Warriors need much more out of one of their most experienced players. With Fraser Brown away and Dougie Hall retired, Pat has a real chance to make himself the number 1 number 2 but performances like last night aren’t at the level he needs to be at.

Mike Cusack – 4

Carried well but no tackles made as Connacht’s pods played wider than he could get to. He’s there to lock out the scrum though and this did not go well. Driven off their own ball early in the second half, no wonder Toonie hooked the entire FR trio. Does Coo only have 40 minutes in him?

Scott Cummings – 7

Fantastic prospect. Has all the skills a lock needs and great for him to get this experience. Once the RWC second rows return get him on the same weights programme and diet used for Richie Gray 7 or 8 years ago. With another stone and a half / 2 stone on him he will be a serious operator.

Kieran Low – 6

Surprisingly good handling skills from the big man who was another who showed there was more to his game than we might have expected. He’ll go well as a big 6 rather than a smallish lock. Horrible numbers for missed tackles though which will be something to keep an eye on to see if there is a big weakness in his defence.

Rob Harley – 7

A try. 7 carries for 36 metres. 11 tackles with none missed. 3 lineout takes. Countless rucks hit. Big Bad Bob stepped up to his role as a senior player in fine style. Tried to get in the refs ear as the penalty count started to mount but Mr. Davies didn’t seem to keen on communication.

Chris Fusaro – 6

Big step up from last week as he carried well, made his tackles and crucially got himself over the ball, making turnovers and slowing down ball. Another who needs to really put a marker down if he wants to hang on to the starting jersey.

Adam Ashe – 7

Didn’t catch the eye a great deal live but watching back his huge work rate was evident. Top carrier with 20 and equal top tackler with 11 as he made a big contribution to the Warriors back row winning their battle with a very hard working Connacht trio.

SUBSTITUTES

Kevin Bryce – 6. His extra bulk solidified the scrum and his lineouts went well.

Jerry Yanuyanutawa – 4. Daft neck roll clear out and passed up the opportunity to carry when he really ought to have tried to smash it.

Zander Fagerson – 6. Unlucky to be the one carded. Scrum was stronger with him on and his workrate was good.

James Eddie – 6. Made 9 tackles in just 13 minutes as he threw himself at everything that moved.

Tyrone Holmes – 6. Another week, another strong cameo from the bench.

Hugh Blake – 6. So Blake’s 7 became Blake’s 13. Tough way to make your debut and he’ll look forward to getting a chance in his favoured position. Doubtful if any of our other 7s would have done so well covering in the backline for 65 minutes

Grayson Hart – 5. Not much time to make an impact.

Scott Wight – 4. Being positive he stood slightly flatter this week and tried to take the ball to the line. Some poor errors though and we maybe need to look elsewhere for 10 cover for the remaining fixtures during the RWC.

THE COACH

Gregor Townsend – 6. Game plan was working well until it was derailed by injuries and a resurgent Connacht. Maybe unlucky to lose a back 3 player (Bulumakau) and his back 3 cover (Murchie) so early but would Robertson, Godsmark or Fergusson on the bench have given more options? Decision to start Hart and particularly Wight in the first game looks increasingly unwise given the showings of Blair and Clegg last night.

OVERALL

It’s a bit like watching 2 different teams at the moment. In possession they show a lot of good control and build phases well, although there is a lack of penetration from the backline and the forwards need to do a better job of tying in the opposition to create space. Defensively they seem all at sea far, far too much of the time and a lot of one on one tackles are being missed – especially in the backs. Currently the best defence the Warriors have is dominating possession and that is what they will need to try and do if they are going to take anything from the next match against Munster.

The performance levels have not been up to scratch when allowing Scarlets to build up a lead and then letting Connacht back into the game. Forwards will spend the next 3 weeks working on scrums and mauls. Backs will be getting beasted on defensive drills. The thing that is hardest to work on in training is composure when a game is on the line. Last week, despite the awful start, the game should have been won in the closing minutes. This week there were golden opportunities late on to pick up the bonus point try and put the game beyond Connacht. Both times the calmness under pressure was not there and 4 points have gone by the wayside.

The positives are that there are 5 points on the board despite all the disadvantages faced playing at this time of the season and there are some players who are putting their hands up to still be involved when the squad is at full strength. A further 5 points has to be the absolute minimum from the remaining 3 fixtures during the RWC window if the Warriors are to stay close enough for when the second section of the season starts.

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