Plotting Glasgow’s route to the quarter-finals

An opening round defeat at home to Northampton left Glasgow staring down the barrel of elimination from the very start of the Champions Cup. Back to back wins in the rounds 3 and 4 double header (for the first time in the club’s history) raised hopes of progression but with another defeat – away to Racing 92 – the Warriors are drinking at the last chance saloon as they reach the vinegar strokes of the pool stages.

Glasgow’s own part in the final rounds of the competition is simple – anything less than 2 wins from their away fixture against Northampton and the home game versus Racing 92 will see the Weegies crash out of Europe before the quarter-finals for the 9th season running.

If the Warriors were to pull off 2 big victories that would leave them on 17 points – 18 if they can manage that rare beast, a try bonus point in Europe, or 19 if they pull off (frankly miraculous) back to back BP wins. With Racing potentially sending a weakened side to Scotstoun (or maybe somewhere else?) with their own qualification already signed and sealed scoring 4 tries in the final round may not be entirely unrealistic.

Most of the other group runner ups will likely finish on similar points totals. With only 3 of the 5 second place teams to qualify, bonus points could be the crucial element in progressing to the latter stages. If teams are tied on the same number of points then the tiebreakers are:

(i) aggregate points difference (Glasgow’s is currently +5)
(ii) tries scored (Glasgow have scored 9 in the first 4 rounds)
(iii) players suspended (none so far for the Warriors)
(iv) drawing of lots (given the club’s luck so far this season? Nae chance)

Pool 1:

Expected winners: Saracens c. 27 pts
Expected runner up: Ulster 17-19 pts (current points difference +23, current tries scored 11)

What do the Warriors need to watch out for?
Step 1 involves supporting Saracens (don’t worry you can shower afterwards and we will never speak of it again). A Sarries win with no losing BP for Ulster – and in an ideal world a big hit to their points difference – would be just the ticket. Oyonnax are unlikely to upset the odds at the Kingspan in round 6 but if they can deny the Ulstermen a try BP it will be 17 points on the board for the runners up in pool 1.

Pool 2:

Expected winners: Clermont c. 20 pts
Expected runner up: Exeter 18-20 pts (PD -12, tries 10)

What do the Warriors need to watch out for?
With Exeter in a strong position to finish with 2 wins – away to Bordeaux and at home against their rivals for 2nd place, the Ospreys – the best Glasgow can hope for is that the Devonians lose their way to the try line and win a couple of scrappy games with no bonus points. This would see them finish on 18 points and still (just about) within reach of the Warriors – points difference could settle things. An even better finish from a Glasgow perspective would see the Os lose at home to Clermont and then win their final match against the Chiefs. With no BPs in either game this would leave the Pool 2 runners up on 16 points.

Pool 4:

Expected winners: Leicester c. 23 pts
Expected runner up: Stade c.22 pts (PD +66, tries 19)

What do the Warriors need to watch out for?
It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Leicester could go all out in round 6 and win in Paris in order to ensure they avoid a return journey to France in the semis. If that happens then Stade will find themselves slipping back towards the other 2nd placed teams with 4 wins. Given their healthy points difference and hefty number of tries scored they would still have to be the most likely of the runners up to qualify.

Pool 5:

Expected winners: Toulon c. 20 pts
Expected runner up: Wasps 18-20 pts (PD +77, 11T)

What do the Warriors need to watch out for?
It’s a similar story to pool 1 with Wasps likely to lose away to the eventual group winners in round 5 but in a strong position to finish with a win at home in round 6. Glasgow will be praying one of their old Pro 12 rivals can conjure up some Leinstertainment from somewhere and swat Wasps – or at the very least deny them the bonus point – in a match that kicks off immediately prior to the Warriors’ own final pool fixture versus Racing 92.

Progression in Europe is not completely out of reach but it requires some key results (and bonus points) to fall in Glasgow’s favour:

Round 5:
Ospreys lose to Clermont (no BP for Os)
Saracens beat Ulster (no BP for Ulster)
Northampton lose to Glasgow

Round 6:
Ulster beat Oyonnax (no BP for Ulster)
Glasgow beat Racing 92 (with TBP)
Exeter lose to Ospreys (no BP for Ulster)

This sequence of results would leave Glasgow on 18 points, Ulster 17 and Ospreys 16 and see the Warriors progress to the promised land in Europe!


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