No not the Nic Cage / Angelina Jolie movie with the questionable morals (and even more questionable dialogue) but rather Glasgow’s final score against Zebre that went from turnover to touchdown 1 minute later. Some tries are worth analysing for the insight they can give into a team’s tactics and structures. Sometimes though a try is worth delving into just because it was a lot of fun and there was so much going on!
It Is Opportunity That Makes The Thief
It all starts with a steal. After a Johan Meyer charge into the Glasgow 22 the Zebre support arrives just a fraction too late and Jonny Gray spots a chance to pilfer the pill. The big lock plucks it out with the speed and dexterity of an obstetrician before passing it on. There you go Mr. Horne – it’s a beautiful baby ball.
(D’arcy Rae’s wee sideways dance cannot go unmentioned here. Float like a butterfly…)
Glasgow are fortunate to have some handy groundhogs in the the back row as well as one of the best exponents of the midfield steal in the shape of Alex Dunbar. Around the fringes though it’s crucial that the tight 5 are contributing ruck turnovers and Jonny getting involved like this is great news for the team with tougher tests yet to come.
Rozza On A Roll
Following Gray the younger’s intervention the ball moves from Peter Horne to Lee Jones and the man from Selkirk advances up the touchline, then cuts back inside before getting dump tackled (which, incidentally, probably should have been a yellow card!) Scrum half George Horne digs the ball out to D’arcy Rae – who quickly decides that this is not his moment. He sends it on to Adam Hastings who loops a beautiful pass out to Rory Hughes.
Rory loves to go direct and he’s a great sight on the rampage giving a perfect target for Alex Dunbar and Matt Smith to blast over before he lays the ball back on a plate. All of a sudden the visitors are inside their own half and in a bit of bother.
Glasgow have missed Rozza. The local boy done good, he kicked off Dave Rennie’s first season with a couple of starts before long-term injury intruded. He loves the physical stuff and also provides a vocal presence in the back 3 in the absence of shouty Stuart Hogg. Wholehearted commitment is what you get from Rory – as he demonstrated against Zebre. Running down his opposite number on kick off chases. Securing the ball consistently on kick receptions. Fighting for every yard.
Adam Ups The Ante
With Greg Peterson temporarily acting as the world’s most giant scrum half, wee George is free to draw some heat and put Grant Stewart into space, leading to a triple offloading frenzy that takes Glasgow up to the Zebre 22.
After Academy hooker Grant starts the fun with a functional but effective drop off of the ball it’s Adam H’s turn. The confidence is clearly flowing as he pulls a Toony flip out of his locker to bring Niko into the game.
The Finn Russell comparisons have been pouring in for young Hastings (son of Gavin in case you hadn’t heard…) It’s not surprising really given they are both very attack-minded stand offs. In many ways though Adam is actually even more willing to take on the defensive line himself. The 22 year old already has more defenders beaten this season than Finn managed in the whole of the last campaign. The current incumbent of the Glasgow 10 shirt is a superbly balanced runner through contact and uses his height and reach to great effect to get through / over / around the tackler.
Niko gonna Niko (part 1)
Now it’s Niko’s turn to show off his handling skills after Adam’s intervention – alright young padwan, just remember who is the student and who is the master here…Following up, having trailed the play from the previous ruck, is Greg Peterson and he charges on into the 22.
It’s a noticeable difference from the first half – the passes are sticking, the right decisions are being made. Unlike Zebre’s lengthy, slightly side to side efforts when the Warriors get their passing and offloading game going there’s a real threat and penetration to almost every attack.
Strictly Come Alex Allan
More clearout work for the back row and the ball is on the move again. The half backs shift it on to Alex Allan – and the crowd holds its breath. This man has a history of getting those dancing feet moving and he doesn’t disappoint, throwing in not one but two sidesteps to leave Zebre defenders sprawling in his wake.
Everyone loves those occasions when the props do something very un-proplike. Alex’s finest moment came a couple of seasons ago when he threw a dummy so extravagant even Donald Trump would’ve suggested toning it down a bit and followed it up with a hot-stepping sideways shuffle to find the gap for a run in (untouched) from 25 metres against the Dragons. He’d even been at it again earlier in the season with some filthy footwork against the Cheetahs. It’s certainly a quality party piece!
Niko gonna Niko (part 2)
Numbers are low for Zebre as the ball comes back once more. Niko’s fulfilling his floating role, popping up in midfield this time. As the ball comes to him via the half backs he knows he wants to get on the outside of his man. There’s maybe also that instinct to top what’s gone before. This is the rugby equivalent of Crocodile Dundee’s “That’s not a knife” moment (“That’s not how you leave a defender for dead – this is how you leave a defender for dead”) as the flying Fijian unleashes some footwork at pace that sees Tomasso Boni completely bamboozled and in a position that can only be described as kneeling in supplication to the master.
From there on in it’s plain sailing with a huge overlap on the right hand side. Lee Jones unselfishly eschews the opportunity to keep the heat on George Horne as the top try scorer of the Renniessance. Instead he makes certain of the score by putting birthday boy Pete Horne in to complete an 80 metre, 60 second try that went through 11 different pairs of hands.
So what are the takeaways. Well, when Glasgow are in the mood they have a team full of players who play rugby with their heads up and take on what is in front of them. There is the freedom there to express themselves within Dave Rennie’s gameplan. Turnover ball is often the ideal opportunity to showcase this and once again they demonstrated a real killer instinct off the steal. In full flow it’s glorious to watch. Hopefully there is plenty more to come this season.