Rugby Wrap: Glasgow’s win not enough, Edinburgh slip to exit Europe

first_imgRussell and full-back Stuart Hogg, who combined well for the home side’s only try, are Scotland’s key attacking players and much like Jonny Sexton in Ireland or Leigh Halfpenny in Wales, both will automatically start for the national team if fit, regardless of their form.Maul worriesRacing managed a solitary try on the evening, courtesy of prop Cedate Gomes Sa from yet another driving maul close to the Glasgow line. The Warriors have now conceded six tries in recent weeks from this particular tactic, and until Gregor Townsend and his coaches find a way to stop it at source, and legally, opposition teams will continue to hurt his side with it.Townsend proud“There were a couple of tactical things we had to address at half time, such as kicking the ball too much”, Townsend reflected at full time. “We had to have patience and I thought the players really upped their intensity in the second half”, he continued, having given the likes of Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Alex Allen and James Malcolm a taste of European success in the latter stages.Launch pad for success Despite the game being effectively a dead rubber for both sides, Glasgow Warriors can use this impressive win as a catalyst to jump-start their title defence as they hope to welcome back the likes of Peter Horne, Mike Blair, Henry Pyrgos and Josh Strauss among others in the coming weeks.Their European ambitions may have been extinguished again for yet another season, but despite currently sitting outside the top seven in the Pro 12, Townsend’s men know that with two games in hand over the likes of Edinburgh, Ulster and Connacht, they can set their sights on another top four finish come May, having re-discovered that winning feeling.With all pools staging simultaneous final round matches, there was plenty of drama around Europe, not least in Pool 1 where Ulster hammered Oyonnax 56-3 at Kingspan Stadium.That crushing win came just as Saracens were seeing off four-times champions Toulouse with a second-string side in a 17-28 away win, sealing top seeding in the process.Pool 2 also had plenty of late drama as Exeter Chiefs sealed a first-ever Champions Cup quarter-final place by beating Ospreys 33-17 at Sandy Park. Paired with Clermont Auvergne’s shock 28-37 home defeat to Bordeaux-Begles, it ended both French sides’ interest in the competition.Scarlets suffered another defeat in a 10-22 home loss to Northampton Saints who joined Racing 92 in qualifying from Pool 3, whilst in Pool 4 Stade Francias defeated Leicester Tigers 36-21 in a result that ensured their quarter final meeting in April. Munster, as expected, ended their European campaign with a 5-28 away win at struggling Treviso.In Pool 5 Wasps secured home advantage in the last eight with an emphatic 51-10 thumping of former champions Leinster on Saturday, whilst current champions Toulon’s fortuitous 14-19 win at Bath secured their quarter final berth.Quarter finals – to be played on 8/9/10 AprilSaracens v Northampton SaintsWasps v Exeter ChiefsRacing 92 v ToulonLeicester Tigers v Stade FrancaisAlan Solomon’s side failed to progress. SNS GroupGrenoble 34-23 EdinburghWith 10 minutes left to play at Stade des Alpes on Saturday night, it looked as though Edinburgh had sealed a place in the quarter finals, as they led their Pool 5 rivals until South African star Gio Aplon’s late double took the contest away from them and a place in the last eight of the competition as a result.Blown opportunityAlan Solomons’ side had led 13-17 at the break thanks to early tries from flanker John Hardie, winger Will Helu, but their French opponents had stayed in touch through Jonathan Wisniewski’s boot and a 30th minute try of their own through hooker Arnaud Heguy.Edinburgh can only really have themselves to blame for their failure to qualify from Pool 5 which was hardly the most challenging of Challenge Cup pools, due to their sloppiness and failure to capitalise on early dominance.Positives for Vern CotterFrom a Scottish point of view, there were positive performances from Hardie, centre Matt Scott and scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne who contributed 13 points from the kicking tee on the night, but Edinburgh will be kicking themselves for allowing this game to be decided by their own errors, going from a winning and qualifying position, to a defeat and being knocked out of the competition thanks to results elsewhere.London Irish’s 7-31 win away to Agen meant that they overtook Edinburgh in Pool 5 thanks to their head-to-head, and progress from the pool at the Scots’ expense.Challenge Cup WrapConnacht registered a routine 47-5 win over Enisei-STM on Saturday to clinch top spot in Pool 1 as Newcastle Falcons beat Brive 27-23 in the pool’s other match.In Pool 2 Sale Sharks earned themselves a quarter final place with an impressive home win over Newport Gwent Dragons whilst Castres defeated Top 14 rivals Pau 24-7 in the pool’s dead rubber.Cardiff Blues ended their mixed Challenge Cup campaign with a big 74-6 win over Calvisano, whilst Montpellier defeated a weakened Harlequins 42-9 at the Altrad Stadium to join the English side in qualifying from Pool 3.Gloucester also joined them in the last eight thanks to a hard-fought 11-14 win in Zebre to clinch Pool 4 as La Rochelle defeated Worcester 35-11 in the pool’s final match.Quarter final line up – to be played on 7/8/9/10th April:Sale Sharks v MontpellierGloucester v Newport Gwent DragonsHarlequins v London IrishGrenoble v Connacht Having elected to omit the likes of Dan Carter, Juan Imhoff and Mike Phillips from their squad, Racing 92 knew that this was a game where they could afford to blood some fringe players. The French side had already qualified as Pool 3 winners, but hadn’t banked on facing a fired-up Glasgow pack who had been posted missing in action these last few weeks.Led by the superb Leone Nakawara, captain Jonny Gray and recalled James Eddie, the Warriors eight consistently made dents in Racing’s lauded defence and would have been further than 3-0 ahead at half time, had it not been for winger Taqele Naiyaravoro spilling a pin-point Finn Russell cross-kick yards from the line just before the interval.Superb second halfThe Warriors however, were far better in the second half with stand-off Russell dictating play with measure and confidence that has been lacking in recent weeks, which will be a major boost to Scotland coach Vern Cotter’s plans for the next few weeks. In the final round of European pool matches, Glasgow Warriors welcomed star-studded Racing 92 to unfamiliar Rugby Park looking to end their disappointing campaign on a high, whilst Edinburgh had their sights on a Challenge Cup quarter- final place as they travelled to Grenoble for a winner-takes-all clash, writes Finlay Morrison.Glasgow Warriors 22-5 Racing 92Having endured a month to forget, the near 10,000 fans that made the unfamiliar trip to Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park on Saturday night finally had something to cheer about as the Warriors made a long-overdue return to winning ways, and showed glimpses of their best rugby of the season against the Parisians.Rested Racing starslast_img read more