Glasgow At The Crossroads

Glasgow 19, Borders 42Glasgow halted at the inevitable crossroads tonight on the route into Europe next season. Defeat by the Borders at Hughenden took them to the signpost that pointed up to the Heineken Cup, down to the Parker Pen. Another loss and they will have no escape path on to the high road.However, Glasgow can camp there for two months. Their troops will go off to other duties. Those returning from international experience may breathe new life into the Glasgow cause. But in April, when they regroup for the Bank of Scotland Pro Rugby Cup finale, Glasgow will need to win all three remaining games to claim a Heineken Cup place next season. That is the simple, blunt fact of the current situation.In the Pro Cup competition, Scottish rugby's European qualifying tournament, Glasgow have already played five and won none of them. Only a Hughenden draw with Edinburgh has broken the losing sequence.Tonight Glasgow played only their second home game in the tournament, and that - in forward planning - was one to be banked as win. So it ought to have been. But mistakes cost Glasgow dearly in defeat by five tries to three in an entertaining game of ebb and flow. Four of the Borders" tries were gifts. That try-count also gave the Borders a bonus point, and that could turn out to be crucial in the final countdown to decide who, as last in the competition, is sent into European rugby's second-tier tournament.Kiwi Searancke, Glasgow's head coach, acknowledged the problem afterwards. "We"re playing well in patches. But it's critical the times ball was turned over. It's very frustrating." His opposite number, Tony Gilbert, paid tribute to how his midfield had created those turnovers by putting Glasgow under pressure. However, as has previously been suggested in this column, Glasgow put themselves under pressure by trying to play too flat off slow ball.After 26 minutes the Borders were 19 points up. Yet Glasgow had had more than half of the game, at least in territorial terms.Even a penalty lineout in the visitors" 22 could not be exploited. Glasgow lost their own throw-in, Campbell Feather exploited out of the confined space on a run to halfway, Doddie Weir carried on to the 22-metre line, and Gareth Morton finished off with a try that Tanner Vili converted. That was after only eight minutes, and when Vili struck a post with a penalty Glasgow might have wished that the ball had not rebounded. Instead, Gary Armstrong" break let Semo Sititi run in a try. Vili again converted.Calvin Howarth then struck a post with a penalty. But Glasgow were not so lucky. Nothing came that. Nor could Glasgow exploit a willing half-break by Ian McInroy. Instead, the Borders turned the ball over, and though Glenn Metcalfe saved from Nikki Walker kick ahead the Borders made the pressure pay with a scrum-five, an offside penalty, and Scott's try from the lineout. It was the only try that Vili did not convert.Glenn Metcalfe, a bright light for Glasgow on a dark night, then sprinted through after Rory McKay and Joe Naufahu had set up the platform. But Howarth missed the conversion, and when Andy Nicol released a loose pass it was more meat for the Border predators. Kevin Utterson's break led to Morton's second try.Just before the interval Glasgow snatched what ought to have been a lifeline off Jason White lineout take. The forwards drove it, and Andrew Wilson scored. Howarth converted, and the Borders were cut back to 26-12 at half-time.Any hope of a Glasgow revival, however, was dispelled in the first minute of the second half. A loose pass by Gordon Bulloch was eagerly snapped up by Walker, who ran from 20 metres inside his own half to score. That was 33-12, and the Borders were out of sight.Ten minutes into the second half both captains departed the fray. Nicol was replaced by Chris Black, and Armstrong was shown a yellow card. Glasgow, however, almost failed to exploit their numerical advantage. The 10 minutes were almost up when, midway in the second half, percussion hammering on the visitors" goal-line eventually yielded a try for the persistent Nathan Ross. Howarth converted, but Vili killed off the home team with three penalty goals in the final quarter.Glasgow - Glenn Metcalfe; Jon Steel, Ian McInroy, Joe Naufahu, Stuart Moffat; Calvin Howarth, Andy Nicol (captain); David Hilton, Gordon Bulloch, Andrew Kelly, Nathan Ross, Jason White, Andrew Wilson, Donnie Macfadyen, Gordon Simpson. Substitutes - Rory McKay for Macfadyen (27 minutes), Chris Black for Nicol (50), Cameron Blades for Hilton (54), Rory Kerr for McInroy (60), Barry Irving for Howarth (71).Tries, Metcalfe, Wilson, Ross; conversions, Howarth (2).Yellow card - Simpson (73).Borders - Tanner Vili; Nikki Walker, Jono Stuart, Kevin Utterson, Gareth Morton; Gregor Townsend, Gary Armstrong (captain); Paul Thomson, Steve Scott, Bruce Douglas, Doddie Weir, Colin Stewart, Andy Rennick, Semo Sititi, Campbell Feather. Substitutes - Iain Fairley for Stewart (53), Richard Metcalfe for Armstrong (61), Stephen Cranston for Stuart (61), Shaun Longstaff for Walker (71), Mark Lee for Feather (71), Simon Gunn for Scott (71).Tries, Morton (2), Sititi, Scott, Walker; conversions, Vili (4); penalty goals, Vili (3).Yellow cards - Armstrong (51), Sititi (78).Referee - Jean-Pierre Matheu (France).Attendance - 2631.Glasgow 19, Borders 42Glasgow halted at the inevitable crossroads tonight on the route into Europe next season. Defeat by the Borders at Hughenden took them to the signpost that pointed up to the Heineken Cup, down to the Parker Pen. Another loss and they will have no escape path on to the high road.However, Glasgow can camp there for two months. Their troops will go off to other duties. Those returning from international experience may breathe new life into the Glasgow cause. But in April, when they regroup for the Bank of Scotland Pro Rugby Cup finale, Glasgow will need to win all three remaining games to claim a Heineken Cup place next season. That is the simple, blunt fact of the current situation.In the Pro Cup competition, Scottish rugby's European qualifying tournament, Glasgow have already played five and won none of them. Only a Hughenden draw with Edinburgh has broken the losing sequence.Tonight Glasgow played only their second home game in the tournament, and that - in forward planning - was one to be banked as win. So it ought to have been. But mistakes cost Glasgow dearly in defeat by five tries to three in an entertaining game of ebb and flow. Four of the Borders" tries were gifts. That try-count also gave the Borders a bonus point, and that could turn out to be crucial in the final countdown to decide who, as last in the competition, is sent into European rugby's second-tier tournament.Kiwi Searancke, Glasgow's head coach, acknowledged the problem afterwards. "We"re playing well in patches. But it's critical the times ball was turned over. It's very frustrating." His opposite number, Tony Gilbert, paid tribute to how his midfield had created those turnovers by putting Glasgow under pressure. However, as has previously been suggested in this column, Glasgow put themselves under pressure by trying to play too flat off slow ball.After 26 minutes the Borders were 19 points up. Yet Glasgow had had more than half of the game, at least in territorial terms.Even a penalty lineout in the visitors" 22 could not be exploited. Glasgow lost their own throw-in, Campbell Feather exploited out of the confined space on a run to halfway, Doddie Weir carried on to the 22-metre line, and Gareth Morton finished off with a try that Tanner Vili converted. That was after only eight minutes, and when Vili struck a post with a penalty Glasgow might have wished that the ball had not rebounded. Instead, Gary Armstrong" break let Semo Sititi run in a try. Vili again converted.Calvin Howarth then struck a post with a penalty. But Glasgow were not so lucky. Nothing came that. Nor could Glasgow exploit a willing half-break by Ian McInroy. Instead, the Borders turned the ball over, and though Glenn Metcalfe saved from Nikki Walker kick ahead the Borders made the pressure pay with a scrum-five, an offside penalty, and Scott's try from the lineout. It was the only try that Vili did not convert.Glenn Metcalfe, a bright light for Glasgow on a dark night, then sprinted through after Rory McKay and Joe Naufahu had set up the platform. But Howarth missed the conversion, and when Andy Nicol released a loose pass it was more meat for the Border predators. Kevin Utterson's break led to Morton's second try.Just before the interval Glasgow snatched what ought to have been a lifeline off Jason White lineout take. The forwards drove it, and Andrew Wilson scored. Howarth converted, and the Borders were cut back to 26-12 at half-time.Any hope of a Glasgow revival, however, was dispelled in the first minute of the second half. A loose pass by Gordon Bulloch was eagerly snapped up by Walker, who ran from 20 metres inside his own half to score. That was 33-12, and the Borders were out of sight.Ten minutes into the second half both captains departed the fray. Nicol was replaced by Chris Black, and Armstrong was shown a yellow card. Glasgow, however, almost failed to exploit their numerical advantage. The 10 minutes were almost up when, midway in the second half, percussion hammering on the visitors" goal-line eventually yielded a try for the persistent Nathan Ross. Howarth converted, but Vili killed off the home team with three penalty goals in the final quarter.Glasgow - Glenn Metcalfe; Jon Steel, Ian McInroy, Joe Naufahu, Stuart Moffat; Calvin Howarth, Andy Nicol (captain); David Hilton, Gordon Bulloch, Andrew Kelly, Nathan Ross, Jason White, Andrew Wilson, Donnie Macfadyen, Gordon Simpson. Substitutes - Rory McKay for Macfadyen (27 minutes), Chris Black for Nicol (50), Cameron Blades for Hilton (54), Rory Kerr for McInroy (60), Barry Irving for Howarth (71).Tries, Metcalfe, Wilson, Ross; conversions, Howarth (2).Yellow card - Simpson (73).Borders - Tanner Vili; Nikki Walker, Jono Stuart, Kevin Utterson, Gareth Morton; Gregor Townsend, Gary Armstrong (captain); Paul Thomson, Steve Scott, Bruce Douglas, Doddie Weir, Colin Stewart, Andy Rennick, Semo Sititi, Campbell Feather. Substitutes - Iain Fairley for Stewart (53), Richard Metcalfe for Armstrong (61), Stephen Cranston for Stuart (61), Shaun Longstaff for Walker (71), Mark Lee for Feather (71), Simon Gunn for Scott (71).Tries, Morton (2), Sititi, Scott, Walker; conversions, Vili (4); penalty goals, Vili (3).Yellow cards - Armstrong (51), Sititi (78).Referee - Jean-Pierre Matheu (France).Attendance - 2631.