1784 days ago

Dragons breathe fire in European opener!

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Newport Gwent Dragons (14)32
Glasgow Warriors ………..(10)22

Newport Gwent Dragons got there fourth win of the season, as they beat Glasgow Warriors at Rodney Parade in the European cup. Glasgow had already played the Dragons this season, the Dragons suffering a narrow defeat.
This time a near full strength Dragons team took on Glasgow on a sunny afternoon, completely different elements to the first game. In a pulsating game of rugby the Dragons dominated the first few minutes as Glasgow were unable to get out of there own half. In the 5th minute Glasgow broke the dead-lock as Lome Fa’atua intercepted the ball in his own 22 to race away to score the games first try, Conversion by Colin Gregor. Glasgow in the next 10 minutes showed a lot of determination as they had many opportunities but were unable to take them, the Dragons held a strong defensive line. In the 19th minute referee Romaine Poite awarded a penalty against the Dragons, Colin Gregor stepped up to the mark and kicked between the posts. Not long after the Dragons were awarded a penalty fly-half James Arlidge stepped up to kick over the first points for the Dragons in the 22nd minute. The Dragons were now putting pressure on Glasgow and again kept ball in hand well. The 28th minute Dragons were awarded a penalty again as fly-half James Arlidge narrowed the scores down, we were within four points. Glasgow’s player Kelly Brown was yellow carded for deliberately killing the ball in the 35th minute. Three minutes later the Dragons turned possession into points as Gareth Wyatt dived near the corner to score the Dragons first try, James Arlidge didn’t manage to increase the Dragons lead by an extra two points. On the brink of half-time James Arlidge then dropped a goal to increase the Dragons lead by a further four points, the half-time scoreline Newport Gwent Dragons 14-10 Glasgow Warriors.
The beginning of the second half started well as we were awarded another penalty. Fly-half James Arlidge again kicked a further three points in the 43rd minute. Glasgow kept ball and turned possession into an extra five points when Max Evans dived over for a try, converted by Colin Gregor. Newport Gwent Dragons retaliated when they scored on the 57th minute when Gareth Wyatt dived over for his second try, James Arlidge missing the conversion. The 62nd minute just as we thought the game went quiet Colin Charvis powered over the line for the Dragons third try of the afternoon, converted by James Arlidge in the 63rd minute. Glasgow soon hit back as they scored another try by Alastair Kellock, Colin Gregor missed conversion. Dragons kept possession for the last part of the game when James Arlidge dropped a goal for Newport Gwent Dragons in the 73rd minute. Overall a great day in Europe for the Dragons. Final score Newport Gwent Dragons 32-22 Glasgow Warriors.

Tries: Gareth Wyatt (38,57), Colin Charvis (62).
Con: James Arlidge (63).
Pens: James Arlidge (22,28,43).
Drop-goals: James Arlidge (40,73).

Tries: Lome Fa’atua (5), Max Evans (53), Alastair Kellock(65).
Con: Colin Gregor (5,54).
Pens: Colin Gregor (19).
Y.Cards: Kelly Brown (35).

Att: 5,238
Ref: Romain Poite (France).

1796 days ago

Dragons get Tyne to smile with well earned win!

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Newport Gwent Dragons (13) 25
Newcastle Falcons (7)14

A blend of young and experienced Dragons won their third game in a row at Rodney Parade this evening. The Dragons gave debuts to some of their up and coming players. The game started positively for Newcastle and their much bigger forwards looked like they were going to cause problems for the young Dragons. After 6 minutes the Dragons opened their account with a penalty from Jason Tovey against the run of play. For the next ten minutes Newcastle piled the pressure on the Dragons, but a strong defence deservedly kept Newcastle out. In the 21st minute Jason Tovey broke away after a mistake by Newcastle. Ringer, Wyatt, Lott and Tovey handled then chipped the ball over the Newcastle defence, who chased the kick but Danny Williams failed to clear, Marc Stcherbina gathered and deservedly dropped over the line for a try, converted by Tovey. Shortly after Jamie Ringer was sin-binned for aggressively clearing out a ruck with his shoulder, as half time approached. Newcastle were awarded a penalty try when the referee penalised the Dragons for collapsing the scrum on the line, converted by Rory Clegg in the 41st minute. After four minutes of injury time Jason Tovey stepped up to the mark to kick another penalty, with the half-time score line 13-7 to the Dragons.
The second half began with the Dragons bringing on replacements Alex Murphy and Tom Isaacs, within five minutes Newcastle went ahead after wing Ollie Phillips out paced Tal Selley and kicked ahead to beat Dolman to the touch-down, converted by Clegg. At this point the Dragons needed to steady the ship. Connor came on to replace Gomer-Davies, Tovey moved to fullback and Dollman to centre. On 53 minutes a great roar from the crowd greeted Colin Charvis as he took the field to replace Dan Lydiate. With immediate effect Charvis’ knowledge and experience was just what the Dragons needed, as he stole the ball down the blind-side and released the impressive Tom Isaacs into space for the young scrum-half to scramble over for a try in the 62nd minute, with Jason Tovey converting. With under 10 minutes remaining the Dragons made sure of their victory when from broken play Adam Jones some how managed to get the ball away to Jason Tovey near the touchline for the young outside half to sprint clear and in for the Dragons 3rd try.

Tries: Marc Stcherbina (21), Tom Isaacs (62), Jason Tovey (73).
Conversions: Jason Tovey (22, 63)
Penalties: Jason Tovey (6, 44 injury time)
Yellow cards: Jamie Ringer (30)

Tries: Penalty try (40), Ollie Phillips (44)
Conversions: Rory Clegg (41, 45)

Att: 4,750
Ref: Rob Debney (Leicestershire).

1821 days ago

Dragons Self Destruct.

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Dragons 25, Scarlets 27.
Where to start with that, eh? It’s taken a few hours to calm down before writing this. We had 40 minutes of excellent rugby. The game we’ve been promised. Forwards linking with backs in a dynamic running game. And then we had 40 minutes of the same headless kicking game we suffered through in the Glasgow match.
We started well (and again…), Charteris taking the kick off from Arlidge, and the ball didn’t leave the Scarlets half for the next twenty minutes.
Stoddart fumbled, Martens didn’t find touch and a promising move broke down when Selley knocked on. Martens gave away a penalty for being on the wrong side of a ruck, and Arlidge slotted over the first points of the evening on 6 minutes.
Almost straight away Cooper gave away another penalty for not rolling away (how nice it is to write about Cooper buggering up, and it not mean a Drags player) and Arlidge took another three points on 9 minutes. 6-0 in under 10 minutes. Fantastic.
On ten minutes some excellent work at the ruck won us another penalty, which Arlidge just sent wide; oh well, never mind.
Nothing was going right for the Turk; Martens had a kick charged down, Meeuws knocked the ball on in his own 22. We set up a ruck from Adam Jones, the ball came out to Stcherbina who created space for Sidey. Sidey couldn’t quite make it on his own but shipped the ball left to Fuss who slid in with no trouble. Arlidge sliced the conversion to make the score 11-0 in 15 minutes.
Oh we were roaring, boys. The Turks looked positively shell shocked in the face of our attack. We were up on them so fast that they couldn’t do anything; there were knock ons and stupid decisions all round, as first one player then another was caught in the headlights of our intent.
It went to our heads a bit, maybe, and Parks was penalised for not rolling away, although it looked a little harsh to me. Blackie then got penalised for taking out the lifter in the resulting lineout, and Steve Jones managed to ping the penalty in off the post. 11-3 in 20 minutes. First time the Turks had been outside their own half.
Still , we recovered from that well, and went patiently through the phases, first one way, then the next, until finally their line broke and Arlidge punched the ball through; Fuss almost got to it, an all. The rain started hammering down, straight into the Turks faces, and they were in all sorts of trouble – Jones ran straight into Parks and bounced off chasing his 22 drop out, and play stopped for a good five minutes while he recovered.
The Turks were still giving away penalties, Lewis Evans was taking their ball off them in the lineout and Lyons was penalised for closing the gap, resulting in a five yard line. Reed tapped the ball down to Martens, who failed to gather. Willis barged through to get the ball down and a try was awarded, after a TMO decision. Arlidge got the extras to put the score at 18-3 after 28 minutes.
The Turks managed another rare foray into our half, and Parks gave away a penalty under the posts. An easy kick for Jones, to put the score at 18-6.
Charteris again got the restart, but was forced into touch, and the Turks ran it back at us. Lou Reed was turned over deep in our half, and Stcherbina pt in a walloping 80 yard touch finder to kee pus in the right half of the pitch. Some sustained pressure resulted in a ruck on the Turk line, from where Lewis Evans barged over in a great heap of bodies. It looked like Jones might have kept him out, so James Jones referred to the TMO. The decision came back – “I can’t see if it’s a try or not – five yard scrum, black ball” to which the ref, in an astonishing display of fair mindedness to us, replied: “ I asked if there was any reason I couldn’t award the try – if you can’t see anything I’m going to award it”
Arlidge again slotted over the kick, making the score 25-6 at 36 minutes.
We had a brief wobble after this – Lewis Evans gave a way a pen for offside, and Fussell ripped the ball off Stoddart in the resulting attack, only to carry it over. Slick awarded the scrum despite it being past time, and we had to wait for a five yard scrum to be reset and martens to knock on before going in.
Paul Turner was beaming in the halftime interview, although he warned with the wind the way it was that 25 points wouldn’t be enough, and we’d need to continue scoring in the second half to assure the win.
And then we have the second half. Into the teeth of a stiff wind, remember, although by this time the wind had stopped.
We gave away two penalties in five minutes; easy ones. The score went to 25-12 and the sinking feeling started in the pit of my stomach. After a cracking run by Daniel which left him injured Nathan Brew came on.
Slick Jones is a ref who goes with the side with the momentum, and with it against us we were getting pinged for everything. Selley gave away a pen right in front of the posts and got carded for his efforts. The Turk opted for a scrum in front of the posts, having brought Easterby and Macleod on; the good news is that we may have creaked a little, but things haven’t improved that much for them since last season, despite all the new signings. The Dwarf had come on for Blackie and all was well. The bad news is that they’d brought Roberts on for Martens. Martens would have ballsed it up, but Roberts didn’t and wormed his way over to score. Steve Jones missed the kick, leaving the score at 25-17. They’d scored 11 points in 12 minutes and we were the ones looking shell shocked.
Instead of retreating, regrouping and sticking it up the jumper every time we got the ball we hoofed it downfield into the wind and straight down the throat of Morgan Stoddart or Steve Jones. The ball was either hoofed back, with interest, into touch, or run back at us by Stoddart. Eventually Stoddart linked up to put Brew in. The pass may have been forward, but it would be churlish to moan; they were rewarded for an endeavour that we just weren’t showing. Steve Jones brought them to within a point with the conversion, giving us 18 minutes of play and just a single point cushion.
We got a rare second half penalty on 73 minutes for the Turks holding on in the tackle, on their 22, but we spurned the points and opted for the lineout, which promptly fell apart.
Brew almost scored again, but failed to hold on to Gavin Evans cross kick with the line just lying there, all open, ten metres away and no-one in front of him. It’s good to see some things don’t change. Jones almost got a drop goal at the end of normal time, but it went just wide.
Finally, four minutes into injury time, at a scrum deep in our 22 Robert Lewis went off his feet at the ruck, giving James Jones the excuse he had been looking for. He blew for the penalty, and Steve Jones chipped it over. 25-27, 77 minutes gone. No way back for us.

How can a team look so good, and then look so bad? Yes, the Turks made a lot of errors in the first half, but they were because of pressure. When we were put under similar pressure in the second half we started kicking possession away, when we needed to go through the phases and not give them a sniff of the ball.
It wasn’t just Arlidge, mind; Connor and Evans both were guilty – Arlidge managed to put the kicks where he wanted them to go, which was the main difference.
So – the bad points first:
Pointless kicking game. We saw it last week against Glasgow, and it came back to haunt us this week. High kicks, into the wind, down the throat of a fast fullback who loves nothing more than to run with the ball.
Weak tackling. Darren Daniels was nearly in for a try in the first half, but Stcherbina stopped him with an epic run across the pitch. If we’d made one of the previous four tackle attempts though such heroics wouldn’t have been necessary. Repeatedly rubbish tackling made Stoddart look a lot better than he is.
Appalling discipline. We gave away fifteen points in unnecessary, stupid penalties. Not entering a ruck correctly. Going off the feet when there’s only one opposing player at the ruck. I’ll let Joe off as that ball was definitely out when he got pinged.
Total lack of composure. Oh we sing when we’re winning, alright. When the pressure’s on we fold like the rocks at Cwmtudu.
Still, now the utter, crushing disappointment of it all has worn off a bit (you don’t believe me? My boy was crying his heart out come the final whistle; mind you, he’s only twelve weeks old) the positives are plain. Have you ever seen us play like we did in the first half before? We’ve ground out the wins before, and we’ve rumbled over the top of teams before, but I don’t ever recall us skipping over a team before. It’s a whole new thing for us.
There were plenty of positives to take away from the first half, at least. Last week wasn’t a fluke for Arlidge; it appears he really can control a ball. Stcherbina created space well for Sidey. Fussell had another good game; in fact our backline looked as good as it ever has in the first half.
Despite the Turks beefing up their scrum they still struggled – not as much as previous years, but we were sufficiently comfortable that we could face an attacking 5 yard scrum when Selley was in the bin with 7 men, leaving Joe to cover the wing position. If their scrum had been even close to ours they would of fancied a rumble over against seven men, but they couldn’t produce it. I think our scrum will cope with pretty much everything except maybe Toulouse this season, on that performance.
We were far more committed in the contact and the ruck; it took Easterby, one of the best back row players in the world, to come on and settle things down. Before that we were taking the ball off them at will, almost.
Charteris and Jones have improved loads over last season. Dynamic in the loose, Charteris was catching our own restarts.
Lewis Evans had an excellent game, scoring a try, pinching a lineout and being an all round pain in the neck for the turks, until he was replaced, apparently injured. Dollman was much improved at fullback as well, until he was likewise injured. He needs to be careful or he’ll be there full time.
A few more performances like that, a proper fullback, a bit of confidence and a whole bunch of discipline and we’ll be contenders. No HEC success this year, but maybe next.

Oh, and Steve’s lovely photos? That’s Charteris, that is. Jumping. In the lineout.

1824 days ago

Dragons 6, Glasgow 12.

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Well, in the words of some useless 90’s dance act, “things can only get better.” Ok, I know it’s the first game of the season, and that backline were on barely more than nodding acquaintance with each other, but come on, if that’s not our worst performance this season God help us. A small child in the Hazell Stand was heard to declaim in the second half “oh please, don’t let them kick it again!” A sentiment familiar to anyone who watched the match.
The weather was absolutely foul; there had been a pitch inspection at 3pm which concluded that the match could go ahead. The Dragons chose to defend the deep end in the first half, perhaps hoping that further rain would ensure that Glasgow fullback Stortoni would be in danger of drowning in the second half. There was no real danger of that, however, as Parks played defensive full back for most of the match, and Stortoni played as a centre.
We started brightly enough (how many times have I written that in the past season or two?). We rocked Glasgow back and forced them into committing a series of penalties that resulted in Arlidge, or shiny new Flyarf, knocking over our first points of the season after just five minutes of play. He also managed a neat kick that almost put Fussell in just after that, but the Glasgow defence scrambled well.
Glasgow started to find their rhythm though. Parks kicked long and nearly had Max Evans in on our left wing, but Ash Smith managed to race from the other side of the pitch and slide the ball into touch. Unfortunately he got a knock on the leg for his troubles and was replaced after a few minutes limping by Shaun Connor on 18 minutes.
From there on things started to go downhill. We engaged in a game of aerial ping pong, with Parks returning every kick with interest. We started to give away penalties in our own half, with our own Parks, Richard, coming in from the side at the ruck and deliberately slowing the ball down, according to Clancy. Dan Parks missed the first one, but got the second to level the scores on 27 minutes.
We managed a smashing 15 phases of pick and drive toward half time after a cracking break from Joe, making a yard or a half each time, with Blackie and Willis nearly scoring, only for Richard Fussell to knock the ball on over the try line. Wayne Evans hopefully looked up after grounding the ball to see Clancy call for a scrum. And that was that.
Halftime had its usual effect; we came out half asleep, the opposition came out on fire (and how many times have I written that? Can we stop giving the team ovaltine and a pie in the dressing room?). Glasgow really took the game to us and the resulting infringements meant Parks scored an easy penalty two minutes in to put Glasgow in the lead.
As we warned in the prematch write up, Parks started with the cross kicks, almost putting Fa’atu in with a giant hoof down field. Wayne Evans got to it, but carried it over before Fa’atu drove it over the dead ball. Parks (again with the Parks?) did a tidy looping move from the resulting scrum that would of put Fa’atu in if the pass hadn’t been three feet over his head. Despite Parks demonstrating once again that he is a one trick show pony (heh) Fa’atu paid the price, being subbed for Andy Henderson, Max Evans moving to the wing.
We proceeded t obutcher a tidy chance by kicking a penalty to the corner. Our first lineout was dragged down as soon as it turned into a maul, but we pressed their line with a series of pick and drives, winning a second penalty. Again we kicked to the corner, spurning the points or the winnable scrum. This time Glasgow piled in the players to the lineout, winning it and clearing their lines.
This was the point where the match took a nose dive for us. During one of the rounds of kicking Connor tagged Thom Evans on the arm after he had kicked the ball. It was a silly thing to do but Evans milked it by performing a football style dive and appeal. Clancy was duly gulled into awarding a penalty and sin binning Connor. Parks then went on to prove that the weather wasn’t fazing him by landing the penalty from almost halfway to make the score 3-9.
Tkachuk and Palepoi came on for Va’a (who didn’t scrummage legally once, as far as I could see) and Barker. While this didn’t have the disastrous effect on our scrum as it did last season (mostly cos Clancy wasn’t recognising our superiority, and awarding penalties and free kicks on a rota basis), it did completely bugger our line-out.
We shortly swapped Blackie for the Dwarf, who coped pretty well with the Glasgow tighthead, making the veteran resort to all sorts of nonsense with illegal binds to try and deal with the youngster. He’s also speeded up a bit, as seen when Charteris managed an interception deep in the Drags half to pound away upfield. He was caught just inside the Glasgow half; the only Drags player to be anywhere near him was the Dwarf, unfortunately too far behind to catch Charteris’ wild basketball pass, but still. Good work from two formerly cumbersome forwards.
We brought Lee Harrison and Grant Webb on with about five minutes to go – too late to influence anything, although maybe Rhys was getting tired of trying to shunt the immobile mass that is Tkachuk. Again, we woke up in the last five minutes and realised that we were still 6 points behind, not before Parks made it 9 points behind, though. We forced a flurry of penalties from Glasgow resulting in Beattie getting a yellow card. Connor fluffed his first penalty attempt, but scored a second in injury time, at which point we played like demons trying to keep the ball alive and get down the other end. Didn’t manage it though, the ball went dead and Clancy blew up. First home defeat of the season.
So what went wrong? Basically, a lack of imagination coupled with some of the problems of last season rearing their ugly head again. We persisted with a game plan that played to Glasgow’s strengths; they’ve got an epic kicker and a fast back three, so why did we kick down their throat all the time? They’ve got a good back row, so why did we not support our runners properly and prevent the turnover? It was obvious in the first half that these things weren’t working, so why did we persist with them until there were only about two minutes of normal time remaining at the end of the match?
We had the beating of them in the tight, as was shown the twice we tried to pick and drive, so why didn’t we do that more often? The conditions should have given us a head start, but instead, because of our backlines poor acquaintance (I hope), it just meant we committed a slew of handling errors.
Things that particularly annoyed me:
1. We don’t chase our kicks. I’d hoped with an entirely new backline this might have changed from last year.
2. Our discipline was poor. Again, the most obvious offenders were new players. That’s not to say that anyone stood out positively, mind.
3. We still miss our first up tackles.
4. Our rucking will be found out.
5. Lack of imagination.

Warren Gatland talked last season about earning the right to go wide; tying up the opposition and creating the overlap. This was something we singularly failed to do.

Were there positives? Of course there were. James Arlidge appears to be that holy grail that we have been searching for – a Flyarf who can put the ball roughly where he wants it to go. All, he needs to do is start wanting it to go to better places. His hands seem to be as accurate as his boot, and he didn’t clothesline anyone, or disappear into the bottom of a ruck once, but stayed upright and did his job. Hwre.
Fussell was outstanding. He seemed to be making up for the rest of the back three on his own, being everywhere in defence and the only attacking runner we had.
Bearman likewise was epic, as usual. Made all his first up tackles, I think, and proved to be a right handful for the opposition, and has lost none of last seasons pace.
Gustafson had a good twenty minutes as well. He’s hard to stop once he gets going, and he got going more than once.
Adam Jones worked well in the lineout, showed up in the loose, and was much improved on last season.
Our scrum was solid, despite skulduggery on the part of Va’a and Low. It’s not our fault that Clancy has no idea how to ref a scrum.
And talking of Clancy, perhaps if he’d grown a pair and carded one of the Glasgow players sooner after issuing a general warning then the game may have been different. As it was he issued three or four penalties after telling the Glasgow team he was going to start carding them before he actually did produce a yellow card, with just a couple of minutes to go. Having said that, we had the talent and skill to take that game and shake it apart. It reflects poorly on us that we chose to let Glasgow win it.

My man of the match? Fussell. Absolutely.

Newport Gwent Dragons: A Smith (S Connor 18), T Selley, R Sidey, M Stcherbina, R Fussell, J Arlidge, W Evans, A Black (H Gustafson 63), T Willis (captain), R Thomas (L Harrison 75), A Jones, L Charteris, J Bearman, L Evans (J Ringer 65), R Parks (G Webb 75).

Scorer — penalties: J Arlidge, S Connor.

Glasgow: B Stortoni, L Fa’atau (A Henderson 55), M Evans, G Morrison, T Evans, D Parks, M McMillan, J Va’a, D Hall, M Low, T Barker (O Palepoi 62), A Kellock, K Brown, J Beattie, J Barclay.

Scorers — penalties: D Parks (4).

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland).

Attendance: 4, 113.

1985 days ago

Dragons Slump

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we started brightly enough, enjoying plenty of territory and possession; however we were unable to make it pay, with Aled Thomas missing two penalties, one off the post, and every time a Glasgow player got the ball we missed our first up tackle, meaning we were scrambling backwards and out of shape. Joe deserves a shout for the desperate ankle tap on the hooker, but we were lucky not to leak a few more tries. Glasgow’s defence on the other hand, a sort of misshapen blitz, was functional and efficient, despite being early once or twice too often for Alain Rolland. In the end, we were bound to be penetrated, and Max Evans (Thom Evans, according to the Argus) managed a run-in virtually unopposed to score on 19 minutes. Parks converted and we were 0-7 down, somewhat against the run of play. Parks potted a penalty a few minutes later to put us 0-10 down.
We picked ourselves up in the second quarter though, with Aled getting two penalties in quick succession, and Rolland looked like he was reaching for a yellow after yet another ball killing exercise from the Weejies. We started to put together some good backs moves which eventually paid off with Gareth Wyatt running in from the 10 metre line, Dan parks unable to quite catch him after steaming in from the opposite touchline. Aled missed the conversion; if only Gareth had run in a little… oh well. We went in at the break 14-10 after a last minute penalty.
Half time had it’s usual strange effect – the players came out determined to let Glasgow show what they could do, which was basically tighten things up, slow things down and starve us of the possession we had enjoyed in the first half. We didn’t help ourselves mind, as we seemed determined to knock on at every opportunity. Whereas in the first half we had been able to rumble Glasgow off their ball at the scrum, and disrupt their lineout successfully, in the second half we were far more polite. Rhys Thomas gave away a kickable penalty on 15 minutes and Parks obliged by kicking the pen and bringing the scores to 14-13. We had another 5 minutes or so of looking like a team, without return, before it all started to go horribly wrong. Parks managed a fantastic cross kick from the Hazell stand touchline to find Max Evans on the other side of the pitch, in the corner, and there was little Joe could do to stop him flopping over the line with the ball. Parks got the extras to put the score at 14-20, with 20 to go. If we had found the fire of the second quarter we could have done something; as it was a slew of substitutions, mostly with negative effect, gave us the look of 15 strangers on the pitch. We started chasing the game, needing a converted try to rescue the situation, and it showed in the error count. Slick moves from the first half fell apart as forwards found themselves caught out on the wing; Adam Jones threw a blind pass over the touchline, as did Michael Owen. We started to knock on even more, kicks got charged down or were sliced, the ball came out of rucks with no-one there to get it, passes went to no-one. woeful. Finally Rolland blew up to put us out of our misery. First time the Drags have lost at home to Glasgow.
Really can’t think of too many positives, there. Joe Bearman was our outstanding player, again. Richard Fussell had his best game in a long time, covering his own position, and Kevin Morgan’s. Dai Pattinson looked pretty handy, especially when we were shoving Glasgow off their own ball. Colin Charvis lasted 80 minutes, although he looked knackered by half time. and that’s it.
Our scrum was handy in the first half, but by the time Gethin Robinson and Tkachuk came on in the second half the roles were reversed. likewise when the hookers changed on both sides our lineout dominance evaporated.
As for negatives, it’s hard to know where to start. Aled Thomas had a shocker, really. missed 11 points, missed his tackles, kicked a restart straight into touch, failed to get the backline moving forward and stood level with the fullback at the set piece; really way, way too deep. It’s time to give Phil Dollman a run out at 10. Every time the ball started moving along the line we’d lost 10 or so yards. Talking of which, we had, on at least three occasions, a lovely move where the ball shuttled from one side of the pitch to the other, through the hands, going back a yard or so each time, so that by the time we were finished we’d carried it back into our own half, nearly. This isn’t the way to beat the blitz defence, surely? In the mean time we had no defence at all, it seemed. We regularly missed our first up tackles, leaving us with no shape whatsoever, and when we did complete a tackle it seemed to take three or four of our players to bring one of theirs down, leaving great holes all over the park. likewise at the ruck there were usually three times as many of our players in a great heap, meaning Glasgow had men over to do what they wanted with. Our skill levels have gone down, as well, it seemed. The handling errors were appalling, but nowhere near as bad as the lack of imagination. Stortoni was often up in the line, leaving holes behind, which a decent chip or grubber could have exploited. as it was, the few times we did try this, it pootled straight into touch, or over the dead ball line, or into the hands of a Glasgow defender in the line.
Finally, too many of the players looked disinterested, and unmotivated. The rumour is that there are a fair few off at the end of the season, more or less confirmed by Paul Turner in his post match interview, and it looks like they have end-of-term fever. Shocking for players who are being paid to do something I presume they enjoy. I can’t imagine after yesterday’s performance Colin will have much taste for another season with us, which would be the biggest shame of all.

Argus report here

Argus comment here

Scotsman report here

<September 2013 

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