1872 Cup reaction: “That’s the worst half-time speech I’ve given” – Mike Blair

Glasgow Warriors head coach Danny Wilson laments his team's poor discipline and turnover rate

Danny Wilson and Mike Blair have a chat before yesterday's 1872 Cup clash. Image: ©Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Danny Wilson and Mike Blair have a chat before yesterday's 1872 Cup clash. Image: ©Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

MIKE BLAIR says he can take no credit whatsoever for Edinburgh’s forceful start to the second half of yesterday’s 1872 Cup clash against Glasgow Warriors at Murrayfield. He reckons his players deserve the credit for taking ownership of the situation with a constructive half-time discussion.

Despite leading 13-6 at half-time, the capital side had struggled to impose themselves during the first 40-minutes and the game was very much in the balance. But they fired out the blocks after the break to score the game’s decisive try through No 8 Magnus Bradbury, and didn’t look back.

“I said to Calum MacRae [Edinburgh’s defence coach] as we walked up to the technical box for the second half: ‘That’s the worst half-time speech that I’ve given’,” revealed Blair after the game. “So, it shows that it had absolutely nothing to do with what happened in the second half because we came out and were excellent.


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“The players started taking more responsibility in the half-time talk, which is something I’ve really tried to push. I want them running things.

“When I went in, they were already starting to problem-solve and talk about what was important in the second half. Everyone spoke. It wasn’t a rammy, but it wasn’t just one or two people talking.

“These games are difficult, they’re so often nip and tuck, but they’re also about momentum, and I felt that we stole momentum at the start of the second half,” he added.

While his team struggled to find their stride during the first half, Blair was pleased with the grit his team showed. “They had a lot of possession and pressure on us for the first 10 minutes or so and we defended really well and got the first points on the board,” he reasoned.

“It was a little bit of a contrast to the Scotstoun game [against Glasgow in March], where they had a couple of turnover opportunities that they took. We probably created a couple more tonight through our defensive pressure or errors from them, and we were able to get some points on the back of that. We were pretty clinical with our opportunities as well.”

Last night’s victory means Edinburgh will head to Cape Town in a fortnight’s time to take on the DHL Stormers in the United Rugby Championship’s play-off quarter-finals.

“What a great tournament – playing a quarter-final in Cape Town against a really strong team – and it’s going to be a brilliant challenge for us,” concluded Blair.

 

Meanwhile, opposite number Danny Wilson struggled to shed any light on why so many of his senior players failed to rise to the occasion, and in fact shot themselves in the collective foot with some woeful indiscipline and a general lack of composure.

“It was a disappointing result and performance,” he acknowledged. “The numbers that really stood out were our penalty count and our turnover rate. Especially the types of penalty we gave away, that was really unlike us. It’s an area we’ve improved a lot this season, but that went back the other way in this match. It was a derby and our discipline was poor.”

Wilson chose his words carefully when asked about the yellow-carding of veteran Rob Harley for slapping the ball out of Henry Pyrgos‘ hands as the scrum-half attempted to move the ball away from a base of a ruck, right under the nose of referee Andrew Brace, and having already been warned about his conduct.

“It’s hard to be too critical of a guy I’ve got huge respect for and who has done a brilliant job over a long period for this club. It was probably just a rush of blood,” he said.

“When we did create some speed of ball and get in behind, we failed to execute,” he continued. “Our turnover rate was too high. It was just inaccuracy at times.

“We also missed a few tackles just after half-time and gave a few penalties away on the bounce. They scored at a crucial time just after half-time, which gave them a cushion.

“Although results haven’t always gone our way away from home, some of our performances have been good. But tonight wasn’t one of our better ones.”

 

This defeat means Glasgow now face a near impossible mission to Dublin to take on Leinster – winners of the last four titles – in the URC quarter-finals in two weekends’ time.

“We’ve been tested in a number of massive away games recently. There’s been periods in games, like Lyon away, where we had a good lead. We need to get to that level of rugby again,” suggested Wilson, unconvincingly.

“I look at our season as a whole, for about 80 percent of it we were around the top four in the league, had some massive wins and played some good rugby. Where we’ve fallen away is the tail end of the year. Five away games on the bounce has taken its toll.

“We haven’t won enough games on the road. That’s the story of our season. We’ve been excellent at home, but inconsistent on the road.

“We will go to Leinster as underdogs. We’ve got to use that, and go there and have a crack. We’ll go there and try and fire a few shots.”


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About David Barnes 3041 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

5 Comments

  1. I totally agree with your assertions, Rod….Glasgow Warriors have been going backwards for some time now as some results confirm. Poor away performances at Benetton and Cardiff gave rise to the loss of at least 8 League points which, when added to the defeat at Scarlets, proved crucial in the final analysis. Glasgow could have achieved 2nd, 3rd or 4th place with a much better points differential than 33. The SRU, Glasgow coaches and SOME of the players should take a good look at themselves…..there is little doubt that changes are much needed.

  2. Glasgow played their typical meaningless side to side getting nowhere, then followed by a fairly poor kick chase. Time for a new set up. We’ll destroy poor Huw Jones whos had a really good season with Quins. This is poor, we’re in the tier 2 competition the team will be mullered in Leinster. Time for a significant change.

    18
    • I’d have to agree here. There is little evidence of any imagination at Glasgow right now, and that is down to the coaching staff. They come up with the strategy.

      I watched the last two Leinster games and the difference is easy to spot. Lots of penetrating moves, very little static ball, and the gain line gets challenged constantly. The speed of their defence in the press, and the recycle of the ball is so intense very few teams can deal with that.

      What Glasgow are playing right now is rugby by numbers. Its painful to watch.

      10
      • Its lets go left, now lets go right – oh we’ve just lost 10 metres let’s put up a poor kick and give it to the opposition. Woeful from a team that used to have great attacking Rugby ingrained in their DNA – don’t the SRU listen – things have to change!

      • Despite all that’s been said about Glasgow some of their issues should be readily fixable. In most of the matches they’ve lost they’ve had at least 50% possession which means that generally the forwards are doing their bit in providing ball. The problem comes in what they are then doing with it. I remember ‘Geech’ saying that the 1990 Scotland team was never going to achieve 50% possession so they had to make sure they did something positive with what they did have. I think Glasgow need some of that attitude along with some more creative attack coaching.

        There is clearly something wrong with the mentality, too many stupid penalties and too many winning positions surrendered. Maybe bring in a new psychologist with some new ideas. Maybe also pick one of the youngsters, maybe Darge, as captain and fix the on-field leadership.

        The second half performances suggest either conditioning isnt the best or the strength in depth isnt there. Maybe the target for the summer should be to get back to being one of the fittest/fastest teams in the the league.

        The other thing that needs looked at is the turnover rates which must be amongst the worst in the league. A lots of that is about basic skills and teamwork which for me comes down to the coaching.

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