FRASER Brown was in forgiving mood when asked about Simon Berghan’s stamp on his head in Saturday’s 1872 Cup match, describing the Edinburgh tighthead prop’s action as “good-natured fun”. It is unlikely that a PRO14 disciplinary panel will feel quite so charitable when they convene in Dublin on Thursday to assess the incident, although the fact that the Glasgow hooker emerged relatively unscathed should tell in Berghan’s favour.
Referee Frank Murphy sent Berghan off for dangerous play in the fifth minute of the game at BT Murrayfield, in which the home team beat the Warriors 18-17. The Edinburgh forward will face the panel via video conference, and is unlikely to be able to plead that there were any extenuating circumstances such as provocation or self-defence.
Sanctions for a breach of Law 10.4(b) – “A player must not stamp or trample on an opponent” – start at two weeks for a low-end offence, five weeks for a mid-range offence, and nine-plus weeks at the top end. Once the panel decides which category Berghan’s action falls under, they will then decide if there are any mitigating or aggravating factors. The maximum sanction, imposed in extreme cases, is 52 weeks.
Speaking shortly after the match, Scotland hooker Brown had some bruising on his forehead but was inclined to play down the incident. “It’s all right, actually,” Brown said. “It was just one of those things. I think it was an accident. I spoke to Bergs afterwards: it wasn’t malicious. It looks so innocuous; it’s those ones that can catch you out. I think he has seen my back and has gone to put his foot on my back in good-natured fun and caught my head.
“There was nothing in it: you just have to be so careful with boots in rucks. These days safety is so paramount in the game – it’s headline stuff.”
Unsurprisingly after Glasgow’s failure to take advantage of having an extra man for 75 minutes, Brown’s prime concern was how he and his team-mates were going to address their shortcomings in order to ensure that Saturday’s second 1872 Cup match at Scotstoun will have a different outcome. He is certain that the Warriors squad know what they have to do to get on top of their rivals; the key, he believes, is having the patience required to gain the upper hand.
“We prepared really well,” he said. “We knew what we wanted to do – we just didn’t execute, didn’t play our game. We just have to manage the ball, control the ball, cut out those mistakes and get to multi-phase.
“If we get to multi-phase we’ll open teams up. We have a brilliant back line, obviously, but also some really powerful runners in the forwards with good skills. We need to get to multi-phase to exploit spaces, get some offloads in and get some shoulders to run at.
“I think we turn over the ball more than any other team in the league at the moment – that’s the nature of the kind of rugby we aim to play, but we have to realise when we have to hold on to the ball and make teams work harder in defence. They were down to 14 men, had a tighthead prop who was going to have to play 76 minutes and has not played a lot of rugby at this level. There was a bit of naivety from us. We need to learn and need to learn quickly.
“Edinburgh played well and we didn’t play well – we didn’t stick to our shape, we didn’t stick to our structure. It feels like we say this every time we come to Murrayfield to play Edinburgh. We just played really poorly. We didn’t hang on to the ball. We spoke all week about keeping the ball, going through the phases, cutting down the mistakes.”
Brown went on to say that he felt the Warriors had done the basics right when it came to winning ball and providing attacking platforms. What they will need to do on Saturday to ensure they end up on the winning side this time is make better use of those platforms.
“The set piece functioned really well. Scrum time they were down to seven and it was a bit of a mess, but we felt we had the edge; they were trying to step round to the left and create a bit of an angle. The lineout went pretty well – we missed the lift for one ball and that was the only one we lost in the game.
“The set piece functioned well, but it’s about what we did with the ball afterwards. We turned it over too many times: knock-ons, missed passes, ruck retention.
“Rarely did we get into five-plus phases and get into our shape. When we did, the ball was slow. They did a good job of slowing our ball down, but we’re a good enough team to generate quick ball, and we didn’t do that.”