A SEASON which promised so much at the outset for the Warriors washed up on the rocks at Scotstoun last night when they came a distant second to Scarlets in their Guinness PRO14 play-off semi-final.
Here is how the players rated –
15. Ruaridh Jackson – 6 out of 10
A late call-up when Stuart Hogg succumbed to food-poisoning. Came close to sparking things a couple of times but Scarlets kicked clever and defended well which meant he was always up against it. Will be quietly satisified overall with how the season has gone since his return home from the Aviva Premiership.
14. Tommy Seymour – 5
We know he was playing because he was on the team-sheet but he never really got into the match. Life can be pretty frustrating as a winger sometimes and hopefully the next month off will help this talented player recover from his season-long Lions hangover.
13. Nick Grigg – 5
Rounded by Patchell with almost embarrassing ease for Scarlets first try with less than four minutes played. Yellow-carded early in the second-half for kicking the ball out of a ruck from an offside position right under the nose of the referee, and Scarlets rumbled over for try number four after kicking the subsequent penalty to the corner. Hit a great line at 8-28 which exposed the first chink in the Scarlets’ defensive armour, and was rewarded for his resilience when he scrambled over the line for Warriors’ second try with 15 minutes to go.
12. Sam Johnson – 6
Had one encouraging attempted breakout from his own 22 early in the first half, but spent almost all of the next hour chasing shadows against a far slicker and more forceful Scarlets midfield, until the 66th minute when he finally got motoring again with powerful midfield break.
11. DTH van der Merwe – 6
Looked dangerous when he got a chance, but that didn’t happen very often. Showed real power and determination to make ground up the left touchline in the lead-up to Gray’s try.
10. Finn Russell – 6
Not the swan-song he was hoping for. Looked composed early on with a couple of well-judged kicks in behind and a neat pass inside to a rampaging Jonny Gary. There was a harum-scarum moment when he chipped-and-chased from his own line – and Warriors didn’t really get away with it because Scarlets were able to launch their next wave of attack, and ultimately score try number three through Rob Evans, from 30 yards out. As the situation got more and more desperate, and Warriors got more and more ragged, his determination to ‘pull a rabbit out of his backside’ became more pronounced, and it paid off when his quick tap-penalrt set up Gray’s try. Replaced by Peter Horne on 68 minutes.
9. George Horne – 7
Looked like he had gone over for a try which would have snatched a lifeline with 34 minutes played, but referee John Lacey correctly ruled that Halanukonuka had lost the ball forward in contact. Tried his damnedest to spark something – went for an HIA at half-time which at least meant he got to miss out on Scarlets fourth try – and continued to pose a threat after his return, before being replaced by Henry Pyrgos on 68 minutes.Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 3)
1. Jamie Bhatti – 6
Penalised for holding onto the ball on the deck as Warriors began to build a bit of pressure midway through the first half. Part of a pack which was comprehensively out-muscled. Replaced by Alex Allan on 56 minutes.
2. Fraser Brown – 6
Couple of penetrative carries early on but bounced by Johnny McNicholl in lead-up to try number three. A moot point as to whether he was culpable for the overthrow to the tail of attacking line-out at a crucial moment near the end of the first half. Kept plugging away until being replace by George Turner on 68 minutes.
3. Zander Fagerson – 5
Penalised when first scrum went down. Retired injured after 25 minutes to be replaced by Halanukonuka.
4. Tim Swinson – 5
Battled hard but to no avail. The front five were under the pump for long spells and try as he might he couldn’t turn the tide.
5. Jonny Gray – 7
This result was certainly not down to a lack of effort from this tremendous warhorse. Never far from the action in attack or defence, although was one of the culprits when Gareth Davies waltzed through a series of weak tackle to score the visitors’ second try. Powered over for the Warriors’ first try. Credit for opportunism a few minutes later when he sneaked round the side of a ruck and tried to ground the ball on the try-line as Davies prepared to deliver from the base, and he was unlucky that referee Lacey didn’t give him the benefit of the doubt – at that stage it was worth trying anything.
6. Matt Fagerson – 6
Coach Dave Rennie spoke during the week about his effectiveness with ball in hand, but his most notable contribution was some fine jackaling on his own line in the sixth minute which earned a penalty and halted a furious early Scarlets onslaught – unfortunately it was only a temporary reprieve. It is easy to forget that he is still a teenager. This will be a disappointment but he can draw comfort in the knowledge that many more big games are still to come his way.
7. Callum Gibbins – 6
Had one early charge. Started his Warriors era like a runaway train, but a combination of injury and fatigue after playing back-to-back seasons in New Zealand and Scotland seems to have seriously hindered his momentum. Another one in need of a well-earned rest.
8. Ryan Wilson – 5
Gave away a penalty straight from kick-off by clumsily taking out the Scarlets catcher in a challenge for the ball, which set the tone for the match. We got all the effort we have come to expect from the skipper but he struggled to impose himself and was replaced by Rob Harley on 56 minutes.Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 3)
– Replacements –
16. George Turner – 6
Replaced Brown on 68 minutes and the Warriors had their only period in the ascendancy during the final quarter, but the horse had already bolted.
17. Alex Allan– 6
18. Sia Halanukonuka – 6
Fumbled the ball forward in contact when trying to release George Horne for a straight run-in during the first half. Didn’t add any more oomph to the struggling home pack after replacing the injured Zander Fagerson midway through the first half.
19. Rob Harley – 6
Replaced Ryan Wilson on 56 minutes and determinedly took the game to Scarlets. The lack of x-factor coming off the Warriors bench was notable.
20. Chris Fusaro – 5
A very late replacement for Matt Fagerson.
21. Henry Pyrgos – 6
Replaced George Horne on 68 minutes.
22. Peter Horne – 5
Missed conversion off Grigg try from in front of the posts which meant the Warriors needed more than two converted tries to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
23. Lee Jones – 6
Replaced Seymour and looked keen.
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