Warriors must strike a balance between aggression and control, says O’Halloran

Attack coach says team must build momentum against Zebre this Friday, ahead of Saracens clash the following Sunday

Jason O'Halloran
Glasgow Warriors assistant coach Jason O'Halloran was pleased with how the team responded to their Southern Kings set-back, by picking up a bonus point win over the Dragons on Saturday evening ***Image: ©Fotosport/David Gibson***

AFTER falling off the horse in pretty spectacular style against the Southern Kings the week before, Glasgow Warriors got back in the saddle against the Dragons on Saturday evening, and although it wasn’t a vintage performance they did manage to pick up a bonus point win – creating a platform to build from this coming Friday against Zebre, ahead of a date with destiny when mighty Saracens come calling at Scotstoun in the Champions Cup the following Sunday.

Given the size of the challenge the Warriors face against the English champions, and the cut-throat nature of the Champions Cup, it is inevitable that the current lack of swagger is causing supporters serious anxiety. But attack coach Jason O’Halloran insists that things are moving in the right direction, and says he is confident that the players are now ready to work up the sort of head of steam required to cause a major European upset.

“You are always going to have a bit of ring rust after a nightmare like the Kings but I think we got the energy and the effort we looked for and just need to marry that up with a little bit better coordination this week,” he said.

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“What we learned from the weekend is that we need to hold a little more depth in attack so that we can dictate to the defence and use our feet. We allowed the Dragons to dictate to us at times by being too flat,” he continued. “That is a relatively easy fix, hopefully. Just apply a bit of pressure at training and make guys aware that if we give ourselves a couple more metres we have a chance to use our footwork and to distribute the ball into space under a little less pressure.

“Rugby is really a balance act. You want to have that physicality and aggression – being really energetic and aggressive and wanting to come at the opposition – but that can take away from your little minor skills, the catch-and-pass and things like that. I think that is where we were at last week, after a poor, really lethargic performance against the Kings, we struggled to find that balance between being really psyched and physical and having those little intricate skills.”

O’Halloran was understandably reluctant to talk too much about the Saracens game, recognising how dangerous it would be to take the more immediate challenge of getting a win against Zebre for granted.


“It’s in the back of our minds but we realise that we need to try to carry some momentum into European competition and there is a chance to do that now after a decent win last weekend,” he reasoned. “We’re at base camp so the aim is to improve this week and then really go into Saracens with a bit of confidence.

“We’re giving some guys an opportunity this week, but we’re also looking to build up a couple of combinations in key areas. So, there will be guys who will look at this game as an opportunity to play their way into Saracens, and there will be other guys rested so the we can bring them back fresh for that game. There are probably two or three guys in that forward pack who had a heavy week and need a rest leading into European competition.

“Zebre will bring a lot of heat in defence, a lot of line-speed, and they are very dangerous [with the ball in hand] – a really good offloading side,” he concluded. “They can really punish you – while the Dragons probably did not have that much ambition to play off the ball we gave them, Zebre certainly will.”

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About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The 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.