Glasgow back in shape for PRO14 push

Glasgow Warriors' Zander Fagerson takes the applause of the Scotstoun crowd.

Finn Russell and Zander Fagerson may get the kid-gloves treatment for the next month given their importance to Scotland’s forthcoming Six Nations campaign, but both are in great shape coming into the business end of the season.

Fagerson won man of the match honours in the second leg of the 1872 Cup at Scotstoun on Saturday for his dominant scrum performance but also his excellent carry and tackle stats, while Russell showed the kind of controlled performance that Dave Rennie has been looking for out of the mercurial Scotland stand-off as Glasgow won 17-0.

Neither are likely to be involved this week as the Warriors head out to Zebre for the first Guinness PRO14 match of the New Year, and wil be handled with care given Glasow’s interest in qualification for the European Champions’ Cup quarter-finals has long ended.

Not that they’re throwing in the towel for the last two games against Leinster and Exeter, however.

“I feel my form has been alright, I’ve not been 100% for a few of the games but I was pretty happy on Saturday,” said Fagerson. “My niggles are away so I was pretty chuffed. I got my hands on the ball so felt it went ok.

“We’ve got pride to play for in Europe and we’ll never lie down. I guess a few other guys will get opportunities, but we’re not here to lie down, we’re still here to get wins. There are a few exciting weeks coming up leading into a busy part of the season.”

The gradual improvement in the scrum has been a key for Glasgow, continued the 21-year-old.

“Jamie Bhatti has been playing great recently, so has Fraser Brown and we have been building,” he said. “The scrum wasn’t where it should have been at the start of the season, but we have built on it and we’re pretty chuffed with it now.

“At Murrayfield we didn’t get the rewards we wanted (at the scrum) and let the ref take it into his hands. This week we decided to do it ourselves.”

Russell started just one of the three previous games before Saturday and is likely to see some more time off in January.

The Scotland stand-off said it was important for Glasgow to prove they could win by grinding a game out rather than their usual wide open attacking style.

“Europe this season  has been slightly different,” he said. “We have come close in all the games and scored quite a few points but never managed to win them. But Saturday was grinding it out and keeping Edinburgh to nil was pretty impressive defensively from the boys.
“When we were 6 or 9 points ahead they had to start chasing the game. I think it was the defensive efforts won us the game.”

The long delay for a fire alarm going off in the North Stand at Scotstoun was another example, as Glasgow kept their focus better than Edinburgh once play restarted.

“The only point I made (in the dressing room) after that break was that mentally we were switched on. You might cool down a bit more because it is 10 minutes longer than a normal half time but we did a quick warm up and we were good to go.

“For us it was making sure we were ready mentally rather than physically because the body was fine to go and mentally we could not switch off.

“There had been chat depending how long the break that we may not go back on. Once we were going to re-started, the biggest thing is that mentally we had to be switched on.”