European Rugby Champions Cup: Glasgow Warriors 3-13 Saracens

Saracens' Maro Itoje (left) celebrates as Glasgow Warriors have their try ruled out
Saracens' Maro Itoje (left) celebrates as Glasgow Warriors have DTH van der Merwe try ruled out
Heineken Champions Cup, Pool 3
Glasgow Warriors: 3 (3)
Pen: Hastings
Saracens: 13 (13)
Try: Rhodes Cons: Farrell Pens: Farrell 2

Saracens claimed a victory in the Heineken Champions Cup pool 3 as Glasgow Warriors were left fuming with French referee Mathieu Reynal.

A number of decisions went against the home side, including DTH van der Merwe and Lee Jones having tries ruled out.

Michael Rhodes escaped a card for holding Van der Merwe by the hair, after his try gave Saracens the lead.

Owen Farrell added the conversion then kicked two of three penalties, with an Adam Hastings counter from Warriors.

Contentious calls

Glasgow were given some harsh lessons in this competition last season. Their swashbuckling attacking style unravelled in the face of brutal physicality employed by the likes of Leinster and Montpellier as Warriors registered just one win from six pool matches.

By their own high standards, having won the trophy in 2016 and 2017, last season was a disappointment for Saracens also, going down to eventual winners Leinster in the quarter-finals.

Bathed in sunshine and packed to the rafters, Scotstoun was the perfect setting for this clash of contrasting styles. Those styles were perfectly illustrated within the opening 60 seconds. Huw Jones made a searing break to bring an already raucous home crowd to their feet, but they took a collective intake of breath moments later when Ryan Wilson was almost split in two by a monstrous tackle.

Saracens struck first with their first meaningful attack. Sean Maitland, the former Warriors wing, made a break and fed Alex Lozowski. He was knocked into touch by Hastings before offloading, but it went unnoticed and when the ball was whipped one way and then the other, flanker Rhodes was left with an easy run in to score.

The Premiership side were not doing anything special, just the basics very well, and when Farrell added a penalty to his earlier conversion they had established a 10-point lead.

Hastings and Farrell traded penalties and although the visitors looked comfortable on the scoreboard, Glasgow were ruffling the feathers of their celebrated opponents.

Ref booed for contentious calls

Referee Raynal drew the ire of the home fans with a string of contentious calls, and his decision to rule out a Van der Merwe try for an earlier infringement at a ruck ensured the French official went down the tunnel at half-time with boos ringing in his ears.

The next score was key and Saracens ramped things up in an effort to get the try that would end the contest. They threw everything at the Warriors, passing up numerous kickable penalties to go for the line through Billy Vunipola and Maro Itoje, but they were repelled by the Scots' ferocious defensive effort for fully 17 minutes before the home side were eventually able to release the pressure valve.

Farrell's passing was unusually erratic but Glasgow's handling undermined their attacking play. Substitute George Horne and Ruaridh Jackson combined to run from deep and carve open the Saracens defence, and then George Turner broke free, but on both occasions the offload was forced and the ball, and chance, was lost.

Two Turner mis-throws at line-outs blew promising attacking positions as the second half petered out into a scoreless affair.

Perhaps the greatest indication of Saracens' class is in a game where they were often looked disrupted and made numerous handling errors, they never truly looked in trouble.

For all Glasgow's enterprise, they managed a paltry three points. Life's tough at this level.

Teams

Glasgow Warriors: Jackson; L Jones, H Jones, Dunbar, Van der Merwe; Hastings, Price; Kebble, Brown, Rae, Harley, Gray, Wilson (co-capt), Gibbins (co-capt), M Fagerson.

Replacements: Turner, Allan, Du Plessis, Peterson, Fusaro, G Horne, P Horne, Hughes.

Saracens: Goode; Strettle, Lozowski, Barritt (capt), Maitland; Farrell, Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, George, Koch, Skelton, Kruis, Itoje, Rhodes, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Tolofua, Barrington, Lamositele, Isiekwe, Wray, Spencer, Tompkins, Williams.

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