Finlay has been following Glasgow Warriors for 10 years. He also writes for the Warriors Match Day programme!
Six weeks into the new RaboDirect PRO12 season and it’s so far so good for Gregor Townsend and his Glasgow Warriors as they currently sit third in the standings after four wins in a row.
The season began with a disappointing loss at Ravenhill followed by an even more deflating defeat at our new Scotstoun home at the hands of the Scarlets. Some fans were beginning to question Townsend’s credentials as a head coach and if he really was cut out for the job given that he had no previous head coaching experience and was parachuted into the role last spring.
These critics were answered in commanding fashion as the Warriors romped to a comprehensive victory in round three against the Ospreys and followed that up with two home wins over Connacht and Zebre.
In round six Glasgow travelled to the Arms Park to take on Cardiff Blues and registered another comfortable victory which puts us in the mix for a Play-Off spot at the end of the first cluster of fixtures.
Most pleasing for Warriors fans is the manner in which those two away victories in Wales were earned. We now have a formidable pack that is capable of matching the best in Europe as was proven at the Liberty Stadium and at the Arms Park last weekend.
It is unfair to single any one player out for praise but winger DTH Van der Merwe, who missed the opening defeat to Ulster, has now scored five tries in four appearances although we will miss him as he recovers from the injury he picked up last month that will keep him out of action until December.
The pack in general has been outstanding with the front row in particular holding their own against some of the best in Europe, and new additions Josh Strauss and Ofa Fainga’anuku have added even more strength to Townsend’s options looking ahead to the next group of fixtures in November.
Strauss, the 18 stone 6 foot five number 8, could turn out to be one of Glasgow’s most valuable signings of recent years given that he is in the prime of his career, captained the Golden Lions throughout the recent Super XV season, and has the added incentive of perhaps one day representing Scotland if he were to complete the three-year residency requirement.
Fijian scrum-half Niko Matawalu also made his debut last weekend against the Blues, and although he was only on the pitch for a few minutes, he displayed the sort of sniping pace and precision passing that Glasgow have been lacking in recent years. He will prove to be a valuable addition to the squad over the next few months given the injuries to scrum halves Chris Cusiter and Murray McConnell.
Looking ahead to the next lot of fixtures at the end of the month, Glasgow should not be fearful heading to Stadio Monigo to face the in-form Treviso who defeated Edinburgh last week.
The Warriors ran out narrow winners there in April despite not playing very well, and should have a number of players back from injury ahead of a busy time of year for both clubs and countries.
Quick fire questions:
Biggest surprise: The away win at Ospreys was most unexpected
Most valuable player so far: Chris Fusaro/DTH Van der Merwe
Overall season prediction: 3rd (Play-Off spot)
Other predictions: Top try scorer DTH Van der Merwe
Who is going to win the RaboDirect PRO12: Ulster