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Individual brilliance the major difference says Telfer

Guinness PRO12 Editor

17 May 2010


One of the legends of Scottish rugby believes individual brilliance prevented Glasgow Warriors from reaching the inaugural Magners League Final.

The Warriors were beaten 20-5 by the Ospreys on Friday night and Jim Telfer puts that defeat largely down to a couple of magical moments from two of the league’s most high-profile players.

Telfer, whose impressive CV includes coaching Scotland to Grand Slam glory in 1984 and securing series success with the Lions as assistant to Sir Ian McGeechan in 1997, highlights the contributions of Shane Williams and James Hook in a hard-fought semi-final in Swansea.

"Two pieces of individual brilliance by two outstanding players were the difference between victory and defeat at the Liberty Stadium," said Telfer, who had been hoping to watch Glasgow become the first Scottish side to lift the Magners League trophy in a fortnight’s time.

"Unfortunately, from the visitors’ point of view, the players both played for the home side.

"Early in the game, Shane Williams, out of nothing, picked up a flicked pass from James Hook at a turnover and skipped along the touchline to score in the corner. Most people in the crowd thought he was in touch, but not the man that mattered – the assistant referee – and to compound Glasgow’s misfortune, Dan Biggar kicked the goal.

"Then, in the second half, Hook showed his own brilliance, again down the blind side, when he rounded Alastair Kellock, kicked the ball over Dan Parks’ head and gathered it to score."

The Warriors arrived in Swansea in fine form following a superb bonus-point win at the Scarlets and three successive home victories but head coach Sean Lineen admitted his side would have to be at their very best to topple the Ospreys.

Telfer doesn’t believe that was the case last weekend, although it clearly wasn’t down to a lack of effort.

He is full of praise for what Lineen’s men have achieved this season but, although Glasgow made the Ospreys work extremely hard for their 15-point win, Telfer feels the actual result never really looked like going the Warriors’ way.

"In between the two Ospreys tries, Fergus Thomson scored one for Glasgow after a mix-up at an Ospreys lineout but to be honest it was the only time Glasgow threatened the home team’s line," Telfer told STV.

"Recently, Glasgow have been playing well and only the week before had scored a decisive victory at Llanelli. But, on Friday night, they didn’t deserve to win.

"As you would expect from two of the best sides in the league, play was very intense and physical especially in defence and at the breakdown. For once the famous "Killer Bs", Barclay, Brown and Beattie, came off second best.

"Ospreys have arguably the best back three in club rugby and Dan Parks was never able to keep Glasgow going forward as he usually does. Lee Byrne was immense under the high ball, Tommy Bowe and Shane Williams were prepared to run ball back and so the visitors, when Parks kicked, were never able to control position or possession for any length of time.

"The loss of Chris Cusiter before the game and Bernardo Stortoni at half-time were cruel blows for Glasgow. The latter in particular is almost indispensable both in attack and defence for Glasgow.

"Overall, Glasgow have done well this season. Third is their highest position ever in the Magners League and they are definitely Scotland’s top professional side. Physically, they are a match for anyone in Europe – their set piece is strong but their attack, as was shown on Friday night, lacked variety.

"Up to now everything has revolved around Dan Parks and, with his leaving, the equilibrium and balance of the attack will have to change. Players like Cusiter, Graeme Morrison, Max Evans and Stortoni will have step up to the mark and ensure that the two young stand-offs, Ruaridh Jackson and Duncan Weir, are not left to flounder."