Tom Vickers’ Glasgow v Saints view and player ratings: Saints pay the price for their ambition
The Glasgow players entered the Scotstoun press room with their heads held high on Saturday afternoon.
Captain Al Kellock, scrum-half and shining light Nikola Matawalu and match-winner Peter Horne emerged for media duties with smiles etched on their faces.
But you couldn’t help feeling their mood would have been so different had Saints just needed to win the game.
Much has been made of Northampton being the first team to fall to defeat against Glasgow in this year’s competition.
But had the victory been all they wanted from their trip north of the border, Saints would have got it.
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The fact they didn’t win owed much to the fact they were so desperate to claim the four tries needed for a bonus-point.
That, as it turned out, wouldn’t have been enough to secure a Heineken Cup quarter-final spot as best runners–up – Montpellier and Leinster made sure of that – but it could have been.
Saints turned down numerous kicks at goal during the first half, and you would have backed Stephen Myler to have made a lot of them.
But it was a necessary approach as tries were the only currently they were dealing in.
That approach was the right one.
I wrote on Friday about the need for bravery and the need to show desire to turn down shots at goal in favour of backing the bid to score tries.
Saints did that.
They showed ambition to stay in Europe’s premier competition instead of jumping on the bus to the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
It was the right move.
They shot for the stars and fell on their backsides. But at least they tried. Ultimately, they just weren’t good enough on the day.
The main source of frustration was the failure to convert territory into tries during a first half when Saints penned the Warriors in.
For that they can be criticised.
The Scots summoned up the Braveheart spirit to hold out time after time and they eventually got their rewards as Saints threw the game away during the second half.
Alex Waller’s ill discipline, throwing a punch when his team had possession, proved to be the tipping point as Horne raced home to secure his side’s one and only Heineken Cup win of the season.
Saints were left deflated, hands on heads.
Yes, they could have been the ones coming into the press room talking about a victory.
But they had decided it was four or the floor.
Unfortunately, their Heineken Cup campaign ended with them laid out on the latter.
How they fared...
Made up for an error which gifted Glasgow a try as he raced up the other end of the pitch to register a score of his own. Not his greatest game in Saints colours... 6
Looked sharp until he was forced off with injury, and Saints will be hoping it’s nothing too serious as the utility back is an important member of the squad... 7
Got himself on the scoresheet and constantly tried to find gaps in the Glasgow rearguard. The Samoan won’t be popular with the Scots as he scored three tries in two games against them... 7
Probably Saints’ best player on the day as he threw himself into everything and found a way past the home defence during a first half when his team struggled to get through... 8
Not the most effective performance from the young wing, who struggled to find his way into the action... 6
Another steady kicking display, but this was a day when Saints needed extra invention and the first choice fly-half couldn’t quite provide it... 6
Didn’t box kick as much as in the game against Castres eight days earlier and that improved his performance as he dictated play with ball in hand... 6
Not the way the big man wanted to celebrate his 200th Saints appearance, but he gave a good account of himself before being replaced during the second half... 7
Steady showing from the skipper and he showed real belief in his team-mates by continually telling Myler to kick to the corner... 7
Carried the ball well and wasn’t bad at the set piece either, the prop put in a respectable showing before being replaced by Tom Mercey... 6
Made many more of his trademark huge hits, including one that put Glasgow fly-half Ruaridh Jackson out of the game... 7
Was unfortunate to be forced off through injury after making a good start to the game in which Saints were on top... 6
The back row was the first of a number of injury victims for Saints, and his departure from the pitch was a real blow for the away side... 7
Rivalled Waldouck for the tag of Saints’ best player. Showed a real appetite to get his team on the front foot and was effective at the set piece... 8
Made some clever breaks to gain his team some yards and again proved what a key member of the team he is in the heat of the European battle... 7
Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)
MARK SORENSON (for Clark, 37)
An assured figure in the second row as he helped to compensate for the loss of Clark during the first half... 6
RHYS OAKLEY (for Lawes, 51)
Showed real appetite to get over the gainline and was used as a battering ram to make some holes in the Glasgow rearguard... 6
RYAN LAMB (for Myler, 56)
Provided the spark Saints were so desperate for with two superb passes to create tries. His awareness to tee up Foden’s score was something special... 7
TOM MAY (for Wilson, 56)
Came on for the injured Wilson and played his part as Saints went in search of tries. Wasn’t as noticeable as some of the other backs... 6
TOM MERCEY (for Doran-Jones, 56)
Had a good chance to state his case for a starting spot in the coming weeks, but came on at a time when Glasgow had their tails up... 6
ALEX WALLER (for Tonga’uiha, 56)
Public enemy No.1 after this one after he had a red mist moment, landing a punch that gave away a crucial penalty and gave Glasgow possession to go up the other end and score... 5
MARTIN ROBERTS (for Dickson, 59)
Helped inject a little bit of tempo, along with fly-half Lamb, and Saints were the better for it as they looked for valuable scores... 6