Lyon v Glasgow: How do Dave Rennie's side beat French opponents

Glasgow Warriors
Champions Cup: Lyon v Glasgow Warriors
Venue: Matmut Stadium, Lyon Date: Saturday, 8 December Kick-off: 13:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; text commentary on BBC Sport website

After a loss and a win in their Champions Cup campaign so far, Glasgow Warriors face a crucial match away to Lyon, in which a win is vital to maintain hopes of a quarter-final spot.

Their French opponents have lost their opening two matches, but sit fourth in the French Top 14 and will provide a stern test, especially at home.

BBC Scotland rugby analyst and former Glasgow player Colin Gregor looks at how Dave Rennie's side can earn a priceless win in France.

Intensity in defence

When Cardiff Blues defeated Lyon 30-21 in France in round one, Lyon made fewer metres despite carrying the ball 140 times to Cardiff's 88, and having the lion's share of possession and territory. The Welsh side also made 71 extra tackles. All of this suggests Glasgow's defence will set the tone for victory.

Glasgow need to show real intensity in defence, and in particular they need to make sure they have good line-speed to put Lyon under pressure. They need to shut them down behind the gain-line and deprive them of momentum and pressure in attack.

With Lionel Beauxis playing at fly-half for Lyon, I would expect him to sit deeper and kick from hand often. If the defence can fly up and reduce his time on the ball, they can disrupt his kicking game which will give the likes of Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour and DTH van der Merwe the chance to counter-attack, which they will relish.

Whenever you play a French team away from home, your forward pack needs to get at least parity. In the front row, D'Arcy Rae, Fraser Brown and particularly Oli Kebble, are going to be so important in making sure Glasgow get front-foot ball and secure their set piece.

It is another big game for fly-half Adam Hastings in only his third European appearance. He'll be under immense pressure but if the forwards can get some front foot ball it will buy him a half yard of space, which will allow him to use his quality to make a break himself or unleash the outside backs.

Balance between flair & pragmatism

Glasgow attacking stats

Glasgow's strength comes from their ability to attack at pace, and from deep. Rennie's side rank third in the Pro14 for tries and points scored, behind only Leinster and Munster. However, their ambition can come at a cost. They have conceded 31 turnovers in just two Champions Cup pool matches so far. The key will be striking a balance between flair and pragmatism, particularly as opponents Lyon rank fifth in the tournament for turnovers won.

Glasgow are at their best when they are on the verge of losing control, when it is all-action attack. They have to impose that on Lyon, who will not enjoy being moved around the pitch and will not be as conditioned.

However, they need to temper it slightly and ensure they keep hold of the ball. If an offload is definitely on then give it, but they must not throw 50/50 or even 60/40 passes and gift Lyon set-piece ball.

An important part of raising the tempo is the kicking game. If you kick the ball out, you slow down the tempo of the game, and you allow Lyon to determine the pace. They can amble back to the lineout, set it up and get their maul going.

But if you kick straight to their backs - Noa Nakaitaci, Toby Arnold and Alexis Palisson- they're going to rip you apart. So Glasgow need to be incredibly accurate and smart with their kicking game.


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