Stuart Hogg believes his former side Glasgow Warriors “will be kicking themselves” after losing to Northampton Saints at Scotstoun in their opening game of the 2023/24 Investec Champions Cup.
Glasgow got off to a superb start when Sebastian Cancelliere intercepted an Alex Mitchell pass and flew down the wing for a fourth-minute try but the hosts, usually so devastating going forward, did not score another point until deep into the second half.
By then, there was too big a deficit to make up as the United Rugby Championship side fell to just a second loss in almost as many years at fortress Scotstoun.
“I think they’ll be disappointed, very disappointed,” Hogg said on TNT Sports. “I think only between 63 and 66 minutes did we actually see what Glasgow are about.
“And they’ll be hurt by that because they’re a team that pride themselves on having a nice, attractive game of rugby.
“Northampton fronted up defensively, they stood firm, they battered them every time they came running, and Glasgow just never seemed to get into the game at all.
“They tried lots of different things, I didn’t think they kicked particularly well, and then on the flip side, I thought Northampton were absolutely outstanding.
“That’ll be a tough one for Glasgow to take because we didn’t see a true reflection of that Glasgow side tonight and they’ll be kicking themselves.”
After the early setback, Saints, who beat Saracens at the StoneX Stadium in the Gallagher Premiership last week, recovered brilliantly to assert their dominance.
Courtney Lawes scored his first club try for five years to put the visitors in front before a Tommy Freeman brace and a Fin Smith penalty made it a 17-point game at the break.
The ever-reliable Smith, who faces a decision about whether to represent England or Scotland at international level, added two more penalties in the second half to put the result beyond doubt despite a late Warriors rally.
There were standout performances all over the pitch on a horrible Glasgow night. Lawes was a giant in the pack, while Smith and Freeman posed a constant threat in a backline that handled the conditions with ease.
But Glasgow head coach Franco Smith, who admitted there was “hard work ahead” for his side, singled out Mitchell for how he dictated the game from scrum-half.
“I’m disappointed with the first half,” Smith told TNT Sports. “We looked like we were surprised by what Northampton brought.
“We know we’ve got to start better, and we’ve been speaking about it. There’s hard work ahead for us.
“I must compliment them. They stopped our set piece really well, Mitchell was outstanding – his kicking performance was exceptional.
“We have all our processes in place – we will look at what needs to improve. It’s small things, and hopefully we can get a win on the road next week.”
The strength in depth of the new-look Champions Cup has been well documented, meaning a loss at home is likely to be particularly difficult to bounce back from.
But that is the task facing Glasgow, who travel to take on Top 14 outfit Bayonne next week.
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