Bulls v Glasgow: Warriors bullied out of it by Bulls

Danny Wilson's side now face a must-win game against Edinburgh to qualify for the play-offs of the United Rugby Championship

Ollie Smith's late try wasn't quite enough to salvage a losing bonus-point. Image: ©Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Ollie Smith's late try wasn't quite enough to salvage a losing bonus-point. Image: ©Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Bulls 29

Glasgow Warriors 17

FAMILIAR disappointment for Glasgow Warriors in Pretoria as poor discipline and a mid second half slump saw this game float away from them. A late Ollie Smith try opened up the prospect of salvaging a losing bonus-point, and the full-back went over again in the final minute which would have pulled the deficit back to less than seven points, but it was chalked off for a forward pass earlier in the move.

This result means that Warriors return home from their south African mini-tour with a record of zero wins from two games, with an aggregate score of 61 points against and 24 for.

“We’ve certainly been taught a few lessons here,” said Warriors head coach Danny Wilson, reflecting on this match and last weekend’s defeat to the Stormers. “Again, physically we really struggled, we lacked breakdown presence, we couldn’t get go-forward and were then isolated, and when we did try to have a crack at them we couldn’t string enough together to do it. 

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“On top of that, our discipline let us down today, which has usually been relatively good,” he added. “We gave away a couple of cheap penalties which piggy-backed them down the field. 

“They are a good team, there is no doubt about that. They are a powerful team and we lost physically tonight, quite comfortably.”

Glasgow’s chances of a top four finish in the URC, and therefore home draw in the play-offs, are not dead yet, but they could well be by tomorrow [Saturday] night depending on how the Stormers, the Sharks and Ulster fair in their respective round 17 matches.

The more pressing concern  now is over their shoulder, with ninth placed Scarlets able to move to just two points behind them if they get a bonus point win at the Ospreys tomorrow night, which would make Warriors’ final match of the regular league campaign against Edinburgh on 21st May a make-or-break occasion in terms of being involved at all in the knock-out phase of the season.

“We unfortunately lost a lot of players to injury tonight,” continued Wilson. “Rory Darge has injured his knee, I don’t know how bad it is at the moment but it doesn’t look good. Tom Gordon has a head knock so we’ll have to see how he comes through the concussion protocols, and Fraser Brown did something to his shoulder so I would be very doubtful about him being available next week

It was the same last week so there are a number of players who are going to get a different experience, and get on the field for us.”

“We’ll learn a lot from this. We’re going to patch ourselves up, and go again next week when we’ve got a big game in Europe against Lyon, then the end of the season is all away from home.”

It started well for Glasgow, with Jamie Bhatti earning a penalty at the first scrum, and clean line-out ball setting up a sustained bombardment of the home try-line, eventually yielding another penalty which Warriors chose to kick to the corner rather than take the three easy points. This approach paid off with the line-out maul being illegally collapsed by Erlich Louw, leading to a yellow-card and penalty try.

Despite being a man down, Bulls bounced right back through scrum-half Zak Burger after some forceful phases by his big forwards, with Morne Steyn adding the extras. One step forward, one step back, which is typical of Glasgow this season.

With their tails-up, Bulls looked the more likely to score next throughout the sin-bin period, but Glasgow weathered the storm and then nudged themselves back into the lead on 20 minutes when Duncan Weir bisected the posts following a no-arms-tackle by Walt Steenkamp on Smith in front of the posts.

Glasgow threatened again when Darge spun off the back of a line-out maul and released Stafford McDowall, but Bulls hooker Johan Grobbelaar did well to snaffle possession after the big centre was eventually brought down five yards from then home try-line.

Steyn squared it just before the half hour mark when Warriors were penalised for collapsing a scrum, and with Warriors’ discipline unravelling, the veteran stand-off really should have nudged the hosts ahead just before the break following an offside, but he uncharacteristically miscued an easy one from almost directly in front of the posts.

That was a big let-off, but Warriors seemed determined to make life hard for themselves, conceding a couple more penalties, which eventually led to referee Nika Amashukeli understandably losing patience and sending Zander Fagerson for 10 minutes in the sin-bin. Bulls kicked to the corner this time and continued to build pressure until winger Madosh Tambwe came off his wing to streak home unchallenged.


It looked like Tambwe had claimed his second after 12 minutes of the second half when he showed lightning pace to outstrip Smith when chasing down Lionel Mapoe‘s inch-perfect diagonal toe-poke towards the left touchline, but a referral to the TMO identified that the Bulls winger had been a few inches in front of the kicker.

Bulls kept cranking up the pressure, with their line-out maul particularly profitable, and there was no need to refer it upstairs for a video review when Walt Steenkamp burst past Brown and propelled himself over. And the home bonus point was in the bag with 62 minutes played when Cyle Brink announced his arrival as a replacement for Louw by rumbling over after another punishing period of pressure.

Smith did manage to pull one back for the visitors when he hit a great line off Sione Tuipulotu with eight minutes to go, opening up the prospect of a losing bonus-point which could be crucial in the fight for play-off qualification.

And it looked like Smith had snatched that score they needed with just 30 seconds left on the clock, but the second to last pass during the build-up, from Tuipulotu to Josh McKay, had floated forward, so it was correctly chalked off.


Teams –

Vodacom Bulls: C Moodie; J Verity-Arm, L Mapoe (H Vorster 64), C Hendricks, M Tambwe; M Steyn (C Smith 59), Z Burger (E Papier 71); G Steenekamp (S Matanzima 66), J Grobbelaar (J Wessels 66), M Smith (D Smith 66), W Steenkamp, R Nortje (J Swanepoel 63-75), M Coetzee, A Botha, E Louw (C Brink 59).

Glasgow Warriors: O Smith; J McKay, S Tuipulotu, S McDowall (S Johnson 55), C Forbes; D Weir (R Thompson 63), A Price (J Dobie 71); J Bhatti (O Kebble 54), G Turner (F Brown 50-63), Z Fagerson (S Berghan 63), R Harley, R Gray, R Wilson, R Darge (T Gordon 40, K McDonald 50), J Dempsey.

Referee: Nika Amashukeli


Scorers –

Vodacom Bulls: Tries: Burger, Tambwe, W Steenkamp, Brink; Con: Steyn 3; Pen:  Steyn.

Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Penalty Try, Smith; Con: Thompson; Pen: Weir

Scoring sequence (Bulls first): 0-7; 5-7; 7-7; 7-10; 10-10; 15-10; 17-10(h-t) 22-10; 24-10; 29-10; 29-15; 29-17.


Yellow cards –

Bulls: Louw (5mins)

Glasgow Warriors: Fagerson (40mins)


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About David Barnes 3956 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. biggest problem for Glasgow is what looks on paper like a decent side has far too many players who some rate on reputation rather than form. Sadly, 4 or 5 or their most experienced players have been poor to anonymous every time they play; Weir, Harley, Wilson, Gray has a lineout presence and nothing else. Miller was excess to Edinburgh requirements and its becoming clear why.

  2. Just saw the tail end of the Lyon v Montpellier game. Lyon put 40 points past Montpellier. If they put out their full side next week then Glasgow are in for a torrid time. Despite our pack being largely internationals – some are clearly past internationals – we just don’t stack up in terms of physicality and aggression against the top sides. The depth of the Glasgow forward squad is simply not strong enough particularly in the back 5 of the pack.

    Its interesting to compare the Edinburgh squad in the back row alone – they have Watson, Ritchie, Bradbury, Crosbie, Muncaster, Boyle, Haining, Kunavalu. Mata – thats enough for 3 top back rows. Glasgow in comparison have Wilson, Dempsey, Fagerson, Miller, Darge, Gordon and Harley (if back row?). Quite a difference and thats part of Glasgows problem – their depth in a number of areas is nothing like Edinburgh. Not sure how this disparity has arisen considering both SRU funded.

  3. I agree with the comments below. Sadly the only thing that will make the SRU do something is money. So let’s tell them in no uncertain terms that we are fed up with this and questioning whether we will renew our season tickets. We must have a change and we need one now. Anyone want to set up a should we renew our season tickets Facebook page? let’s create fan pressure for change. I’ve had enough of this turgid rubbish.

    • Glasgow have long punched above their weight. Times are not so easy these days.
      And much of it is about money. Operate on so much less than at least 3 of the Irish teams; as do the Welsh teams – league positions reflect that.
      So we get to the supporters dilemma. Don’t buy a season ticket to put pressure on; and thus reduce income and ability to compete financially

      The money has to come from somewhere. All prices, Glasgow and Scotland are IMHO at breaking point, TV deals signed but the URC one is of minimal value really, AIs will be on Prime again, 6N may go likewise

  4. How can a pack of 7 Scottish and 1 Aussie Internationals be humiliated and torn asunder by a Bulls pack containing 1, yes 1 International? Well it isn’t size, check the stats on the Bulls website. It isn’t experience, most of the Bulls are in their early 20’s. It must be application, technique, desire, and coaching. The backs did their usual ineffective running from side to side until late in the game when it got loose and they had to rely on their own instant decision making, talent and skill and they looked all the better for it.
    Distilled down the team needs to be better coached.
    There is already a palpable lack of excitement and atmosphere compared to previously years at Scotstoun. Many who sit in my part of the North stand are grumbling about the quality of the fayre on offer and questioning the value of their season tickets. Danny Wilson comes across as a nice guy and a decent coach, unfortunately for him we need someone better or we will regress and the crowds will think about what else they can spend their money on. Especially true as when the renewal emails arrive we will likely have lost 5 games on the trot.

    • Understand your sentiment however I like many wrote to Warriors expressing my disappoint at random scheduling of fixtures and how this impacts on my ability to attend regularly. The response and I am paraphrasing was thanks for your custom but we have a long waiting list for your tickets. Wondering that is the case now?

      • scheduling is mainly down to the league format, then driven by their TV deals. Glasgow (and a few others) are very unhappy with it and have made formal complaints. Its run from Dublin. I’ll leave it there

      • I believe the Irish are also responsible for Covid and the invasion of Ukraine according to some people.

    • Just watched Stormers vs Leinster under 12’s . Although they got beaten Leinster didn’t give up and were well in the contest until the end. Contrast Leinster, with most of the players making their first team debut on the mini tour, with our poor showings over two games in a team festooned with internationals. Leinster obviously have a fabulous academy, however the startling difference is coaching, whoever they put out. They have been and continue to be well coached, we saved the SRU a few bob by shuffling who they had spare to Scotstoun.

    • being a Scottish international does not make you a great player. Almost anyone getting a run of pro games up here will get capped. Boks still have 4 pro teams at top level, was 6 at one point, and really strong competitions below that. All pushed by huge playing numbers -Glasgow based at Stellenbosch for this trip I think, the Uni there a few years back was putting out 100 teams a weekend. Yes, 100. Different planet

  5. No doubt season ticket renewals aren’t far away what with a team and squad that is misfiring consistently and little guarantee that Friday Night will be rugby night I think more thought required about auto renewing.

  6. Glasgow lack pace and direction with Weir at 10. He was brought back for his experience but game after game he makes rookie mistakes. Encroaching at the lineout…he was within 10m of the ref and didn’t notice his arm was still out. Missed kicks another regular feature. He’s not a bad player but his inconsistency is not helping. His coach not sorting that out is just another of Danny’s failings. Time to reset

  7. “We have been taught a few lessons here ” says the coach, my problem is we do not seem to be learning from these lessons. All their tries originated from our errors , dropped balls , in from the side penalties, non-existent maul defense , line out mess up’s , ignoring the ref’s instructions “leave it 6 ” no, then penalty, all self inflicted and the same every week.
    Does a good coach matter well Borthwick tuned Leicester around pretty spectacularly so yes it does.
    Can I add one more thing that annoys me, we talk about player well fare, but last night Darge clearly injured him self, they played him on and he aggravated the injury even more , so instead of being OK for next weekend he looks to join our long term injured where is the sense in that.

  8. Townsend turned what was becoming a great team into a good team Rennie turned a good team into a mediocre team and Wilson has turned a mediocre team into a poor team. Bring back ???

    • Sorry that’s nonsense. Lineen brought Glasgow back to respectability but they were going no further with him. Saying otherwise is revisionist rubbish. There was no danger of his side making play offs let alone silverware. We are all frustrated with Townsend now but the only success they had was clearly down to him and coaches before or since haven’t been close to replicating either the style or the success at Glasgow.

  9. A good coach and staff can take a mediocre team and turn them into winners, however a terrible coach and back up staff can take a group of international players and turn them into a mediocre team. I know which one this coach is!

  10. Rod B says enough….. disenchanted by poor management…..
    Enough is enough…. Pls no more of the same.

  11. Only saw the 2nd half and in the 3rd quarter it looked like Glasgow were going to get blown away. they seemed to lose every break down and often got isolated and out muscled. To their credit they actually finished quite strongly with a good try and an almost better try disallowed for a forward pass. It looked like when they started to throw the ball around and play with some tempo that they were finding gaps in the Bulls defence but all too late to make a difference. Overall probably not as bad as it could be but bad news about a number of injuries.

  12. Hmm.. maul defence non-existent, scrum poor, backs posing no threat just constant recycling and getting nowhere. Silly mistakes across the board, weak defence. Good players playing poorly – doesn’t all this call for a new coaching team. A poor, poor, poor display – and from the look of it we have also lost Rory Darge for a while, that injury did not look good. Huw Jones looking great for Quins we dumped him. Dear oh dear.

    • Largely agree with the above, Glasgow SHOULD be better than what they are. Suffered when Darge went off, compounded by Gordon then going off. Smith played well, the guys tried hard but are really struggling. The game was gone when the McDowall break come to nothing

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