Glasgow v Exeter: thrilling draw all but ends Warriors’ Euro hopes

Three match points leave Dave Rennie's team reliant on other results - and on a big win over Sale next weekend

Huw Jones
Huw Jones beats the tackle of Exeter flanker Dave Ewers to score a first-half try. Image: FOTOSPORT/DAVID GIBSON.

Glasgow Warriors 31

Exeter Chiefs 31

STUART BATHGATE

@ Scotstoun

AN explosive start raised Glasgow’s hopes of pulling off a sensational victory, but in the end they had to settle for a result that leaves their chances of a Champions Cup quarter-final place hanging by a thread.

Exeter only needed a point from this game to win Pool Two, and they got it with their fourth try midway through the second half, then collected two more for the draw. Even before kick-off the Warriors looked like needing a win bonus here and next week against Sale to have a realistic chance of reaching the last eight as one of the best three runners-up from the five pool. The three points they got here have not entirely ended that chance, but even if they beat the Sharks, they will be reliant on other results going their way.

While they can take pride in scoring four tries and in playing with such positivity, Glasgow will also rue the moments that got away, notably a fumble forward by Huw Jones with the line at his mercy. They also rightly had a late ‘try’ by Sam Johnson disallowed for a forward pass, leaving Dave Rennie to express his frustration at the outcome.

“We couldn’t get the ball to sit up tonight, could we?,” the Warriors coach  said. “We scored off one, but we had four other opportunities where if she sits up, we score.

“There’s a bit of frustration there, with the disallowed try so late in the game, and we let in a couple of soft ones. But Exeter are good, aren’t they? They get you around the goal line and ask a lot of questions of you.

“We’re disappointed because we did enough to get five points tonight. We’ll assess and see what happens in the other games and find out what we need to do next week. The chances are slim, but Gloucester are one of the other sides in there and they’ve got to play Toulouse away next week, and Northampton have to go to Lyon.

“We might need someone to do us a favour to go through, but we’ll assess and then we’ll throw everything at Sale. I’ll imagine they’ll put a pretty good team on the field based on what we saw last night [when Sale lost to La Rochelle].”

That brightest of beginnings saw Tommy Seymour give Glasgow the lead within the opening minute, collecting his own chip ahead to score in the right corner. Adam Hastings added the conversion. It was the simplest of scores against a defence renowned for being extremely tough to break down, and it augured well for the Warriors’ hopes of getting a try bonus out of the match.

Chiefs captain Joe Simmonds opened his team’s account with a fifth-minute penalty, but Glasgow were soon back on the attack, and got their second converted try three minutes later. Heavy pressure from the big men had taken a move deep inside the Chiefs 22, then when the ball went out to the backs, Jones used Seymour as an outside decoy and glided through the resultant gap. 

So far so good for the home side, but then impatience got the better of them as they tried to force an opening in search of try No 3. Johnson’s pass evaded Jones, but was picked up on the bounce by Nic White, who raced in from 60 metres out to score behind the posts. Simmonds’ conversion brought his team back to within four points, and from being firmly in control, Glasgow were under some needless pressure.

Midway through the half another loose ball saw Exeter hack and chase downfield, but this time the defence got back on time, even though Jones needed some help from George Horne to mop things up on the goal line before the visitors gave away a penalty. The Chiefs soon conceded another penalty, down the other end this time, and Hastings had no trouble in scoring from it, but Glasgow soon suffered another self-inflicted wound, as Callum Gibbins was sinbinned for using an elbow on Jacques Vermeulen at a breakdown. 

Exeter barely needed two minutes to make their numerical advantage count. A scrum, a penalty to touch, a lineout drive, and then several phases close to the posts all led to the finish by No 8 Matt Kvesic, whose try was converted by Simmonds. That made it 17-17, annulling the lightning start that had briefly given Glasgow hope of a runaway victory. 

Worse followed for the Warriors with Gibbins still off the field, as Vermeulen grabbed his team’s third try from close range. Simmonds’ conversion appeared to be drifting wide, but he had judged the wind well and it changed course at the last minute to bisect the posts.

To their credit, Glasgow responded to the setback in the best possible way, by scoring their own third on the stroke of half-time. Hastings did the initial damage, feinting to pass then cutting inside before feeding Horne, whose turn of speed outstripped the remaining defence. The stand-off converted the scrum-half’s try to make it all square at the break. 

Rob Harley came on for Matt Fagerson at half-time, and the rain came back too. In the first real chance of the second 40, Jones hacked on from halfway and was well ahead of the chasing pack – only to fumble forward as he tried to collect the ball. It was a bitter blow for the home side to bear, especially as the Chiefs were soon camped on their line. 

The Glasgow defence held out at that point, but only at the expense of a penalty and a yellow card for Fraser Brown. Exeter ran the award, were held up but got a penalty again, ran again, and this time Kvesic had the power to force his way over.

That fourth try gave the Chiefs the bonus point they needed to be sure of winning the group whatever the result of this game, and left Glasgow in need of two scores to retake the lead. They got one in the right corner when a maul drove Niko Matawalu over, and Hastings’ conversion made it 31-31, and for a moment the conclusion to the game promised to be as gripping as its opening minutes.

Johnson thought he had scored in the same corner, but it was rightly chalked off for a forward pass by Hastings in the build-up. A drop-goal attempt from Hastings fell short, and then, in a dramatic last act, a Stuart Hogg penalty from his own ten-metre line bounced back off the crossbar. Glasgow’s attempt to run it back was soon snuffed out, leaving the match tied. 

Glasgow Warriors: G Bryce; T Seymour, H Jones, S Johnson, K Steyn; A Hastings, G Horne; O Kebble, F Brown, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, J Gray, R Wilson, C Gibbins (captain), M Fagerson. Substitutes: G Turner, A Seiuli, A Nicol, R Harley, C Fusaro, A Price, P Horne, N Matawalu.

Exeter Chiefs: S Hogg; J Nowell, I Whitten, O Devoto, O Woodburn; J Simmonds (captain), N White; A Hepburn, L Cowan-Dickie, E Pieretto, J Kirsten, S Lonsdale, D Ewers, J Vermeulen, M Kvesic. Substitutes: E Taione, B Moon, M Street, W Witty, T Price, J Maunder, G Steenson, S Hill.

Referee: R Poite (France).

Scorers: Glasgow: Tries: Seymour, Jones, Horne, Matawalu. Cons: Hastings 4. Pen: Hastings. 

Exeter: Tries: White, Kvesic 2, Vermeulen. Cons: Simmonds 4. Pen: Simmonds.

Scoring sequence (Glasgow first): 5-0, 7-0, 7-3, 12-3, 14-3, 14-8, 14-10, 17-10, 17-15, 17-17, 17-22, 17-24, 22-24, 24-24 half-time, 24-29, 24-31, 29-31, 31-31.

Yellow cards: Glasgow: Gibbins 25, Brown 52.

Attendance: 7,351.

 

 

Glasgow Warriors: G Bryce; T Seymour, H Jones, S Johnson, K Steyn; A Hastings, G Horne; O Kebble, F Brown, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, J Gray, R Wilson, C Gibbins (captain), M Fagerson. Substitutes: G Turner, A Seiuli, A Nicol, R Harley, C Fusaro, A Price, P Horne, N Matawalu.

Exeter Chiefs: S Hogg; J Nowell, I Whitten, O Devoto, O Woodburn; J Simmonds (captain), N White; A Hepburn, L Cowan-Dickie, E Pieretto, J Kirsten, S Lonsdale, D Ewers, J Vermeulen, M Kvesic. Substitutes: E Taione, B Moon, M Street, W Witty, T Price, J Maunder, G Steenson, S Hill.

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Stuart Bathgate
About Stuart Bathgate 827 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.