Glasgow Warriors 29
DAVID BARNES @ Scotstoun
IT won’t be remembered as one of the great European nights for Glasgow Warriors, but they were good enough to see off a much-changed and under-strength Toulon outfit to book their place in the last 16 of the Champions Cup.
Franco Smith‘s side will finish fourth in Pool 3 if Munster manage to beat Northampton Saints at Thomond Park tomorrow [Saturday] evening, and third if the Irishmen come up short in that game. Either way, they face an away day in their first knock-out match on the weekend 5th-7th April, with the draw seeded based on pool rankings at the end of this weekend.
On a dreich night at Scotstoun, this game never really got going. It was pretty scrappy throughout. But five tries scored with only one against is testament to Warriors’ ability to stick to task and take their chances when they presented themselves.
The highlight of the opening exchanges was a great rip by Max Williamson, two minutes into his first start for Glasgow Warriors, which killed off a promising Toulon attack.
Mathieu Smaili had an opportunity to nudge Toulon into a ninth minute lead with a penalty awarded against Matt Fagerron for not rolling away after the tackle, but his effort from halfway and directly in front of the posts fell harmlessly short and to the left of the posts.
Then, for the second time in as many weeks, Warriors had a try chalked off in contentious circumstances, after Josh McKay ran from deep, burst through some heavy traffic in the middle of the park, stepped outside last man Gaël Drean and used his pace to touch down in the corner. The score was initially given by referee Matt Carley, but then TMO Ian Tempest suggested a review, and it was decided that both Scott Cummings and Lucio Sordoni had obstructed potential tacklers near the start of his full-back’s long run to the line.
Scotstoun fell quiet again for a while after that, but at least on this occasion the decision did not have any material effect on the outcome of the match.
Finally, on 21 minutes, Warriors got reward for their steadily increasing dominance when some slick hands and decoy running opened up a gap for Huw Jones to accelerate through, before releasing Kyle Rowe for the score with a neat one-handed pass out of contact.
Jones went from creator to finisher just after the half hour mark when he took advantage of his reunion with Sione Tuipulotu in Glasgow’s midfield by running a trademark wicked line off his inside-centre to cut through score just to the left of the posts, which set up an easy conversion for George Horne.
Despite the deteriorating conditions and the seemingly hopelessness of their cause, Toulon reappeared as energised force at the start of the second half, and took advantage of some pretty lethargic Warriors defending to pick up their first and only points of the evening on 48 minutes when Gaël Drean dotted down on the right.
Warriors worked hard to up their intensity levels over the next 10 minutes, and although it took them a while to rediscover their attacking groove, the breakthrough finally came in when replacement hooker Johnny Matthews must have used every ounce of willpower he could muster to resist dipping his head a charging for the line from five yards out for what would have been his 11th Warriors try of the season in all competitions, and instead send a lovely delayed pass leftward to send McKay over instead.
And the bonus point was wrapped up on 63 minutes when slick hands from an overthrown Toulon line-out sent Jones over for his second try of the night on the right.
That just about killed off any lingering hope of a Toulon fightback, but, to their credit, the French side did not throw in the towel, and were unlucky not to add to their tally when the TMO found a reason to chalk of a try for former Edinburgh man Cornell du Preez, for becoming detached from the line-out maul which had just marched over the Warriors line.
Poor Euan Ferrie thought he had at last grabbed his first Warriors try, a week after his last-play score against Exeter Chiefs was chalked off amid much debate, but it wasn’t to be. This time the TMO was not required by referee Carley, who identified that the pass from Rowe which had put the replacement flanker clear was marginally forward.
Rowe went over for his second try of the contest in injury time, rounding off a comprehensive but not exactly inspiring win for Franco Smith‘s men.
Glasgow Warriors: J McKay; K Steyn, H Jones (, S McDowall. 64), S Tuipulotu, K Rowe (B Afshar 72); T Jordan, G Horne; J Bhatti (O Kebble 52), G Turner (J Matthews 52), L Sordoni (Z Fagerson 52), M Williamson, S Cummings (A Samuel, 72), A Miller ( E Ferrie, 39), M Fagerson (H Venter 64), J Dempsey.
Toulon: A Luc; G Drean, S Tuicuvu, M Smaili (E Herve 41), G Villiere (M Rabut 33); J Sinzelle, V Lobzhanidze (J Danglot 64); B Devaux (F Gonzalez 72), T Baubigny (J Singleton 64), E Setiano (K Brookes 48), S Rebbadj, A Warion (M Halagahu 58), J Coulon, M le Corvec (C du Preez 62), F Isa.
Referee: Matt Carley (England)
Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Rowe 2, Jones 2, McKay; Con: Horne 2.
Toulon: Tries: Drean.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow Warriors): 5-0; 10-0; 12-0 (12-5) 17-5; 22-5; 24-5; 29-5.