Glasgow v Dragons: five-try Johnny Matthews spearheads Warriors record points total

Franco Smith's side will now meet the Lions in last eight of Challenge Cup at Scotstoun next Saturday night

Johnny Matthews scored five tries for Glasgow Warriors versus the Dragons. Image: Craig Watson
Johnny Matthews scored five tries for Glasgow Warriors versus the Dragons. Image: Craig Watson

Glasgow Warriors 73

Dragons 33

DAVID BARNES @ Scotstoun Stadium

A CRAZY evening at Scotstoun saw records tumble, with Johnny Matthews becoming the first Warriors player to score five tries in a single game as the home team rampaged to their highest ever match-points total.

This win means Warriors will now host the Lions in the last eight of the Challenge Cup next Saturday night. They will have revenge on their mind after losing to the South Africans in the URC at the end of February.

Speaking afterwards, Warriors head coach Franco Smith fell some way short of being effusive in his praise of the team’s performance, and warned his players that they will need to be better for that quarter-final match.

“I’m disappointed with our exits – they weren’t up to par,” he stated. “There are a lot of things we can do much better, but for tonight we must take the joy out of the win.

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“There was a conversation in the changing room … I don’t want to say we are disappointed, but we are not completely happy with how it went. That’s the group – not just me. The fact that we’ve allowed them to score three tries with only 14 players on the field hurts. The fact they scored any points hurts for us because it’s our objective to be as good as we can be on both sides of the ball.

“Compliments to the Dragons, they kept on fighting even though they were down a player as well as being down on the scoreboard.

“We have a lot of things to rectify, but I always knew the guys coming back [from Sic Nations duty with Scotland], it was going to take at least a game to get them back into our mould. Hopefully we can kick on from here.”

It took Warriors all of two minutes to get off the mark, with skipper Kyle Steyn slaloming through Dragons’ pedestrian defence and then sending George Horne on an unchallenged canter to the line.

It was the ideal start but it didn’t quite go to plan from there, with Warriors making life hard for themselves with some careless inaccuracies including a missed penalty to touch from Domingo Miotti and a banana pass from Huw Jones which flew over Cole Forbes.

And when another Steyn break got Warriors back in the strike zone, they huffed and puffed but continued to make heavy weather of it, before Richie Gray juggled then managed to gather a line-out to set up a maul from which Matthews stretched his ball-holding hand over.

Horne slotted the conversion, but there was then a delay while referee Tual Trainini discussed the possibility that the Warriors hooker had dropped the ball in the process of scoring, before deciding that the score was good.

Dragons bit right back when an excellent floated pass from the base of a close-range ruck by Rhodri Williams sent Jordan Williams over on the left, and Will Reed fired home an excellent touchline conversion.

Glasgow’s quick response was the stuff of front-row dreams, with loose-head Allan Dell helping tidy up scrappy ball near the halfway and managing to sniff out a gap to dart into, before releasing Matthews on a 30-yard rampage to the line.

A blindside break and excellent chase of his own chip ahead by Horne harassed Dragons flanker Ross Moriarty into a holding-on penalty five yards from his own line, Warriors went to the corner and Matthews claimed his hat-trick from the line-out maul with just 27 minutes played.

A Sione Tuipulotu fumble led to a Dragons scrum right into front of the Warriors posts, from which Rhodri Williams sent a floated miss-three pass which flummoxed Forbes and sent Rio Dyer over for his team’s second try which kept Dragons, just about, in the contest – but the Welshmen then suffered a major setback when former Warriors loose-head Aki Seiuli flew through a ruck and made head-on-head contract with Horne.

The sending off was the only justifiable outcome – the fact that Horne, who had fallen backwards clutching his head, didn’t go for an HIA is hard to fathom.

Warriors kicked the penalty to the corner to set up the maul for Matthews’ fourth.

To their credit, the 14 Dragons kept plugging away, and some determined tight work got them within range for Jared Rosser to burst over from another excellent pass from Rhodri Williams, making 33-19 at the break.


Matthews got his fifth early in the second half, and was replaced a few minutes later – immediately after Elliot Dee had rumbled over for Dragons’ fourth try – with the hooker receiving a standing ovation by the Scotstoun crowd.

His replacement, George Turner, wasted no time in getting in on the act, scoring Warriors’ seventh try off the back of yet another dominant line-out maul.

That opened the floodgates with Warriors sweeping to two more scores in the next two minutes by running it home straight from Dragons restarts. The first was scored by Cole Forbes after Jack Dempsey, Horne and Ollie Smith all made important contributions in a fine length-of-the-field score. The second featured a brilliant break from deep by Rory Darge, which was carried on by Horne and skipper Kyle Steyn, before Huw Jones finished off.

Warriors took their foot off the gas as Smith emptied his bench at the start of the final quarter. However, as the game entered its final 10 minutes, they struck again, with Steyn getting a well-deserved try off a clever set-move down the short-side of a line-out.

Warriors then lost Horne to the sin-bin for cynically slapping the ball out of opposite number Rhodri Williams’ hand at the back of a ruck. Dragons took advantage with Dee claiming a late consolation try, before the hosts finished with a flourish when Jones sent Steyn over on the stroke of full-time to break their all-time record for points in a single match.


Teams –

Glasgow Warriors: O Smith (J Dobie 64); K Steyn, H Jones, S Tuipulotu (T Jordan 76), C Forbes; D Miotti, G Horne; A Dell (N McBeth 47), J Matthews (G Turner 47), L Sordoni (S Berghan 47-67), S Cummings (J du Preez 72), R Gray (L Bean 64), R Darge, S Vailanu (R Wilson 34), J Dempsey.

Dragons: J Williams; R Dyer, S Hughes (I Davies 16), M Clark, J Rosser (L Jones, 67); W Reed, R Williams; A Seiuli, B Roberts (E Dee 41), C Coleman (L Brown 41), B Carter, G Nott (H Taylor 72), R Moriarty (B Fry 64), T Basham (R Jones, 42), A Wainwright (S Lonsdale 55).

Referee: Tual Trainini (France)


Scorers –

Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Horne, Matthews 5, Turner, Forbes, Jones, Steyn 2; Con: Horne 8, Miotti.

Dragons: Tries: J Williams, Dyer, Rosser, Dee 2; Con: Reed 4.

Scoring sequence (Glasgow first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 14-5; 14-7; 19-7; 24-7; 26-7; 26-12; 31-12; 33-12; 33-17; 33-19 (h-t) 38-19; 40-19; 40-24; 40-26; 45-26; 47-26; 52-26; 54-26; 59-26; 61-26; 66-26; 66-31; 66-33; 71-33; 73-33.


Yellow cards –

Warriors: Horne (76 mins)


Red cards –

Dragons: Seiuli (32 mins)

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About David Barnes 3381 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. The comments already summed this up – great attack with poor defence. And either Horne was genuinely hit which I think he was in which case he MUST be taken off or he was faking (I don’t think so) in which case he should be red carded.
    We have to do a better job of protecting the players.

  2. Dear Dogma,
    You only had to watch the Utube highlights and read the above report to realise that George Horne just doesn’t get involved, hardly keeps up with play, isn’t there for the offloads from other players or gets involved in end to end tries. When he improves and shows some effort no doubt he will be considered.
    Kind regards G.T.@SRU.

  3. much as I enjoyed the record score and some really terrific tries (take a bow Dell and Mathews) I can’t agree with those glossing over the tries conceded.
    5 against a really poor team, 3 of them when that poor team had only 14 players. 9 tries conceded in the last 2 games – in fact in the last game and a half! Not good enough

    • Its true our defence isn’t up to the highest standards and we will play tougher teams in the weeks ahead but its great to rejoice in the style that Glasgow is playing, our growing strength in depth, our team spirit, our attacking qualities and the turnaround from last season

  4. Just watched the highlights nearly 9 minutes of tries. As the man said “are you not amused”. How many times do you see 100+ points in a game, with a great set of tries from Glasgow. Mathews with 5 tries including his outrageous run in from the Dell break. End to end tries , maul tries. The support running was Glasgow at their best and was totally absent last year and great to see back in their game. You can be picky and worry about losing 33 points to Dragons but does it matter when you score 73. Next week might be a bit tougher but I think we can win this cup.

  5. While it might seem a bit churlish I was actually disappointed with last night’s performance. To lose 33 points to a 14-man team second bottom of the URC is unacceptable. If it had been 40 – nil then very good but our defence will need to improve drastically. Watching the other South African sides yesterday they are hard hard men who would have crushed us last night.
    On the positives Darge was excellent as was Horne who is now back to his best.

  6. The most impressive thing about this Glasgow squad is the huge improvement in the whole squad . Last year I would honestly have said half the squad looked like a collection of also rans , players who had not made the grade elsewhere or players in the twilight of career . Examples of each Stafford McDowell , Alan Dell , Simon Bergen Rory Darge ( when did you ever see Dell did run like that for Edinburgh ) , Richie Gray . Now look at them . Even more interestingly a lot of posts bemoan Edinburghs lack of first class 10 – well none of the Glasgow stand offs are the finished article far from it but they still function brilliantly – because they are a team that functions in all aspects of the game .. That’s what you want a team makes it easy for the 10 to perform and they are just another player – they all take responsibility scoring tries and securing territory . I cannot praise the coaching team enough and I just love Franco’s approach of improving every day , every game, every player. It really is one of the best example of quality management and coaching I have ever seen .

    • I take your point about those players who looked past it or not going to make it last year. But including Darge in that list is beyond mental, he was never in that category except in the mind of the dinosaur Cockerill who deemed him surplus to requirements in a previous season.
      Darge is a truly generational talent, obvious to everyone since his debut for Glasgow

    • Rory Darge has never had a bad game for Glasgow or Scotland. You can’t group him in with those other players.
      Also Allan Dell also only arrived at the start of this season so has only played under Franco Smith.
      Otherwise, I don’t disagree with your points.

  7. On a different note – why was Horne not taken off for an HIA, same as Ben White v France??? It also took circa 10mins for the Dragons Centre to be taken off for an HIA when all could see he was clearly out of sorts? Can’t help feeling that on the face of it, we’re not taking it seriously enough.

  8. Great watch tonight. Lethal in attack. Little worried at leaking 5 tries against that lot. Game but limited. Can’t wait for next week. Just to change tack. Having lost Doddie we’ve now lost Kenny Buchanan. Two giants of Scotland. Sad sad day. Salute the King of the Garden.

  9. At times it looked like an exhibition match, but a darned good one. Darge starts ahead of Watson by some distance right now for Scotland, as for that matter does Crosbie. George Horne is nipping at the heels of another cap, while Steyn is turning into quite the finisher. And that Glasgow pack is becoming more Irish than the Irish with every passing day – a weapon we will need come the World Cup. Six tries shared between the h00kers – when if ever did that last happen? Although I would have kept Matthews on for a few more minutes to give him a shot at the double hat trick. Shipping 33 points at home to a team like the Dragons? A mere detail on this occasion, although the defensive coach won’t like it.

  10. That was quite something after last night’s sobering episode. Glasgow have so many threats across the team. When a prop and a hooker combine to score in such a devastating manner, the opposition know they’re up against it. I’d be happy for Edinburgh to concede 5 tries in every game if they could dominate mediocre opposition in this fashion. Jonny Matthews deservedly got the PotM, but Rory Darge and Kyle Steyn had a major contribution in the outcome.

  11. Well that was an enjoyable romp after the turgid Edinburgh affair yesterday. Glasgow serve up so much variety to their play that seems completely absent with Edinburgh. I know it was just the Dragons but that trick line out move down the front of the line out that led to Steyns 2nd try was majestic. i see none of this sort of stuff from Edinburgh. A few other good tries in addition to the line out mauls.

    A tougher game next week and they will rightly want to have a look at how they conceded 5 tries as they won’t want to give other teams that sort of score. No reason why they cant make the final.

  12. Always good to have some stuff to work on to keep feet in the ground, but some of that this evening was just sublime… Shuggie’s try may have been the pick of the bunch, but Mathews run in versus a winger and scrummie was something to behold, and the dummy runner and sleight of hand by Horne for Steyns last try also a joy to watch….

    Lions next week – time for some revenge, although no pushovers, still very doable but need to cut out errors and improve defence../.

  13. Edinbro here ….. take a bow Glasgow … some performance

    But you’ll have to do something about that defence …. !

  14. So George Horne isn’t starting for Scotland??!!!! Seriously GT have a real look at it.


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