Glasgow v Exeter: Warriors revive Champions Cup campaign with win in the fog

Danny Wilson hails performance as the best in his time as head coach but promises that there is still more to come from his team

Sam Simonds of Exeter Chiefs tackles Glasgow Warriors No 8 Jack Dempsey. Image: © Craig Watson -
Sam Simonds of Exeter Chiefs tackles Glasgow Warriors No 8 Jack Dempsey. Image: © Craig Watson -

Glasgow Warriors 22

Exeter Chiefs 7

DAVID BARNES @ Scotstoun

DANNY WILSON hailed this performance and result – achieved in a pea soup fog at Scotstoun – as the highlight of his time with Glasgow Warriors to date, but insisted that the most pleasing thing is that his team still have improvements to make. That is important because, without detracting in any way from this achievement, they will have to raise their game several more notches when they head down to Exeter for the return match in the New Year, while La Rochelle at home isn’t going to be a picnic either. Warriors are now right in the mix for Champions Cup last 16 qualification, but there is very little margin for error in those two remaining pool matches.

“With the physicality of that game in France [the 20-13 defeat to La Rochelle last Sunday], to come back six days later and show even more physicality for long periods of this game was outstanding,” said Wilson.

“We had so many opportunities that we didn’t finish, such as that driving line-out at the end of the first half. But we showed real character when it got to 12-7 and we went down the other end and scored from a driving line-out and finished the game off. So [I’m] really pleased. We won that game comfortably – we were pretty dominant – but there’s a lot more to come.

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“This time last year our competition was a disaster so to get a bonus point away last week and a win today is massive. To win against a fully loaded Exeter side in the manner we did stands is my proudest moment, and and as a group our biggest achievement so far. But we need to get more consistent, and do what we did tonight on demand.”

“We have to play to our identity, which is to play fast, but we also have to be pragmatic,” he added. “You can’t always win games five tries to four, sometimes you have to grind games out by having a good set-piece, having a good defence, having a decent kicking game and staying in the arm-wrestle, whilst still recognising opportunities to play at the right time. I think tonight is the nearest we’ve got to that, we did play from deep at times but had a good pragmatic approach to deciding when to do that. When I came in as coach, that’s where I wanted to go, and that’s where I want to keep going.”

Visibility was so poor that there was serious discussions pre-match about whether the game should go ahead, but both teams were eager to play and the referee was ultimately satisfied that there was no safety implications.

Warriors set the tone for the match with a forceful start which eventually saw Ross Thompson open his team’s account with an offside penalty on 13 minutes. It wasn’t quite one way traffic during the first half, but the one meaningful period of pressure Exeter had inside the home 22 came up against a brick-wall defence, before a Jack Maunder knock-on followed by a scrum penalty allowed Warriors to relieve the pressure.

Then Jonny Gray was penalised for pulling down brother Richie at the line-out, allowing Thompson to send a touch-finder past halfway, and when George Turner burst from the back of the line-out maul it looked like the hooker was going to go all the way, however Tom O’Flaherty managed to get back to pull him down just a few feet short of the try-line.

Luke Cowan-Dickie prevented the quick recycle so play was brought back for yet another Exeter infringement, this time for side-entry, giving Warriors another chance to extend their lead before the break, but they failed to control the ball at the line-out.


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Warriors started the second half as they finished the first, with Sione Tuipulotu carrying well on three occasions before another side-entry penalty gave Thompson a chance to edge the hosts further ahead – but this time his effort rebounded off the left post.

The Warriors stand-off didn’t let that shake his focus, and when Exeter gave away another penalty two minutes later for going off their feet, Thompson fired home three long-range points. He then made it 9-0 after a collapsed Exeter scrum just past the 50-minute mark, and 12-0 when another scrum penalty was conceded by the visitors on 59 minutes.

Sam Simmonds finally got Exeter off the mark with nine minutes when he burrowed over after a relentless period of pressure, with brother Joe kicking the conversion, but Warriors kept their cool and Thompson kicked his fifth successful penalty of the night, before a last-minute try by replacement hooker Johnny Matthews, converted by Duncan Weir, sealed a well-deserved win.

“Pretty disappointing,” was Exeter Director of Rugby Rob Baxter‘s assessment. “Games in the Heineken Cup are tough, they challenge you in different ways, and I thought we did well to stay in the fight for large parts of the game – but that’s what it felt like, that we were fighting to stick in there.

“The stats will show that we just couldn’t keep hold of the ball. We lost it in a variety of ways, some of it very easily and some of it down to good play by Glasgow. But, on the whole, the phase stats will be scary, and show how little rugby we actually played.

“We looked like we couldn’t quite get in our stride, and Glasgow were really up for the fight, so it is something we need to talk about and look at before next time we come here. Rugby is a great game because you tend to win the games you deserve to win, and that’s what it felt like today.

“We’re a long way from dead in this competition, we’re a long way from dead in the Premiership, there is still a lot of exciting rugby left for us to play, and that’s what we have to get on with.”


Teams –

Glasgow Warriors: J McKay; K Steyn, S Tuipulotu, S Johnson, C Forbes; R Thompson (D Weir. 77), A Price© (G Horne 77); J Bhatti (O Kebble 51), G Turner ( J Matthews 51), Z Fagerson (E Pieretto, 65), S Cummings, R Gray (O Kebble 57), M Fagerson (R Harley 73), R Darge (T Gordon 71), J Dempsey.

Exeter Chiefs: S Hogg; J Nowell, H Slade, I Whitten (T Hendrickson 58), T O’Flaherty; J Simmonds, J Maunder (S Maunder 58); A Hepburn(B Moon 58), L Cowan-Dickie (J Yeandle 65), S Nixon (P Schickerling 49), J Gray (D Armand 65), J Hill (J Kirsten 58), D Ewers, S Skinner, S Simmonds

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)


Scorers –

Glasgow Warriors: Try: Matthews; Con: Weir; Pen: Thompson 5.

Exeter Chiefs: Tries: S Simmonds; Con: J Simmonds.

Scoring Sequence (Glasgow Warriors first): 3-0 (h-t) 6-0; 9-0; 12-0; 12-5; 12-7; 15-7; 20-7; 22-7.


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About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The 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. I stayed behind after the game with a few others in the east stand as the players went round the ground. You could sense some connection being made between players and fans. Got a feeling this was brand new and particularly special for darge and McKay – they were buzzing and so were the east stand remainder.

    So McKay, despite his name, is a fifth generation Scot, so no dice via granda. Just wondering what the new qualifying rules mean fir him? Would it be a five year wait or do they offer a quicker route if he wanted to play for Scotland?

  2. Last I was critical , this week the sound of the eating of humble pie.That was a great win for the guys, not that I saw much of the game it, was like watching ghosts. Really good games from Darge, Turner , Price,Styn and Demspey yet again from what I could see.

  3. Lazy editing here – the French officiating team couldn’t make it so were replaced. Referee was Andrew Brace.
    Great performance and result, well done Glasgow.

  4. The best performance for a long time but the attack is still not firing. With that level of dominance it should not have been one last minute try it should have have been a bonus point win.

  5. One of the best performances in recent times from Glasgow against a side that is very difficult to beat and stuffed us last year. It was hard to believe that you were watching the same team as some performances from earlier in the year. The intensity and ferocity at the contact has stepped up a notch and is up with the best. It could have been a lot more and Ive never seen Exeter so outplayed before. Still a tough route to qualify as they will have to beat La Rochelle at home but thats doable if they play like they did yesterday.

  6. Some result from our west coast friends, total domination from start to finish. Both Sarries and Exeter knocked off in consecutive weeks is an unbelievable achievement. The weather may have been gloomy but there’s plenty to get excited about on the pitch.

    • Going to be interesting to see who comes out on top v Edinburgh over the double header ! Both teams going well but both far from perfect.

  7. This was a trouncing that the scoreline hardly did justice to when compared with the territory chart. The Warriors had desire stamped throughout the team and that back row were truly guerrillas in the mist. Sometimes I feel a stab of anger when I see Scottish players lining up against their former clubs courtesy of those with much fatter cheque books, but both Hogg and Johnny Gray were eclipsed by their opposite numbers tonight. And despite dire warnings to the contrary, the Scottish pack had Exeter’s on toast from the get-go. Darge is surely a whisker away from his first Scotland cap, while Dempsey will hopefully qualify for the land of his grandparents next year and solve Scotland’s ‘big ball-carrying number eight’ dilemma at a stroke. Ali Price has matured out of sight since the Lions tour and Thompson grows with every passing match. After that woeful miss, the boy was faultless when others might easily have lost their goalkicking nerve. Excellent shifts by Turner, Tuipolotu and Mackay too, at long last Glasgow are starting to move through the gears. The upcoming inter-city contest should provide a cracking trial for the national team, with so many on both sides sticking their hands up in emphatic fashion. My final word concerns all that ridiculous fuss surrounding war bonnets. The fog made it impossible to see how many braves had actually made it into the ground, but one thing is sure – their team weren’t Apache on the Warriors!

    • Nice Dian Fossey reference!

      Is Dempsey that big, though? Say when compared to Aldritt, Vermeulen or Vunipola? Asking genuinely. Haven’t seen much of him yet and could barely see him on Saturday!

      • taller than BV, nor nearly as heavy. Much faster
        Not quite as tall as DV, not as heavy, again a lot faster
        Taller than Aldritt, not much in it weight wise and similarly explosive. This is the best comparator currently, but he is none of them. He is Jack Dempsey and is currently punching above his weight. I’m here all week

    • Totally agree re Price, much more effective than he was, whereas Horne seems to have gone backwards a bit? Maybe needs a bit more game time.

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