Glasgow Warriors 15
DAVID BARNES @ Scotstoun
DANNY WILSON was disappointed but not despondent after watching his team’s promising start to the season unravel when they came up well short against a typically abrasive and relentless Leinster performance.
“They are a good side, there is no doubt about that, but you give them a 10-0 start then you know you are going to be up against it,” said the Warriors head coach. “Our first defensive set was poor and we got marched up the pitch. We spoke all week about how you have to be physical and win collisions against this team and we didn’t do that tonight.
“You can’t come off second in that physical battle against Leinster because that means they get speed of ball which they are absolutely lethal with. And we were trying to play off too much slow ball, which doesn’t suit us.”
“So, there are lost of learnings and I said to the boys afterwards that that’s the level we want to be at. They are the best team in the league. They are the champions. So, it is a tough lesson tonight but we have to look at it and say: ‘How do we get more like that performance in the last game of last season [when Warriors beat Leinster]?’
“We had far more entries into their 22 than they had into ours, but we got turned over too many times. And on the other side, we weren’t physical enough defensively in the first half.”
Warriors now face a frustrating five weeks out of action while the Autumn Test window plays out before they get a chance to get this disappointing defeat out of their system with a trip to Benetton on 27th November.
“There are lots of positives from this first block of games. I’m relatively happy with the 15 league points we have collected, picking up two bonus points in Ulster and winning three games, but I’m disappointed that we didn’t get anything out of it tonight,” said Wilson. “If wr can come back and beat Treviso and the Dragons then we’ll get back into the top four, and that’s where we want to be.”
The good news from a Scottish rugby perspective is that there did not appear to be any serious injury concerns ahead of the internationalists in the squad beginning their build-up to next Saturday’s opening Autumn Test against Tonga, although Rory Darge did pick up a knee knock.
“Rory was struggling a little bit, I could tell he wasn’t quite as sharp as he has been, but I’m sure he’ll be fine,” said Wilson.
Ross Byrne edged the visitors into a fifth minute lead with a successful 40-yarder after Zander Fagerson was penalised for taking out Leinster scrum-half Luke McGrath.
And the Dubliners stretched their scoreboard advantage to 10 points just two minutes later when Dan Leavy and Adam Byrne combined to release Ronan Kelleher up the right touchline. The hooker brushed off Johnny Matthews, stepped inside Ross Thompson and carried Rufus McLean over the line – with Ross Byrne adding the touchline conversion.
A powerful burst from Sione Tuipuloto put Warriors into the Leinster 22 for the first time on 10 minutes, and Thompson got the hosts off the mark with a straight-forward penalty from in front of the sticks.
Warriors then enjoyed a period of pressure but kept coughing up possession when they got inside the strike zone. Leinster, meanwhile, were ruthless when they next got back on the front foot, building pressure with several powerful phases, then claiming try number two when James Lowe sent Hugo Keenan home.
Warriors threatened with three minutes left in the first half when Sam Johnson put Tuipuloto through a gap straight off scrum ball. The return pass was juggled but Johnson managed to slap the ball in the direction of Thompson who was collided with opposite number Keenan as they stretched to retrieve possession. The Warriors man went sprawling, and referee Craig Evans decided to have a second look via the TMO, before deciding that a try – and not a penalty try – was the appropriate punishment.
There was some graceless booing from the Scotstoun crowd after that decision, but, in fact, Warriors were perhaps lucky to get the penalty. It meant they could keep the pressure on, and after Leinster No8 Jack Conan was sent to the sinbin for playing the ball on the deck, Australian No 8 Jack Dempsey powered over from close range, with Thompson’s conversion making it 17-10 at the break.
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It took a brilliant last-gasp tackle from Darge to stop a third Leinster score on the left after great work from Keenan with 10 minutes of the second half played, but it was only a temporary reprieve for the Warriors, and Leinster claimed try number three just two-minutes later when Adam Byrne managed to get the ball down under pressure from Johnson.
After another bombardment of the Warriors line, the visitors picked up the bonus point on the hour mark through replacement hooker Dan Sheehan.
Warriors kept plugging away, and McLean did well to put George Horne into space, but Leinster got back to snuff out the threat then snaffle possession.
The fact that a group of home fans in the main stand were trying to initiate a Mexican wave with 15 minutes still to play illustrated that this game was already over as a contest.
Replacement scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park was the second Leinster player to be yellow-carded when he shoved opposite number Horne with two minutes to go. Visiting head coach Leo Cullen expressed disappointment afterwards at the Warriors player’s theatrical reaction. He may have had a point.
Replacement second-row Lewis Bean’s last-minute try gave the home fans something to celebrate at the end – but it was a muted cheer.
Glasgow Warriors (v Leinster at the Scotstoun Stadium, Friday 7.35pm British time): R Thompson; K Steyn, S Tuipulotu (N Grigg 71), S Johnson, R McLean; D Weir (C Forbes 56), A Price (G Horne 54); J Bhatti (O Kebble 46), J Matthews (G Turner 41), Z Fagerson (E Pieretto 54), R Harley (L Bean 76), R Gray, R Wilson, R Darge (M Fagerson 63), R Wilson.
Leinster: H Keenan; A Byrne, G Ringrose (J Osborne, 70), C Frawley, J Lowe; R Byrne, L McGrath (J Gibson-Park, 63); C Healy (E Byrne 54), R Kelleher (D Sheehan 54), T Furlong (M Ala’alatoa 54), R Molony, R Baird ( D Toner 50), C Doris (R Ruddock 67), D Leavy (J van der Flier 50), J Conan.
Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)
Glasgow Warriors: Try: Dempsey, Bean; Con: Thompson; Pen: Thompson.
Leinster: Tries: Kelleher, Keenan, A Byrne, Sheehan; Cons: R Byrne 4; Pen: R Byrne
Scoring sequence (Glasgow first): 0-3; 0-8; 0-10; 3-10; 3-15; 3-17; 8-17; 10-17 (h-t) 10-22; 10-24; 10-29; 10-31; 15-31
Yellow cards –
Leinster: Conan (37mins), Gibson-Park (79mins)
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