Glasgow Warriors 7
Newcastle Falcons 12
DAVID BARNES @ Scotstoun
A LATE breakaway try from Falcons centre George Wacokecoke clinched a narrow win for the visitors in a match which served as a useful first hit-out of the season for both sides, but failed to really take off as a sporting spectacle. Not that Warriors head coach Danny Wilson was too concerned about that when he spoke afterwards, and neither should he be because at this early stage in the campaign it is all about getting his ducks in a row for the bigger and more important challenges which are coming down the track.
The big negative from the evening was the suspected broken jaw suffered by Ratu Tagive during the first half.
“We exposed 30 players to the game, which gave us a lot of information about those boys,” said Wilson. “We had some new signings, some experienced pros, some academy boys and a couple of Super6 boys. Therefore we had a look at a lot of players, which is what this game was about.
“I was a little bit disappointed in that last try for the result not to go our way. I thought the amount of opportunities we created, especially in the first 50 minutes – we’ve got to put some of those away. On another day we will. We were a little bit rusty in a pre-season friendly, but there were lots of encouraging things and we got lots of contact under our belt ready for the next game.”
This match heralded the long-awaited return of crowds to Scotstoun for the first time since March 2020, but despite the 3,464 fans who made it along to see their side in the flesh, it all seemed a bit quiet and rather surreal.
There was polite ripples of applause, even for fairly mediocre pieces of play, but very few throaty shouts of encouragement or exasperation, and while small pockets of die-hards tried to get the old ‘Glasgow, Glasgow’ chant going it didn’t ever get past three repeats before tapering off.
It wasn’t until prodigal son Duncan Weir nailed a clever 50-22 kick which set up a line-out 10 yards from the Falcons line with 12 minutes played that the decibel level got above the level required to stir a snoozing kitten – and then only briefly because the subsequent attack was derailed by a knock-on from the generally excellent Rory Darge.
Finally, in the 18th minute, that man Weir got the fans on their feet when he streaked home under the posts from 20-yards and added the conversion himself to make it 7-0, after Johnny Matthews had sparked an attack off turnover ball on the Warriors 10 metre line.
With Falcons flanker Will Welch in the sin-bin for a late tackle on Sean Kennedy, Warriors took a firm grip of the match as the half hour mark approached, although a combination of early-season rustiness and some resolute visiting defence meant the hosts did not extend their lead.
They came close a couple of times. Stafford McDowall released Kiran McDonald down the left, but his pass back inside to Weir – who else? – didn’t go to hand, and Lewis Bean got over the line but couldn’t face the ball down a few minutes later.
Stirling County Super6 player Logan Trotter replaced Tagive on the left wing at the start of the second half and had one or two promising touches. He might even have marked his debut with a try after quick hands from Weir released Rufus McLean on the right, but once again the killer pass didn’t go to hand.
A bench clearance of 12 players on 51 minutes, followed by the final two new faces on 61 minutes, meant that it was a completely different fifteen during the final quarter to the Warriors side that started the game, and things inevitably became even more disjointed for the hosts.
England No8 Callum Chick romped home from halfway off an interception and Will Haydon-Wood converted to tie the match on 67 minutes, and there was then a lengthy hold-up on 74 minutes while an unidentified Falcons player was treated and then stretchered from the field.
When play eventually resumed, Warriors looked livelier than they had since that mildly purple patch midway through the first half, but two promising moves washed up on the rocks because of dropped passes, and when Wacokecoke scooted clear and over the line on a weaving run from halfway with just 20 seconds left on the clock, it prompted a mass exodus from the Scotstoun stands.
The departing masses were not furious. This was a pre-season hit-out after all. Mildly bemused and slightly bored would better describe it.
“The first thing is it’s brilliant to have the fans here, and brilliant to have an atmosphere in the ground because it’s been a long time,” concluded Wilson. “It’s a pre-season friendly, it’s a first hit-out, it’s a chance for boys to get on the field and play lots of different combinations. These games are going to be scrappy affairs at times.”
Glasgow Warriors: O Smith (C Forbes 51); R McLean (F Callaghan 61), S Tuipulotu (N Grigg 61), S McDowall (P Horne 51), R Tagive (L Trotter 41); D Weir ( R Thompson 51), S Kennedy (J Dobie 51); T Lambert (G Thornton 51), J Matthews (G Stewart 51), M McCallum (M Walker 51), L Bean (M Williamson 51), R Gray (R Harley 51), K McDonald (S Cummings 51), R Darge (T Gordon 51), R Wilson (R Jackson 51).
Newcastle Falcons: M Brown; O Lindsay-Hague, G Wacokecoke, P Lucock, I Stephens; B Connon, S Stuart; A Brocklebank, G McGuigan, M Tampin, M Fuser, P van der Walt, J Basham, W Welch, C Chick.
Subs used: R Smith, K Cooper, C Kenny, M Dalton, C Fearns, J Blackett, W Haydon-Wood, B Stevenson, M Dormer, O Caudle, G Merrick, F Lockwood, M Tiffen, E Greenlaw, L Johnson.
Glasgow Warriors: Try: Weir. Con: Weir.
Newcastle Falcons: Tries: Chick, Wacokecoke. Con: Haydon-Wood.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow Warriors first): 5-0; 7-0 (h-t) 7-5; 7-7; 7-12.
Yellow card: Newcastle Falcons: Welch (23mins).
Referee: H Davidson (SRU).