Glasgow Warriors 20
DAVID BARNES @ Scotstoun
FOUR valuable league points for Warriors, but they won’t be feeling particularly pleased with themselves after failing to capitalise during the final quarter on a commanding 20-0 lead against a Scarlets team reduced to 14 men by the red-carding of Sam Lousi. A team with top-of-the-table aspirations should really be targeting a bonus point in that situation – especially at home – but they got nowhere close.
These two sides have a reputation for playing fast-moving attractive rugby, but this was more of an arm-wrestle, especially during the first half, and Warriors head coach Danny Wilson will have been pleased with how his side battled their way into the lead during that period.
The game did open up after the break – aided by that red-card for Lousi and two yellow-cards for both Richie Gray and Nick Grigg – but it was ragged stuff. The search for the holy grail of flair with control goes on.
“For 55 to 60 minutes, I thought we were dominant and stuck to the game plan very well,” said Wilson afterwards. “We managed the game, got set-piece dominance and most aspects were functioning well, and I think we probably left a couple of scores out there, but then maybe our discipline slipped back for the last 20 minutes and allowed Scarlets to get back in the game.
“It’s a really good win, an important win,” he added. “Scarlets had a lot of Lions and internationals, although I know we were full of internationals as well. As a team our defence was really good in terms of collision, and I thought our 9 and 10 were outstanding in terms of game management. I’m pleased overall, but we still have a lot to do on discipline.”
Warriors set their stall out early with Rob Harley getting up to disrupt a second minute line-out, and Fraser Brown winning a penalty over the ball in the middle of the park not long later, but Scarlets were equally intransigent during the opening quarter, which led to both sides struggling to build any sort of continuity
Adam Hastings had the first opportunity for either side to break the deadlock just before the 20-minute mark but sclaffed his 35-yard effort. The stand-off made some amends eight minutes later when his cross-field kick to Ratu Tagive opened Scarlets up for the first time in the match and when Scott Cummings was tackled high a few moments later, Hastings stepped forward to nail the points from an almost identical position to his previous miss.
A third penalty in quick succession was awarded against Scarlets openside Josh Maclead for going off his feet, but this time Hastings’ effort didn’t have the legs.
Warriors, however, kept the pressure on and they got their reward when Oli Kebble rumbled over from close range, following a good run by Tagive up the left touchline, and Hastings added the easy conversion.
Zander Fagerson was penalised for an illegal bind just before the break but an uncharacteristic miss from Leigh Halfpenny meant the margin stayed at eight points as the teams disappeared down the tunnel at half-time.
Scarlets were reduced to 14 men after just two minutes of the second half when second-row Sam Lousie saw red for high tackle which put Tagive. out of the match, which was a same because the Warriors winger had been arguably the game’s most lively attacking player up until that point.
Warriors looked to turn the screw, winning a series of close-range penalties, and it was Ryan Wilson on the ball when the pressure finally paid-off, teeing up another easy conversion for Hastings.
If the watching Gregor Townsend and his fellow national team coaches were encouraged by the grittiness Warriors were showing here, they will have been concerned to see Scarlets flanker Blade Thomson – whois expected to be named in Scotland’s training squad tomorrow – retiring with an apparent arm injury during the lead-up to that try.
When the eight Warriors forwards overpowered the seven Scarlets forwards to win a scrum penalty 10 yards in from the right touchline with 50 minutes played, it was a surprise that Hastings opted to go the posts rather than the corner, but the decision was vindicated when he dissected the posts t make it 20. However, you would have fancied it being five or seven points rather than just three, if they had gone for the close-range line-out, and that would have meant Warriors being just one try away from the bonus point.
Perhaps sensing that Warriors had passed up an opportunity to kill them off, Scarlets rallied, and snatched themselves a foothold in the match when tight-had prop Sansom Lee picked up at the base of a ruck close to the hosts’ line and caught out Rob Harley with a dummy before burrowing over.
An outside break from Hastings put Warriors briefly back on the front foot, but the tide during the last 20 minutes was predominantly with Scarlets, and as the game entered the final ten minutes, Warriors found themselves down to 13 men when first of all replacement second-row Gray was sin-binned for an offside on his own line, and then Grigg joined him on the naughty step for a high tackle.
Scarlets tried to push their way over but their line-out didn’t quite deliver the quality of ball they needed, then a Tommy Seymour and Niko Matawalu combination managed to squeeze Steff Evans out in the corner, before Warriors eventually managed to escape the danger zone when Hastings intercepted on his own line and kicked a 60-yards clearance down field.
A comfortable win in the end, but still a lot to work on.
Glasgow Warriors: H Jones; T Seymour, N Grigg, S McDowall, R Tagive (N Matawalu 42); A Hastings, A Price (G Horne 67); O Kebble (A Seiuli 62), F Brown (G Turner 70), Z Fagerson, R Harley, S Cummings, R Wilson (R Gray 61), T Gordon (C Fusaro 70), M Fagerson.
Scarlets: L Halfpenny; T Rogers, J Davies, J Williams, S Evans; D Jones (R Patchell 42), G Davies; W Jones (P Price 55), R Elias (K Owens 55-69), S Lee (J Sebastian 67), J Ball, S Lousi, B Thomson (L Rawlins 45), J Macleod (J Davies 34), S Kalamafoni.
Referee: F Murphy
Glasgow Warriors: Try: Kebble; Con: Hastings 2; Pen: Hastings 2
Scarlets: Try: Lee; Con: Halfpenny.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow Warriors first): 3-0; 8-0 10-0 (h-t) 15-0; 17-0; 20-0; 20-5; 20-7.
Yellow cards –
Glasgow Warriors: Gray, Grigg
Red cards –