Celtic Challenge: Glasgow well beaten by clinical Clovers

Fourth straight defeat leaves Warriors rooted to the foot of the six-team table

Glasgow Warriors are still hunting their first win of this Celtic Challenge campaign after going down to Clovers at Scotstoun. Image: Peter Watt
Glasgow Warriors are still hunting their first win of this Celtic Challenge campaign after going down to Clovers at Scotstoun. Image: Peter Watt

Glasgow Warriors 10
Clovers 29

GLASGOW are still looking for their first match point of any description in the Celtic Challenge after losing their fourth game in as many starts. Having scored two tries, been held up over the line and come close another couple of times, they might just have scraped a try bonus against the Clovers in this game at Scotstoun. But, having said that, they were well beaten by Irish opponents who were clearly superior in the set piece and were far more adept at finishing.

There were individual instances of excellence among the Warriors ranks. Scotland and Saracens centre Beth Blacklock, for example, enjoyed an impressive debut, not only taking her try well but also kicking astutely and providing some reassuring leadership in midfield. Loosehead prop Ailie Tucker got through a power of work in the loose with some Schoemanesque carries, and scrum-half Mairi McDonald was just about the most quick-witted player on either side.

But the Clovers were simply better co-ordinated at the lineout, more powerful in the scrum, and more able to run good support lines. Their indiscipline had them in difficulties at times, but that demerit was offset by the Warriors’ high unforced-error count.

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“We have to find a way of staying in the game for longer periods of time,” Glasgow coach Chris Laidlaw said. “But there are definitely elements of the game where we can see improvements each week. Our attack has come on throughout the competition  we’re just not quite able to capitalise on pressure for long enough and punish teams.”

It took the visitors just a few minutes to go ahead, and there was no real suggestion after that score that Glasgow would be able to mount a fightback. The Irishwomen had wrapped up the try bonus by the break, and if they were less impressive in the second 40, well, the contest was more or less over by then.

It was player of the match Kate Flannery who created the early breakthrough, lofting a kick up towards the left wing. Alana McInerney gathered cleanly, then passed inside to Méabh Deely for a simple finish. Stand-off Flannery converted.

That touchdown was one instance of soft defence from the home side, and another soon followed when Clovers captain Dorothy Wall got her team’s second try from a lineout. The lock gathered the throw-in from Beth Buttimer, and although the hooker went straight to the back of the maul, no doubt expecting to get the ball back, the skipper was able to finish off from the front.

As Glasgow tried to hit back, so the Clovers’ penalty count rose, and eventually Abbie Salter-Townshend was shown a yellow card for offside. That offence came just after Mairi McDonald had touched down, but the referee saw something wrong with the finish so did not award the score.

The visitors not only held out well when a woman down, they would have stretched their lead but for a last-ditch tackle on McInerney by Sky Phimister. Once restored to their full complement, they took only a couple of minutes to get their third try, a one-two between Buttimer and Wall at a lineout finished off by the former.

After No 8 Ivana Kiripati got the fourth from a powerful run, Flannery’s conversion took the score to 0-24 just after the half-hour mark and the Warriors seemed at some risk of a seriously heavy defeat. But they got off the mark just before half-time with an unconverted try by Izzy Hannay, who ran an intelligent line to latch on to a Blacklock offload. And they then held their own in a scoreless third quarter in which both teams were held up over their opponents’ goal lines.

When the first score of the second 40 did come, it went the Clovers’ way – although it should not have stood as replacement lock Brianna Heylmann failed to ground the ball. It did stand, however, and that put paid to any lingering hopes the Warriors might have had of a serious comeback.

To their credit, however, they continued to compete energetically, and with quarter of an hour left were rewarded by Blacklock’s score, a fine solo finish off first phase from a scrum.  

“Beth has added a lot to our group, from training on Thursday to on the field today,” Laidlaw added. “She’s a strong carrier, a real kicking threat and she brought a lot of experience to the squad.”


Teams –

Glasgow: C McDonald; S Phimister (R Fraser 23), L MacRae, B Blacklock, P Snailham; C Ainsworth, M McDonald (R Clarke 64); A Tucker (D Swann 64), N Simpson (K Craig 64), E Fleming (C Brown 54), E Thomson (E Williamson 64), E Turner, H Bogan, I Hannay, L Winter (M Hyland 64).

Clovers: M Deely; C Gorman (C Ugwuere 67), A Corey, K Waldron, A McInerney; K Flannery (M O’Driscoll 64), A Salter-Townshend (A Hughes 53); N O’Dowd (G Burke 72), B Buttimer (L Brady 70), S McGrath (R Ormand 52), F Oviawe, D Wall, J Clohessy (B Heylmann 41), E McMahon, I Kiripati (S Touhey 70).

Referee: Kieran Stark.

Scorers –

Glasgow: Tries: Hannay, Blacklock.

Clovers: Tries: Deely, Wall, Buttimer, Kiripati, Heylmann; Cons: Flannery 2.

Scoring sequence (Glasgow first): 0-5, 0-7, 0-12, 0-17, 0-22, 0-24, 5-24 half-time, 5-29, 10-29.

Yellow card –

Clovers: Salter-Townshend (13 mins).

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About Stuart Bathgate 1363 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.