Dragons v Glasgow: Warriors extend unbeaten streak to nine games

Stafford McDowall and Fraser Brown impress for Franco Smith's side

Stafford McDowall scored a try and led by example for Glasgow Warriors versus Dragons. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Stafford McDowall scored a try and led by example for Glasgow Warriors versus Dragons. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Dragons 28

Glasgow Warriors 42

FRANCO SMITH’S Warriors extended their unbeaten streak to nine games with a comprehensive win on the road, which leaves them fifth in the URC table, just one point behind the Bulls, having played a game less than their South African rivals.

Fraser Brown scored two first half tries to set Glasgow on course and was named man-of-the-match, which can’t have done his chances of Scotland selection for next weekend’s Calcutta Cup clash any harm, but he was hardly bouncing off the walls with elation afterwards.

“It was a mixed bag, to be honest,” he shrugged. “When we controlled the ball and got into the Dragons’ 22, we came away with points – but there was too many times in the game we lost our way and let them back in.

“I can’t take too much credit because I was just on the back of the maul,” he retorted, when asked about his own try-scoring contribution.

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The other five players released by the Scotland camp for this match also seemed to come through the contest unscathed, with Ali Price‘s departure early in the second half suggesting that he might have work to do next weekend, while Jack Dempsey‘s 75 minutes might be construed as an indication that he is not quite so central to national head coach Gregor Townsend‘s plans.

Captain for the day Stafford McDowall was always a long shot to make his international debut against England and his 80 minutes underlines that theorem, although he can be generally pleased with his muscular and intelligent contribution, which was only slightly blotted by the interception try he handed out midway through the first half.

It took Warriors all of one minute and 51 seconds to get the scoreboard rolling, withMcDowall bumping his man and popping to Sam Johnson, who pulled in three defenders with an arcing run before executing a neat scissors which sent Cole Forbes under the posts.

With Dragons coughing up three cheap penalties straight from the restart, Warriors strolled straight back into the red-zone and soon doubled their account when a line-out thrown to Jack Dempsey at the tail was mauled over the line for Brown to dot down.

It was one-way traffic during the first eight minutes, but Dragons finally woke-up after  Duncan Weir – having kicked both conversions – guddled the restart and Warriors were punished for an early drive at the scrum. The hosts didn’t take immediate advantage, and a dropped ball was scooped up by Josh McKay to briefly relieve the pressure, but the Welshmen came again to open their account when Rhodri Williams picked up and scampered past some dozy ruck defence to dot down under the sticks.

Then, just as quickly as Warriors had opened up that 14-point lead, it was back to all-square when McDowall pushed a bit too hard to get the ball wide and Sio Tomkinson picked-off the looping pass then ran it home.

Warriors recovered their composure to push ahead again with another Dempsey line-out take and Brown once again getting the downward pressure. The try awarded by referee Frank Murphy after a discussion with the TMO about whether Lewis Bean had got himself in an offside position at the front of the maul.

Dragons were reduced to 14-men for 10 minutes just before the break when niggly hooker Brodie Coghlan shouldered Ali Price off the ball, and Warriors quickly took advantage with Weir stretching over for the bonus-point try.


It looked like Warriors had extended their lead when McDowall, Johnson, Price and Weir made the initial running, before Lewis Bean rumbled over, but a review of the footage showed that the big second-row had picked up from an offside position and the score was chalked off.

There was no doubt about the try standing five minutes later when McDowall hit the line like a runaway train and swatted off tacklers like flies on his way to the line.

But Dragons weren’t done yet. They battled back to score their third try with Taine Basham battling over, and as their energy levels zoomed upwards, Warriors began to tire, conceding a series of penalties and finding themselves pinned back deep inside their 22 defending desperately.

However, a lack of home accuracy and some commendable obstinacy from the visitors meant Warriors did not concede again during that period under the pump, and a 75-yard interception try from Sebastian Cancelliere with five minutes go killed off any lingering hopes the Dragons had of a comeback victory.

Replacement scrum-half Jamie Dobie had a brilliantly taken try chalked off before the end because – as with Bean’s earlier disallowed try –it was ruled that Sione Vailanu was in an offside position when he picked up from the back of a ruck at the start of the sweeping attack.

Instead, Dragons salvaged a consolation bonus-point deep into injury time when replacement prop Chris Coleman rumbled over from close-range.


Teams –

Glasgow Warriors: J McKay; S Cancelliere, S McDowall, S Johnson, C Forbes; D Weir (T Jordan 66), A Price (J Dobie 46); J Bhatti (N McBeth 65), F Brown (J Matthews 65), S Berghan (L Sordoni 65), L Bean, J du Preez (A Samuel 75), T Gordon (C Neild 65), S Vailanu, J Dempsey (E Ferrie 75).

Dragons: J Williams (S Davies, 65); J Rosser (S Hughes 48), S Tomkinson, J Dixon, A Hewitt; J Hanrahan, R Williams (L Jones 70); R Jones (A Seiuli 48), B Coghlan (J Benjamin  70), L Fairbrother (C Coleman 48), M Screech, B Carter, G Nott (B Fry 41, J Benjamin 42-49), S Lonsdale ( H Taylor 70), T Basham.


Scorers –

Dragons: Tries: R Williams, Tomkinson, Basham, Coleman; Con: Hanrahan 4.

Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Forbes, Brown 2, Weir, McDowall, Cancelliere; Cons: Weir 5, Jordan.

Scoring sequence (Dragons first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 5-14; 7-14; 12-14; 14-14; 14-19; 14-21; 14-26; 14-28 (h-t) 14-33; 14-35; 19-35; 21-35; 21-30; 21-42; 26-42; 28-42.


Yellow cards  –

Dragons: Coghlan (38mins)

URC: Edinburgh fightback falls just short against Sharks

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About David Barnes 3288 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he 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. Credit where its due, the coaching team have revived a number of Glasgow players, with Richie Gray and George Horne the most obvious examples, but there are others besides. Not many would have bet on a bright future for McDowall, but he’s clearly worked with the coaches to raise his game and is reaping the reward. The team’s hard work is reflected in results and it must be a great reward for the faithful in the stands who had to endure some notably rocky performances last season.

  2. I wonder where Price’s head is at. He seems to be about the only player in the squad that hasn’t improved since Smith arrived. He’s certainly got plenty of competition for the 9 shirt.

    Good to see Johnson back and in fine form. Lots of competition in the centres for both Glasgow and Scotland.

  3. strange game and I tend to view it same as Fraser Brown did in his post match interview – not good enough

    Scoring 6 tries away from home not to be sniffed at. Letting Dragons of all teams (worst in league for tries) score 4 simply not good enough. A way still to go for this squad
    Still, good to watch and long may the run continue

  4. My goodness, Dobie showed what Ali Price is no longer I.e. electric pace, the opposition back row looking in all directions, wondering in what direction Dobie may or may not go, exactly what a No.9 should be? Please, give this lad some regular game time, not the odd 20 mins?

    The box kick bubble that Ali now exists in, will not cut it at international level, at least not when the kicks are regularly so over cooked the opposition have time aplenty to field. He’s been a great servant, but his game has become so predictable, the opposition can read his play book at leisure, they know what’s coming, and for an international 9 that’s not going to test or keep your opponents guessing?

    Ali, thank you, but with the greatest of respect, time has moved on, unless you can rev up your game again, and make it unpredictable?

    I feel sure you’ll continue to be an excellent servant for Glasgow, but international scrum-half rugger is now a mantle, the Dobie’s and the George Horne’s of this Scottish rugby world need to grab and pick up, NOW!

    Dear Mr.Townsend, please take note.

    • George, scrum halfs do not box kick because they wan to box kick. They do it because the coaches want them to. All top scrum halfs from all top teams. Club and International level. DuPont kicks more than any of them and he is pretty good.


    • and while I too like 9s who can break, its more important that first they can do the basics well – get to breakdowns, swift accurate passes off either hand, yes box kick well, manage the game
      Flash runs are all well and good but not nearly enough
      Fortunately Dobie does all the basics really well – that is why he was signed while still at school. His form hadn’t been great his last few opportunities, but he was very good in this match. Very good indeed

  5. Glasgow looking like they are all signing from the same hymn sheet, regardless of who plays.
    All forwards seem happy to step up and pass the ball from the base of rucks when Ali Price isn’t in position, which worryingly is fairly often.
    To be able to field a quality midfield and back three when so many are way on international duty is really impressive.

  6. Excellent performance given Weir’s couple of terrible errors (dropped restart and out on the full) and McDowalls interception.
    Glasgow looked better when Weir wasn’t in 10 position.
    Sam Johnson was excellent (best player on the park), Dempsey showed up well he should be starting 8 on Saturday.
    Franco Smith has the guys well drilled and on a very impressive run, keep this ip and he may be in pole position for a promotion come October.

    • Hi John lets not get too excited, Smith is doing a great job with Glasgow but doesn’t have a great International track record. Scotland need a truly World class coach to make the most of the fact we have thrown up a group of players that are way more talented than we deserve given the limited playing numbers in Scotland.

  7. Enjoyable game with lots of a mixed bag of tries, forward rumbles and winger panache. Thought Dobie had one of his best cameo games and Fraser Brown was his aggressive best, putting himself in to the places the faint hearted never go. The backs were generally good with Johnson , Cancelliere and McDowall having a good game. Not sure what happened to Mathews and his throw in’s not sure if he messed up 4 or 5 but they were all important and let Dragons get good field position as a result. Still that’s 9 on the trot way to go Mr Smith

  8. Enjoyable game only slightly ruined by the most intrusive and irritating TMO I’ve ever witnessed. No wonder games take over 2 hours to complete these days. The powers that be must act. TMO’s should only adjudicate on line decisions, dangerous play or if the on field ref asks them to look at something. Otherwise they should just shut up. Good win otherwise. We do need to look after the ball in contact better. Superior sides to Dragons will punish us. Dobie and Cancelliere (who should have got MoM) both top class. Exciting times at Scotstoun again

  9. I think Jamie Dobie’s all-round game makes him the best Scottish 9 and he should be starting for Scotland. If he doesn’t get more starts for Glasgow, he needs to find another club. After the last Lions tour, one journalist forecast he would be the Lions 9 on the next tour !

    • Couldn’t agree more. Whenever he comes on he looks electric and I have been worried for some time that an occasional game as 3rd choice is not enough to develop his game. He needs to be a regular starter somewhere and if its not Glasgow I suspect other clubs would snap him up.

  10. Time was that the Six Nations window meant a panning for the two Scottish pro clubs. No longer the case and this was a great example of squad depth, for Glasgow never ever looked like losing. Shame Dobie’s try was chalked off amid the deluge, but his time is close.

  11. Great win away from home, against what used to be a real bogey team for us. Some areas to tighten up on in decision making ie when to run and when to kick exit, and when to play without the ball in opposition half as opposed to persisting to attack from own 22.

    Doesn’t take away from some really good performances including Brown, Johnson, great to see big Stafford coming into his own, and boy didn’t Dobie look so sharp and quick when he came on in comparison to Price – I’ll be shocked but not surprised if he starts at Twickenham.

    As a man manager Franco really seems to be getting so much right at the moment – keep it going!

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