Lyon v Glasgow: French fightback denies Warriors semi-final slot

Cole Forbes scored one of the Warriors' three tries as they lost to Lyon. Image: © Craig Watson.

Lyon 35

Glasgow Warriors 27

GLASGOW Warriors endured the same fate that had befallen Edinburgh earlier in the day when they suffered a painful European Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat. The Scottish outfit battled back from a shaky start to build a two-score lead early in the second half. But the home side stepped on the gas in the closing stages to take the win and set up a home semi final against Wasps.  

Warriors knew they had to contain the hosts in the early moments. They failed to do so and were under pressure instantly with knock on from the kick off, and within a minute Lyon earned a penalty which Leo Berdeu stroked over to set the scoreboard ticking.

Warriors were under pressure, but showed their ability to strike on the counterattack when Josh McKay broke from his own half and chipped ahead. Neither Ali Price nor Lyon full-back Toby Arnold could gather the loose ball which bounced nicely for McKay and he raced in for the try. Ross Thompson stroked over the conversion.

McKay was prominent again in the next Warriors attack, but the hosts were soon back on the offensive and Berdeu cut the deficit to a point when he was on target with another penalty.

Warriors thought they had struck again in 19 minutes when Price went head-to-head with his opposite number Baptiste Couilloud in chasing a chip ahead. The pair appeared to reach the ball simultaneously and after consultation with the TMO, the decision went the Frenchman’s way.

The visitors were enjoying their best period of possession and a multi-phase attack yielded a penalty in front of the posts, which Thompson clipped over to take the Warriors’ tally into double figures. And a carbon copy of that effort a few minutes later extended the lead as the clock ticked towards the half-hour mark.

Lyon’s pack had the better up front and that superiority appeared to have paid off when Beka Saginadze blasted his way over. However, the TMO had spotted a neck roll by Felix Lambey on Zander Fagerson and the try was disallowed, although the score did come just a couple of minutes later. A penalty a few metres shy of the Warriors line handed the hosts another chance and Couilloud took a quick tap before diving over and leaving Berdeu a simple conversion to square matters.

The Warriors heads did not go down, though, and just before the break they struck back when Johnny Matthews made a dent down the right wing and the recycled ball was spun left to Sam Johnson whose long pass picked out McKay and he freed Cole Forbes to hurtle over. Thompson’s conversion left Warriors seven points clear at the interval.

Warriors enjoyed the territorial advantage in the early part of the second period and the pressure paid off in 49 minutes. A penalty was despatched into touch and George Turner picked out Richie Gray with the throw and as Warriors drove over, Berdeu halted the move illegally. The referee awarded a penalty try and sent the home stand off to the sin bin.

Lyon responded with an attack that ended with McKay producing a thundering tackle that sent Davit Niniashvili into touch just short of the line. The referee showed Jamie Bhatti a yellow card for coming in from the side, although the offence had occurred too far out to merit a penalty try.

The hosts were enjoying some renewed pressure and they clawed their way back into the game after eventually finding a route through a resolute Warriors defence when Romain Taofifenua crashed over. Jean-Marc Doussin’s conversion left the deficit at seven points.

The gap fell even further just after the hour when Pierre-Louis Barassi freed Niniashvili for a run to the line. Berdeu’s unsuccessful conversion effort meant Warriors still clung to a slender lead. However, the Lyon stand off found his range with his next attempt on goal, a penalty with 10 minutes to play that gave the hosts a single point lead and ensured a tense finale.

And they sealed their ticket to the last four when Doussin sent a clever kick into space behind the Warriors defence, and Niniashvili capped a man-of-the-match performance when he bagged his second score of the match and left Warriors with too much to do.

Scotland A versus Chile match confirmed

Super6 Sprint: Stirling County’s Logan Trotter keeps his eye on the prize

Glasgow Warriors hand professional contracts to four academy graduates

Teams –

Lyon: T Arnold; J Tuisova, P Barassi, C Ngatai, D Niniashvili; L Berdeu, B Couilloud; S Taofifenua, Y Charcosset, D Bamba, F Lambey, R Taofifenua, D Cretin, B Saginadze, P Sobela©.  Substitutes: M Ivaldi, V Devisme, H Kaabèche, T Mayanavanua, L Goujon, J Doussain, J Kpoku, X Mignot.

Glasgow Warriors: O Smith; J McKay, S Tuipulotu, S Johnson, C Forbes; R Thompson, A Price; J Bhatti, J Matthews, Z Fagerson, R Harley, R Gray, R Wilson©, A Miller, J Dempsey.  Substitutes: G Turner, N McBeth, S Berghan, L Bean, K McDonald, G Brown, J Dobie, D Miotti.

Referee: M Carley (RFU) .

Scorers –  

Lyon: Tries – Couilloud, Taofifenua, Niniashvili 2, Cons – Berdeu 2, Doussin Pens – Berdeu 3

Glasgow Warriors: Tries – McKay, Forbes, Penalty; Cons – Thompson 2: Pens – Thompson 2 .

Scoring sequence (Lyon first): 3-0, 3-5, 3-7, 6-7, 6-10, 6-13, 11-13, 13-13, 13-18, 13-20 (h-t) 13-27, 18-27, 20-27, 25-27, 28-27, 33-27, 35-27.  

Yellow cards: Berdeu (Lyon), Bhatti (Glasgow)

Man-of-the-match: Warriors were well served by Josh McKay, Sam Johnson and Johnny Matthews, but on the basis of his match-winning contribution, the award went to teenage Lyon winger Davit Niniashvili.   

Talking point: So near and yet so far for the two Scottish representatives on the European stage.

  • The Offside Line’s coverage of Glasgow Warriors is powered by McCrea Financial Services.
  • McCrea Financial Services sponsor Glasgow Warriors and provide a wide range of financial advisory services including mortgage, pension and retirement planning advice. See to contact them for more information.

Glasgow Warriors hand professional contracts to four academy graduates


About Colin Renton 288 Articles
Colin has been a freelance writer on various subjects for more than 20 years. He covers rugby at all levels but is particularly passionate about the game at grass roots. As a fluent French speaker, he has a keen interest in rugby in France and for many years has reported on the careers of Scots who have moved across the Channel. He appreciates high quality, engaging writing that is thought provoking, and hopes that some of his work fits that bill!


  1. Totally off subject but room for an investigation by this site – why do so many of Scotland’s most talented players play so much better for their Clubs than for Scotland?
    Fascinating – watching Finn play for Racing – he’s having a blinder. with Racing he’s allowed to play his own game and consistently plays really good rugby. For scotland his hands are tied and he is nothing like the same player – why are we wasting amazing talent by micro managing them?

    • RodB,
      Quite simply poor management. You don’t go from the “fastest rugby in the world” to a risk averse conservative style….. a 360d change…… too many excuses, inexplicable situations/decisions/plays from Stuart Hogg, the ongoing Finn Russell debacle shows there is something wrong /afoot

      • John M
        Hoggies problem is he takes the world on his shoulders and as Captain if things aren’t going well, he thinks he has to do something to win the game on his own. he just takes on all the pressure and tries too hard. I don’t think the captaincy suits him. Again with Exeter he is a totally different player, no captaincy less pressure a much better player. 2 players Finn and Hoggy who are World class but rarely achieve that standard for Scotland and of late never achieve it.

      • 100% agree RodB, Hogg is magnificent but (as at Exeter) needs to play a team game rather then win the game himself. Teams have sussed Scotland out – short kicks (bringing Hogg into traffic and away from open prairie) don’t give Russell any space.
        Opportunities become less frequent and more pressure is on to convert those Opportunities. The fleeting appearance at 12 by Cam Redpath showed what can be achieved by having a 2nd 5/8…….

  2. Off topic i know but WHAT A TRY by scottish qualified Henry Arundell. I’d offer him guaranteed test match ruhby in Argentina this summer

  3. There’s undoubtedly question marks over current coaching team -however a major factor being overlooked in relation to a ‘fall off’ in the last 20 mins is surely what you have on the bench. Scottish teams simply not in same league as French English or Irish in terms of budgets. The reality is Scottish, Welsh and Italian teams are becoming cannon fodder. I would argue the game needs to seriously reconsider the number of subs allowed and/or consider financial fair play.

  4. I think the fact Glasgow keep getting themselves in winning positions in their big games shows they have the talent to be competitive. But the fact they are almost certain to suffer a second half collapse and hand victory to their opponents shows they are poorly coached, conditioned and in desperate need of a renewal in culture and mindset. The SRU needs to act and Wilson needs to go, it’s clear now he isn’t going to get Glasgow back to being truly competitive.

  5. Yet again 27 – 13 up , playing really well for a scratch team and then we hit the wall in the last 20. Like we have done all season long. I’m not even sure why we do , was it Wilson going off?. We have always had periods in a game where we switched off but it is now costing us games we should be winning. Now we have an away game against either Munster or worse Leinster to save the season.

  6. Agree with Ross K, ultimately very frustrating but initially an excellent performance by Glasgow, McKay, Johnson , Thompson and Bhatti very impressive as Glasgow forced Lyon into mistakes and exasperation. Previous memories/experience stopped me hoping when Lyon went down a man (with Glasgow 14 points up), Ross K eloquently explain what happened next, are Glasgow physically or mentally not fit enough? Simply not good enough? Poorly managed? Whatever it is both scottish teams out

      • Hi JW, insightful question. Glasgow were in a position to win the game, Lyon were clearly getting frustrated and were making unforced errors 13-27 up, a man up, 20m to go, losing from there is a recurring theme. Off course I’m going to concentrate on the Scottish team rather than the French team

  7. Sorry, we can barely compete in the second tier competition we were beyond poor in the first-tier competition. Collapsed once again in the last 20 minutes, are we unfit? – High balls and restarts hopeless and some say the coaching team did better??? better than what??…. oh why oh why don’t we get a new coaching team.. If I were Dempsey I’d be off like a shot this Summer.

  8. Agree with Ross on this one. Firstly what a performance, stand up Sam Johnston, Ali Price, Josh McKay and Jamie Bhatti who obviously had raw meat in his play peace before the match. After 50 mins we are 14 points and a man up, then we can’t again, for the 5 billionth time this season, deal with a restart……aarrgghh. As a result we lose a man then two tries in quick succession. Thereafter we fail to catch high balls and have poor game management and as such manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of one of our best ever European results. I’m not sure what begat such a decent performance, the players seemed to front up incredibly well give the powder puff performance in South Africa immediately beforehand. I’m not sure if this was a collective effort or whether the scrambling defence and doggedness was a result of coaching. Having been (quite rightly in my opinion) a harsh critic of Danny Wilson, he and his team deserve a pat on the back if this is down to them, but why oh why can’t they coach set play restarts. Overall a mixture of pride and disappointment. This is one that got away. Teams we aspire to challenge don’t throw games from a winning position as we did tonight and have done too often throughout this season. Gutted.

  9. For 55 minutes I thought Glasgow were going to put together one of their finest ever wins and then it all fell apart. Full credit to the players who played with great spirit and intensity with a lot of good defensive work and some good tries. The frustrating thing was the way they conceded points so easily in the last quarter. Lyon started kicking the ball up in the air and we completely failed to deal with the high kicks. Ellie Smith was posted missing on several occasions and the ball was allowed to bounce and they either regained it or we nocked on. This completely changed the flow of the game and having had a 14 point lead we capitulated. I know Glasgow were nowhere near full strength but good sides manage a 14 point lead and don’t throw it away.


Comments are closed.