Glasgow Warriors 21
FRUSTRATION in the South of France for Warriors as they pushed Montpellier all the way but paid a heavy price for some dreadfully poor discipline, and not for the first time this season.
The visitors did enough to pick-up a win which would have teed-up a Challenge Cup quarter-final clash at home against either Agen or Benetton next weekend, but now they have a fortnight to rest, re-energise and re-focus ahead of the start of the Rainbow Cup on the weekend of 24th April instead.
Warriors actually conceded four less penalties than Montpellier over the course of the game, but 14 is still crippling to any team wanting to build momentum, and with the visitors having coughed up too fairly soft tries just before and just after the break, it certainly did not work in their favour that the game was so stop-start.
To compound the situation, a red-card for flanker TJ Ioane – two minutes after coming off the bench – for dangerous play, and yellow-card for centre Nick Grigg for a deliberate knock-on, left Warriors with 13 men as they tried to chase the game at the end.
It is clearly a growing frustration to head coach Danny Wilson that his team constantly leave themselves fighting battles with one hand tied behind their back.
“It’s the pattern that is haunting us at the moment, isn’t it? Our discipline is just not good enough,” he said. “We’ve approached a number of tactics to address that. We’ve gone through specific incidents, we’ve gone through all the penalties in a game, we’ve gone through not picking players who have shown poor discipline …
“It has to improve dramatically because we can’t be playing big games like this and giving away the number of penalties and cards that we did tonight.
“The red card killed us, we also gave away a very soft try from an individual defensive error which cost us, our exits were poor and our kicking game generally wasn’t good enough. When we got tempo into the game, we played some nice rugby and showed the threat we can be, but ultimately not enough to get over the line.
“We showed plenty of fight, we got ourselves back to within a score and the chance to go on for a win, so I certainly think we’ll look back and say it is a game we should have won. It was a very frustrating night.”
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There was no lack of attacking intent during the first half, but the high penalty count and lots of handling errors meant it was pretty scrappy stuff. Warriors edged into a narrow lead on three separate occasions during that period through Adam Hastings penalties, but Montpellier kept in touch with two penalties of their own kicked by Alex Lozowski.
Then, just before half-time, a penalty against Lee Jones for holding onto the ball in the deck allowed Montpellier to go to the corner, and home skipper Guilhem Guirado burst from the line-out maul to snatch the opening try on the stroke of half-time.
It was a bad time to concede seven points, and Warriors further damaged their cause with yet another penalty in the first minute of the second-half, this time against Tom Gordon for taking out Cobus Reinach as he tried to get the ball away from the back of a ruck, which gave Montpellier the field position for their second try inside the space of five minutes.
Some slick hands from Montpellier sucked Rufus McLean in, which allowed winger Vincent Rattez to escape down the left touchline before feeding the pass back inside to try scorer Anthony Bouthier.
Warriors captain Fraser Brown appeared to pull his team back into the match when he powered over from a quick tap-penalty, but the video replay showed he had lost control of the ball as he stretched for the line. Montpellier second-row Bastien Chalureau was then yellow-carded for tackling Brown without retreating 10 and Warriors were awarded another penalty, but you have to wonder why a penalty try wasn’t in order.
Warriors did narrow the gap to eight points with a fourth Hastings penalty of the night a few minutes later, but then they suffered that major setback when Iaone was shown red when his shoulder made contact with a Montpellier head in a tackle.
Lozowski kicked the penalty to make it 23-15, and while Warriors kept plugging away they couldn’t close the gap.
Hastings kicked his fifth penalty of the match, and his replacement Ross Thompson added two to keep them in touch, but Lozowski’s fourth penalty of the night was enough to see the hosts home for the win.
Warriors were boosted during that finale when Montpellier replacement Martin Devergie saw yellow for a dangerous tackle on George Turner with eight minutes to go, but three minutes later Grigg was also sent to the naughty step making it 14 versus 13 for the final five minutes.
Montpellier: A Bouthier; J Goosen, A Vincent, J Serfontein (Y Reilhac 40), V Rattez,; A Lozowski, C Reinach; E Forletta, G Guirado (B Du Plessis 58), M Haouas (T Lamositele 54), F Verhaeghe (M Devergie 70), B Chalureau, N Janse van Rensburg, Y Camara, A Becognee.
Glasgow Warriors: H Jones (N Matawalu 25); R McLean, N Grigg, S Johnson, L Jones; A Hastings (R Thompson 68), A Price (G Horne 60); O Kebble (D Evans 74), F Brown (G Turner 56), Z Fagerson (E Pieretto 68), R Gray, R Harley (L Nakarawa 74), F Lokotui (T Ioane 56), T Gordon, R Wilson.
Montpellier: Tries: Guirado, Bouthier; Con: Lazowski 2; Pen: Lazowski 4.
Glasgow Warriors: Pen: Hastings 5, Thompson 2.
Scoring sequence (Montpellier first): 0-3; 3-3; 3-6; 6-6; 6-9; 11-9; 13-9 (h-t) 18-9; 20-9; 20-12; 23-12; 23-15; 23-18; 26-18, 26-21;
Yellow cards –
Montpellier: Chalureau (50mins), Devergie (72mins)
Edinburgh: Grigg (76mins)
Red cards –
Edinburgh: Ioane (59mins)