Perpignan v Glasgow: Warriors book their place in Challenge Cup round of 16

Despite picking-up three yellow cards, Franco Smith's side secure a comprehensive win in South of France

Stafford McDowall led Glasgow Warriors to victory over Perpignan. Image: © Craig Watson
Stafford McDowall led Glasgow Warriors to victory over Perpignan. Image: © Craig Watson

USA Perpignan 26

Glasgow Warriors 40

COLIN RENTON @ Stade Aime Giral

GLASGOW WARRIORS secured a spot in the knockout phase of the European Challenge Cup with a six try victory over a dogged Perpignan side that will take pride and some optimism from their efforts. The identity of the opposition the Scottish side will face in the last 16, and the venue of the match, will depend on Friday’s match against Bath, with a win in that encounter ensuring a home tie for Warriors.   

While happy with the outcome, Warriors coach Franco Smith was disappointed in some aspects of the performance.

“I’m satisfied with the win. It’s important to win away from home. Glasgow for the last year has always suffered away from home,” he said. “I’m obviously disappointed with the three yellow cards and we ended up playing two-thirds of the game with 14 men.

This weekend’s Premiership results:

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“I think we scored some good tries when we were 15 on the field. Unfortunately we were the architects of our own demise,” he added.

Smith also praised the opposition for their contribution to a high scoring affair that featured some excellent rugby from both sides.

Perpignan have been a yo-yo club in recent years and currently sit in the basement slot of the French Top 14 after last week’s defeat against Clermont. That result sparked a turbulent few days which featured a clamour in some quarters for the coaches to be sacked. A group of senior players visited club owners asking for mercy, and the response was confirmation that the coaching team will remain in place.

To make matters worse, the hosts were without captain Mathieu Acebes, who was handed a nine-week ban earlier in the week for headbutting an opponent during the recent defeat against La Rochelle. The leadership role was handed to scrum half Tom Ecochard, whose task was to spearhead a performance in which the priority was cohesion and endeavour rather than the result.

However, any notion that they would be a pushover was quickly dispelled. Warriors suffered an early blow when Ollie Smith was yellow-carded for a high tackle on Boris Goutard. The ensuing penalty was banged into touch and a couple of phases later Matteo Rodor sent a perfectly judged cross-kick into the hands of Eddie Sawailau and the winger dotted down in the corner for an unconverted score.

Within five minutes, Warriors were ahead. A penalty sent to touch near the line provided the platform for Sam Johnson to carve through the home defence and mark his return from injury with a try which Domingo Miotti converted shortly before being replaced by Duncan Weir.

The hosts struck again in 12 minutes when Nino Seguela took an inside pass and kicked ahead then just pipped Josh McKay in the race to the line.


Again, Warriors wasted no time in responding. A powerful Johnny Matthews run carried play deep into opposition territory and the ball was worked wide to Smith, who atoned for his earlier misdemeanour by taking play to within striking distance, where Richie Gray was on hand to complete the job. Weir added the extras for a two point lead.

The advantage grew on 23 minutes when another penalty to touch allowed a powerful surge. Jack Dempsey was held just short but Jamie Dobie flipped the ball to Stafford McDowall who dotted down between the sticks to leave Weir a simple conversion.

The bonus point score came after half an hour. The hosts overthrew at a line-out and the ball was poached by the alert Johnny Matthews who bounced off two defenders on his way to the line, with Weir again converting.

Warriors restarted solidly but a wave of Perpignan changes brought new momentum for the hosts. Thomas Gordon was shown a yellow-card for a dangerous tackle and during his absence Perpignan grabbed a lifeline when Posolo Tuilagi smuggled the ball to Roder, who touched down then banged over the conversion.

That was as close as they would get, and Smith showed an impressive turn of pace to race down the wing to bag try number five. And a minute later, Josh McKay profited from being left unmarked as he raced over in the opposite corner.

However, Perpignan had the final word with a converted score for Posolo Tuilagi that yielded a bonus point and will give the Catalans heart for the test that lies ahead.


Teams – 

Perpignan: B Goutard: N Seguela (K Desrues 70), A Taumoepeau, P Fernandez, E Sawailau (L Pichon 40); M Rodor, T Ecochard (c); X Chiocci (G Tetrasshvili 48), V Montgaillard (M Tadjer 48), A Fakatika (V Jincharadze 48), B Chinarro (P Tuilagi 48) A Mahu (A Bouthier 70), T Ramasibana, E Bertheau, V Moro.

Glasgow Warriors: J McKay; C Forbes, S McDowall (c), S Johnson (S Kennedy 42-53), O Smith; D Miotti (D Weir 11), J Dobie (S Kennedy 67); N McBeth, J Matthews (A Fraser 62), L Sordoni (S Berghan 48), JP du Preez, R Gray (A Samuel 62), E Ferrie, C Neild (T Gordon 48), J Dempsey.

Referee: Craig Evans


Scorers –

Perpignan: Tries: Sawailau, Seguela, Rodor, Tuilagi; Cons: Rodor 3.

Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Johnson, Gray, McDowall, Matthews, Smith, McKay; Cons: Miotti, Weir 4.

Scoring sequence (Perpignan first): 5-0; 5-5; 5-7; 10-7; 12-7; 12-12; 12-14; 12-19; 12-21; 12-26; 12-28 (h-t) 17-28; 19-28; 19-33; 19-38; 19-40.


Yellow cards –

Glasgow Warriors: Smith (2mins), Gordon (48mins), Forbes (68mins).


Man-of-the-Match: Glasgow Warriors Johnny Matthews was at his belligerent best and capped an excellent performance with the bonus point try.

Talking point: Warriors made life difficult with three yellow cards, but there is clearly great belief coursing through the squad and there appears to be no reason why they can’t challenge for honours on two fronts.

Premiership: Corstorphine Cougars book their place in final with win over Watsonians

About Colin Renton 286 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. Must admit that I wasn’t entirely blown away with the appointment of Franco Smith, but full credit to him for the way he’s building a squad capable of challenging for top 4 and in Europe. Like the way he talks about the development of the squad, not just the team.
    Credit also to Danny Wilson and his recruitment of the players before he left, although whether he could get the performances from them that Franco Smith has achieved is still debatable.
    Main worry now is that if rumours of GT going to France after the World Cup come to pass Murrayfield see Franco Smith as a (cheap?) replacement and Warriors are stuffed once again.

  2. Based on the last 2 games alone Glasgow have an embarrassment of riches currently available at centre. There’s going to be a lot of competition for places as the season progresses. Also some difficult decisions ahead for the Scotland selectors.

  3. Just watched the highlights a couple of times. What was very good away win, was made more valuable in that USAP did not roll over but played well. It was good that we came back from being behind twice, and managed a fine away win and 5 points. Good to see Johnson back to his best , he has almost been a forgotten man with his injury, and Mathews seems back to where he was last year, well worth his MOM. The Grey with Du Preeze giant combo went well. The backs with Weir went well also. We managed 6 tries all of them very good and Mathews try was great. Only problem 3 yellow’s against a top team could be trouble. We certainly are on a roll t the moment and look a good side that is gelling and getting better, with a big pool of guys all playing well. Roll on next weekend.

  4. Just watched the extended highlights- R.Gray seemed phenomenal again, it’s quite nice to sit and watch a scottish team get the basics right, when you do that everything else is much easier. Smith and McKay tries lovely back play. Matthews often seems to be the best hooker in Scotland.
    Nice to see Sam Johnston back he’s almost Maitland esque in the quiet efficient way he goes about his game.
    5 points in France is a splendid outcome

  5. Expectations have definitely been raised when the coach is disappointed with a bonus point win away in France. Hats off to the coach for the improvements made though!

  6. Far from the perfect performance, discipline not where it should be as better opposition would have made that count for more – but hey…. It’s another away win, an away win in France at that (regardless of Perpignan’s circumstances) is always good, and six tries from a good mix with new captain on the night, lots of returnees from injury, and those needing game time. Shame Miotti went off injured as would liked to have seen him get a full 80 with Dobie. Franco really has the whole squad focussed. What not to like! Especially when you consider the depths we had reached last season. Roll on next Friday v Bath – a win ensuring a home 1/4.

  7. A win against Bath might secure a home tie for Warriors, but it’s certainly not guaranteed, and probably unlikely.

    • I stand corrected, not guaranteed, but as the top 4 from each group secure home games for last 16 they are in with a good shout, Cardiff away to Bruce next week might be the game that helps….

    • I stand corrected, not guaranteed, but as the top 4 from each group secure home games for last 16 they are in with a good shout, Cardiff away to Brive next week might be the game that helps….

    • I’d be curious to know from the people voting this comment down, why they are doing so. Unlike the article, it is factually accurate on this point.

    • AI is correct we have a poor points difference compared to the others and the way the group has developed there isn’t a great incentive for teams 6-10 and none of the top 5 play one another so all are likely to win leaving Glasgow 5th. So 4 wins unlikely to seal a home tie. Brive are fighting for survival in the Top 14 so unlikely to field anything close to their best team!

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