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.
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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.
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
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.