Scarlets v Glasgow: Warriors wilt in face of fierce home fightback

Oli Kebble injury looks set to rule the prop out of Scotland's game against Italy

Duncan Weir
Duncan Weir scored a penalty and a conversion for Glasgow before Scarlets hit back to win with some ease. Image: Craig Watson -



A MATCH that began in promising fashion for Glasgow ended in them slumping to a heavy defeat as the Scarlets ran in five unanswered tries. The Warriors appeared to be on course to extend their winning run in the URC to six games at Parc y Scarlets as they held a 10-point lead with minutes to play in the first half, but a full score before the break breathed new hope into the home team, and once they got in front early in the second half there was no stopping them.

To make matters worse, Scotland prop Oli Kebble lasted only 10 minutes before being taken off with an injury which looks like ruling him out of  this week’s trip to Italy. “He’s got a nasty head knock – looks like a broken nose and a concussion,” Glasgow coach Danny Wilson said.

Another national front-row player, Javan Sebastian, pulled out of the Scarlets line-up before kick-off, but no immediate explanation was given by the home team for the late change. And, on a bruising afternoon for the visitors, Ollie Smith and Cole Forbes were both injured late in the game, while Sam Johnson had to go back on despite having been taken off because of an illness which made him vomit on the field.

Wilson mentioned the injuries and illness in his post-match illness, but accepted that his team had simply not done enough to take control of the game when they were on top. “It was a second-half collapse,” he said. ” A mixture of poor execution from us and very good attack from the Scarlets – I don’t want to take anything away from them. And illness and injury – I had to make a whole host of changes.

“We thought we were in control of the game at half-time, but we didn’t get enough points for our pressure, then they scored just before half-time. There were huge momentum swings in the game. There was the lineout where we got done for an offence then they went down the other end and scored. I was a bit shocked at that one.

“Then there was the disallowed try for us” – when Jamie Dobie thought he had scored only for play to be pulled back for obstruction – “and they went down the other end and scored again. The replay probably showed that was a reasonable decision – if Ryan Wilson got in the way and the referee deemed that was the case, then we just have to get on with it.

“Then we were brutally dreadful after that. We had 14 turnovers in the second half versus three in the first half. So it was a second-half collapse from us, but we’ll bounce back pretty quickly from that. It’s out of character – we’ve played well recently and I didn’t really see that one coming, but we’ll patch ourselves up and go again.”

Surely no-one did see it coming during the first half-hour and more as the Warriors played calmly to frustrate their opponents. With around five minutes on the click, the visitors twice went for the corner from kickable penalties, and although the first drive came to naught, they executed their second chance perfectly. Johnson and Duncan Weir helped propel the pack over the line, hooker Johnny Matthews finished off, and Weir added the two points to get his team off to an ideal start.

Scarlets twice tried and failed to score from a similar move after they, too, sent penalties to touch. The Glasgow defence worked superbly to keep the home side out, but Kebble was injured in the process and had to go off, to be replaced by Murphy Walker.

There were few openings for either side in the quarter-hour that followed, but eventually Glasgow stretched their lead into double figures with a Weir penalty. The Warriors could have gone 13-0 ahead when awarded a penalty right in front of the posts. However, they again went for touch, and this time were penalised at the lineout before they could get their maul going.

Scarlets had been unable to do anything with their possessions up to that point, but that changed two minutes before the break. Gareth Davies made a half-break from midfield, and when he fed Steff Evans, the centre had the strength to get to the line as the defence tried to close in. Rhys Patchell converted, and a game that looked to be firmly in Glasgow’s grasp was back in the melting pot as the half-time whistle sounded.

Any thought that the home side might lose some momentum while they sat in the dressing room was soon dispelled when play resumed. A half-break by Dan Davies up the left wing was taken on by Evans, and he passed inside to put captain Scott Williams through for the team’s second score. Patchell added the conversion to put his side four points ahead.

Wilson made three changes to his pack in a bid to get back on top in the battle up front, but Scarlets were playing with increasing confidence and would have scored again only to be thwarted by a forward pass.

Then came the denial of Dobie’s score: a harsh call at a crucial moment. Scarlets sent the penalty to touch, and eventually Gareth Davies snaked his way over the line for his team’s third try. The scrum-half twice had chances to add to that score, but first he was pulled up for colliding with the referee, and then he was dispossessed on the Warriors line.

Scarlets were still full of confidence, though, and got the bonus-point try when Sione Kalamafoni just managed to touch down under heavy pressure from Smith. Evans converted this time, and the turnaround was complete. Ryan Conbeer added a fifth try in the dying minutes, with substitute Sam Costelow adding the extras this time.

Scorers – Scarlets: Tries: Evans, S Williams, G Davies, Kalamafoni, Conbeer. Cons: Patchell 3, Evans, Costelow.

Glasgow: Try: Matthews. Con: Weir. Pen: Weir.

Scoring sequence (Scarlets first): 0-5, 0-7, 0-10, 5-10, 7-10 half-time, 12-10, 14-10, 19-10, 21-10, 26-10, 28-10, 33-10, 35-10.

Scarlets: T Rogers; S Evans, J Williams (J Roberts 69), S Williams (captain), R Conbeer;  R Patchell (S Costelow 66), G Davies (D Blacker 71); S Thomas (K Mathias 48), D Hughes (M Jones 66), S Lee (H O’Connor 65), S Lousi, J Price (A Shingler 41), B Thomson (C Tuipulotu 66), D Davis, S Kalamafoni. 

Glasgow Warriors: O Smith; J McKay, K Steyn, S Johnson (S McDowall 61), C Forbes (J Lenac 71); D Weir (R Thompson 66), J Dobie; O Kebble (M Walker 10), J Matthews (F Brown 49), S Berghan (E McQuillin 74), K McDonald, R Harley (R Gray 49), R Wilson (captain), A Miller, J Dempsey (T Gordon 49). 

Referee: C Busby (Ireland).

About Stuart Bathgate 1430 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.


  1. as said no-one was catching Dobie. How many pull backs do we see ignored because the ref thinks it has no impactAnd Blade Thomson waived his arms about like a wounded drama queen, no materiality. Wilson put an arm out a bit and Blade Thomson waived his arms about like a wounded drama queen.
    Anyone who was at the Glasgow Munster game would have seen this in shedloads, and it wasn’t Ryan Wilson or anyone in Blue pulling back!

    But the failure to put more scores on the board first half, and the sucker try just before HT changed all momentum, although with hindsight it seems there were a few guys out there who were ill, and lacking energy or concentration as you might expect

  2. Clearly, Glasgow had to start players who were not fit to play due to illness, which could very well explain why they wilted as the game wore on. That being said, the Scarlets confidence grew as the second half developed and they seemed to try things they were too timid to attempt in the first half.
    Listening to the commentary, both before and after the decision was made, was the referee correct to penalise Wilson and disallow Glasgow’s try? It was seemingly for a combination of offside and blocking and I didn’t feel either was right. The commentators didn’t think so either.

  3. Playing ok, screw up an attacking line-out just before half time, they go down the other end and score. Come out after half time and they score again. Then we implode. This felt like a bad combination of the away game to Exeter and Scotland France from last weekend. Having said that Scarlets arent Exeter or France and I feel on this showing Glasgow will be very lucky to finish in the playoffs.

    11-15 this looked like a good Glasgow back line but the attack didnt really get going.

  4. No one but the Glasgow players will know how they performed so dismally in that second half last night. It was car crash TV and a truly dark day for an aspiring club. . Perhaps they took their inspiration from our national team, who are fast developing a reputation for being becoming second half folders. I was going to say that the one consolation was the continuing emergence of 21-year-old Ollie Smith at full back. And then he got carried off injured.

  5. Not sure there is much new to say about that performance, that I have not said before when Glasgow lose badly. I thought the game turned on the 2nd Glasgow try being disallowed, though to me it looked ok , there was no way Kalamafoni was going to catch Dobie irrespective of Wilson’s actions which were marginal at best. Hope Smith is OK.

  6. From the sublime to the ridiculous. Edinburgh were sublime on Friday night and Glasgow were ridiculously bad last night. I only saw the second half but it was one of the poorest displays I can remember from Glasgow in a long time. I know Scarlets are a better side than their league position shows but it was a capitulation down to a high error count and poor decision making. Most of the half involved Duncan Weir kicking the ball downfield back to Scarlets who then ran the ball back and retained possession. What is the point in that – OK you need to clear your lines from deep but Scarlets had decided they were going to hold on to the ball and they did it well and Glasgow never had the ball. Regards the Glasgow disallowed try – I thought it was dubious but another example of TMO’s looking for reasons not to give a try and then the ref feels obliged to agree. Glasgow have really lost their free flowing style of old. Even their last win against Benetton was turgid and so lets hope this was a one -off.

    A thought on the relative squad strengths between Glasgow and Edinburgh. It seems to me that Edinburgh have a much deeper pool in the forwards in particular when they can still put out a strong team and a 3rd choice back row that are highly competitive. The pendulum has definitely swung perhaps too far.

  7. I’ve unfortunately watched some abject performances from Glasgow over the years but that was right up there with the worst of them. Can’t believe that Harley and Wilson are still being wheeled out, they should have been retired 2 seasons ago.

  8. BBC report saying Dempsey, Johnson and Brown all had a bug and were vomiting. I wondered why Brown wasn’t on long before Mathews came back on, why Dempsey went off. and fair play to Johnson who played ages before being subbed and came back on after all the injuries

    Might explain some of the 2nd half collapse, but nit the failure to score more 1st half. Need different half backs, a stand off who challenges the line more

  9. agree about on field leadership. apart from the joint captains it os particulary annoying how litte Glasgow get from their most experienced players – Gray, Harley and Weir just doesn’t just not offer a running threat, he sits so deep he is on the practice pitch. Young Dobie isn’t living up to his early promise but Weir should be a far more effective game manager – not just sitting deep, crabbing and then passing to a player 20yds behind the gain line. Like a metronome

  10. BBC reporting 3 players left field with illness and we read above that Johnson vomited. I speculate that a tummy bug has been in the squad and a few players were feeling below par. That may be a factor in the collapse.

  11. I don’t think I have ever witnessed a more dispiriting Glasgow horror show than that. Uninspiring but in control of a disjointed turgid game Glasgow managed to transform Scarlets from an inept side lacking confidence into a rampaging Fiji all within 42 minutes. Where to start? Firstly we seem to lack any on field leadership, unless needlessly pulling back an opponent to get an otherwise perfectly good try chalked off and giving Scarlets a springboard to score counts as leadership. The service from the scrum and rucks was Greg Laidlaw slow and Duncan Weir spent the entire game providing no running threat and aimlessly hoofing possession away, to a team growing in confidence at running ball in hand. As has been the case over the past two seasons the backs seen to run across field from side to side until they run out of ideas or drop the ball. Worryingly, a bit like the national team, we seem to have a game plan and thereafter are straightjacketed into playing by numbers. There is no inventivenesses never mind the maverick genius of the past. More worryingly again we seem to fold and capitulate easily as we have done against Benetton, Exeter and now Scarlets. The days of feeling confident that Glasgow can pull any game back from anywhere have now we’ll and truly gone.
    Fair play to the Scarlets they grew in confidence, got the bounce of the ball and had the ref on their side, red card for jumping when tacked to batter Cole Forbes in the head anyone?
    Any positives? Jack Dempsey continues to carry and make big yards, it is no coincidence our decline gathered pace once he left the field. Ollie Smith and Josh McKay continue to be bright spots in a otherwise turgid back division.
    Who’s to blame? Let’s see now, last years excuse was covid disruption, what will this years going be Danny?

    • Think your overreacting tbh. Sometimes teams have a bad game, they won 5 in a row before this and the squad had been battling with Illness and are more heavily affected by international call-ups/injuries than Scarlets.

      This game is an outlier, if it becomes a pattern then criticism is fair,
      we don’t need to blame and think the club is spiralling downwards every-time there is a loss. I have seen big improvement from Danny Wilsons Glasgow side this season.

      • AngryGala – agree that everyone has an off day but I don’t think that this is a complete outlier. I’m sure that illness played a part, but there really has been a pattern of similar collapses this season that is very worrying. I agree with a lot of Balls Up’s points about leadership and decision making. It also looked as though the forwards just capitulated in the second half – there was nowhere near enough intensity, line speed and aggression. And to be rucked off our own ball as many times as that suggests to me that the pack needs to have a good look at themselves.
        I do think that the team are in a better place than last year though and have had a run of decent game up until last night.

      • Spot on! This team sit fourth in the league, they are no mugs. This result shows how difficult away games can be with travel, illness and the crowd on you backs. The game now is to bridge the gap to the three teams above who are a bit ahead of the rest. (Likewise, Edinburgh on the same points, in fifth, are nine ahead on the next team.) The 1872 will be a real contest and at the moment either team could win it on the day. Looking forward to the games already.

    • The Scarlets were “gone” in the 1st half, Glasgow were utterly dominant and should’ve been 20 points ahead, you could see why Glasgow went for the 7 points rather than for the 3 but take the points!!!!!!, the Scarlets 1st try changed momentum and after the break Wilson had a brain fart and thereafter Glasgow utterly collasped, Weir looked like he had his eyes closed when booting the ball long, this was absolutely perfect for the Scarlets and a heavy dispiriting defeat ensued. There were excuses from Wilson…….again. there are inexplicably poor games like this for Glasgow now, interesting why this is.

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