Stormers v Glasgow: Warriors succumb again to second-half slump syndrome

Defeat in Cape Town leaves Scots side with a tough fight to claim top-four place in URC

Jack Dempsey. Image: © Craig Watson -
Jack Dempsey will start for Glasgow against Ulster. Image: © Craig Watson.

Stormers 32

Glasgow Warriors 7

AFTER a promising start which saw them take the lead midway through the first half, Glasgow fell victim to a familiar failing at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town. Not for the first time this season, they were simply unable to summon up the mental energy to stay the pace against talented opponents. As a result, their hopes of a home quarter-final in the URC play-offs are now in serious doubt.

With two games of the regular season to go – away to the Bulls and then Edinburgh – Danny Wilson’s side may need points from both if they are to end up in the league’s leading quartet and thus have a home quarter-final. If they finish in fifth to eighth place they will be on the road in the last eight, which could mean a return to South Africa. And that, on the evidence of this game, is something they will very much want to avoid.

“We need to go and take points now from the Bulls game,” Wilson said. “We’ve been top four all season and knew that these last three games were going to be huge.”

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Kyle Steyn left the field early with an achilles injury, while Sam Johnson damaged an ankle in the second half. It is not yet known how bad either injury is, but, while the loss of those two backs did not help the Warriors’ cause, Wilson did not try to make excuses after another match in which his team faded badly.

“It’s a common theme,” the head coach added. “We struggled with a little bit of adversity and made too many errors – that’s the cycle that we now need to break. We’ve been good for 40 minutes in most games; second halves haven’t been as good. It is definitely something that we need to look at.”

They need to do more than look at it: they need to solve it if they are to become serious contenders for honours either in the league or in the Challenge Cup, where they face a demanding quarter-final away to Lyon.

The slow collapse here was all the more disappointing given the enterprising nature of their play in the first quarter, which saw Glasgow open the scoring after Ross Thompson sent a penalty to touch. Their maul went nowhere, but the ball came back inside, and, after Rory Darge was held up on the line, Jack Dempsey forced his way over from a metre out.

The Stormers looked stunned by that reverse for a time, but eventually got off the mark thanks to a flying tackle from Rikus Pretorius on Thompson. The Glasgow stand-off was penalised for holding on, and Manie Libbok was on target this time from 35 metres out.

It was a score that energised the South Africans, who took the lead on their next attack. A line0out maul gained good ground, then full-back Damian Willemse drifted across field from the left wing before putting Pretorius through with a smartly-timed pass.    

Libbok converted, then added a penalty in the closing minute of the half after Johnson had strayed offside. It was a disappointing end to the first 40 for Glasgow given how well they had played in the first 20, but in truth they were lucky to be only 13-7 adrift, as Libbok had knocked-on close to the line just before his penalty.


With Warrick Gelant on at full-back and controlling play with some expertly-judged kicks, the momentum was still with the home side in the early stages of the second half. They had to wait patiently all the same for further scores, but then two came in quick succession to put the game beyond the visitors.

Scrum-half Herschel Jantjies got the first of them, finishing off a counter-attack in which openside Hacjivah Dayimani sliced through the Glasgow defence with embarrassing ease. Dayimani was involved in the second try as well, providing the link between Gelant and winger Leolin Zas, who touched down on the left. With Libbok converting the second try, that put the Stormers 18 points ahead.  

Ollie Smith stopped the deficit from growing further with a try-saving tackle on Jantjies, but that was an isolated positive moment as the Warriors lost their shape and their composure. Things got worse for them when Josh McKay was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Ruan Nel, and after that the hope of claiming a losing bonus point was gone, to be replaced by damage limitation.

The Stormers had a bonus point of their own to chase, and they got it with seconds to spare when Evan Roos weaved his way through three defenders to touch down on the left. Libbok’s conversion ended the match.


Teams –

Stormers: D Willemse; S Senatla (B Dixon 72), R Nel, R Pretorius (W Gelant 41), L Zas; M Libbok, H Jantjies (P de Wet 69); S Kitshoff (capt, A Vermaak 63), S Ntubeni (J Kotze 50), F Malherbe (B Harris 63), A Smith (S Moerat 55), M Orie, J Pokomela (N Xaba 64), H Dayimani, E Roos. 

Glasgow Warriors: O Smith; J McKay, S Tuipulotu, S Johnson (J Dobie 60), K Steyn (C Forbes 16); R Thompson (D Weir 63), A Price (capt); O Kebble (J Bhatti 49), J Matthews (G Turner 58), Z Fagerson (S Berghan 65), R Gray, K McDonald (R Harley 48), A Miller, R Darge (T Gordon 78), J Dempsey. 

Referee: A Brace (Ireland).


Scorers –

Stormers: Tries: Pretorius, Jantjies, Zas, Roos. Cons: Libbok 3. Pens: Libbok 2.

Glasgow: Try: Dempsey. Con: Thompson. 

Scoring sequence (Stormers first): 0-5, 0-7, 3-7, 8-7, 10-7, 13-7 half-time, 18-7, 20-7, 25-7, 30-7, 32-7.


Yellow card –

Glasgow: McKay (68 mins).


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About Stuart Bathgate 1431 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. I think losing Steyn early and not having McLean or the Argentine wing results in us not having much cutting edge in the Back-Three. Forbes is a solid all rounder, and Smith/McKay together feels a bit lightweight in terms of offering a hard carrier to open space for others, despite them individually being good attackers.

    We had 3 Full-Backs playing for most of the game.

    Avoid playing Smith/McKay together. And if Steyn is unavailable then Walter Fifita would surely be a decent option.

  2. Just viewed the stats from the game – a few interesting ones. Glasgow conceded 17 penalties v 8 against the Stormers. And perhaps most staggering – not a single line break from Glasgow – shows the lack of cutting edge in the backs.

    • Mathews made an excellent line break. Backs didn’t, but had mostly poor ball all game. The pack were not delivering quick ball or able to stop Stormers getting at Price and Thomson, man and ball too often

  3. Disappointing performance. Its not just about 2nd half syndrome – its about whole game syndrome. We were never going to win that game and although we managed to get in front early on, Stormers were far superior particularly in the backs. They have got some class players with real pace and our backs look pedestrian by comparison. We need to limit the mistakes in these key games and we cant – started with Thompson kicking straight into touch from kick off and we survived for 15 minutes without getting back in their half. Remarkably Darge still stood out at the breakdown but not many others I can think of who excelled. Our backs have lost their edge – although they looked good for a while last week against a classy side like Stormers they simply don’t create anything. Stormers defence stifled them with ease. A couple of the Stormers tries whilst well created were poor from a Glasgow point of view. The first try when Willemse was allowed to stop and jog across the backline without any pressure on him was poor. Their 2nd try was worse – a poor kick from Smith and then an almost unopposed return from Stormers was shocking defending. Stormers simply too good and I cant hold out much hope of a win against Bulls next week. Looking like an away quarter final and probably no more.

  4. Oh dear, here we go again. Coach Wilson has once more spotted that Warriors fall away in the second half – just a pity that it’s taken him so long to see the obvious. At least he’s got two league and a Challenge cup game to get it right. I’ve made the observation before that this is not restricted to away games but we’ve got away with it at home. Heck, he took comfort from us actually winning the second half in our last home game – by 5 points against the bottom club Zebre. Doesn’t give me much confidence going into these next crucial games.
    Can I make a suggestion – leave the team out on the park at half time, because whatever is said in the changing room at halftime is having a negative impact on the players.

    • Really surprised to hear Wilson say this is something they need to look at. Why hasn’t he looked at it already and developed a plan to fix it? The fans have been on his case about it since the bad loss away to Exeter.

      If Johnson and Steyn are out for an extended period on top of the other injuries in the team then I worry about if we will win again this season.

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