Stirling Wolves 34
Glasgow Warriors A 31
GAVIN HARPER @ Bridgehaugh
STIRLING WOLVES centre Marcus Holden helped himself to 19 points as his team held off a late Glasgow Warriors fightback to secure their second successive home win of the Super Series Sprint.
The home side appeared to have victory wrapped up as they took a 34-19 lead into the final quarter, but three Glasgow tries in 10 minutes – including two from replacement hooker Angus Fraser – set up a grandstand finale.
However, the home side held on, much to the delight of head coach Eddie Pollock. “In that first hour we played some great rugby – some of it was right out the top drawer and I can’t fault the players,” he said. “We had all our subs on with 20 minutes to go. We’ve been working hard on our fitness, but we need to work harder because in the last 10 minutes we were out on our feet. But, we found a way to win.”
Meanwhile, Glasgow Warriors A head coach Pete Horne brushed off the defeat to stress that playing in the first three rounds of the Super Series Sprint had provided a useful opportunity for the professional side. “We were really proud of the second half performance,” he said. “A lot of young fellas played really well.
“First half we coughed up too much ball, made some mistakes and turned the ball over. There was some decent stuff in the first half, but we created a lot.
“It’s been great just to give boys game-time. We’ve had young boys coming in like Amino Bogidrau who’s in our junior academy and he’s played a fair bit. It’s given us a chance to look at other guys too.”
The home side took the lead inside the first couple of minutes. Glasgow were penalised for holding on when trying to run out from deep, leaving Holden the straightforward task of opening the scoring.
The visitors enjoyed a spell in the Wolves 22 but the home defence remained resolute, and Wolves capitalised when No 8 Benedict Grant burst from a line-out. Several attempts later, there was space for Holden to cross.
The home side threatened again when a loose box-kick from Finlay Burgess allowed Korie Winters time to pick off the Warriors defence and chip ahead. Only the pace of Glasgow’s Argentinean full-back Facundo Cordero denied the Wolves winger.
Another chance fell the home team’s way when Stevie Hamilton gathered his own kick, but the winger went on his own when there were team-mates available and a try would surely have followed, and Warriors made him pay with a stunning score from Tom Gordon, whose power took him through the home defence before he chipped and backed his pace to score a terrific 80 metre try.
The visitors again had plenty of the ball, but couldn’t find a way through the Wolves defence and they were punished when, following a Holden turnover and a stunning break from Winters, former Scotland under-20 scrum-half Kyle McGhie went over in the corner.
Glasgow were again caught overplaying in their own 22 and when they shipped another breakdown penalty, the rampant Wolves made them pay as Holden powered through Bogidrau for his second try, which gave the hosts a 17-point lead at the break.
Stirling began the second half as they’d ended the first, and McGhie nearly got away for their bonus point score, only for Euan Ferrie‘s turnover to deny the former Musselburgh man.
The visitors struck back from the resulting penalty as McKnight broke up the touchline before a huge gap in the Wolves defence was capitalised upon by Gregor Hiddleston.
Winters threatened again, only to be denied once more by Cordero, but the home side’s fourth try wasn’t long in coming either, as Reyner Kennedy was driven over from a five-metre line-out to restore their cushion.
There was then a lengthy delay as medics attended to Winters, who was in considerable pain after injuring his leg in a tackle and left the field on a stretcher.
Indecision in the Glasgow backfield handed Wolves another chance as they failed to deal with Craig Jackson’s chip from a quickly taken line-out, and the stand-off dribbled the ball up the touchline to score in the corner.
Then the visitors launched their comeback as first Fraser snuck over from a maul before McKnight showed the home defence a clean pair of heels to go over. Christian Townsend‘s conversion cut the gap to just eight.
A turnover penalty won by Grant pinned Glasgow into their own 22 as the clock ticked into the red, but the hosts shipped a pair of penalties and allowed the Warriors territory and another ate try for Fraser. The professional outfit threatened to steal it, but Wolves held on to secure a victory they thought was in the bag with an hour gone.
Stirling Wolves: G Bryce; S Hamilton (F Callaghan 40), R Southern (C Jardine 29), M Holden, K Winters (E Davey 57); C Jackson, K McGhie; L Quarm (G Breese 50), R Kennedy © (S Rainey 60), M Tomasaitis (A Wood 60), H Ferguson, R Hart (J Pow 53), J Spurway (S MacDonald 50), C Gordon, B Grant.
Glasgow Warriors A: F Cordero; L Jarvie, B Salmon, A Bogidrau (E Ferrie 40) (H McLeod 78), R McKnight; C Townsend, F Burgess (S Kennedy 50); J Drummond, G Hiddleston, M Walker, M Williamson, A Samuel (A Smeaton72), A Miller ©, T Gordon, G Brown (A Fraser 45). Subs not used: M Ashdown, L Alessandri
Referee: D Sutherland
Stirling Wolves: Tries: Holden 2, McGhie, Kennedy, Jackson; Cons: Holden 3; Pen: Holden.
Glasgow Warriors A: Tries: Gordon, Hiddleston, Fraser 2, McKnight; Cons: Townsend 3.
Scoring sequence (Stirling Wolves first): 3-0; 8-0; 10-0; 10-5; 10-7; 15-7; 17-7; 22-7; 24-7 (h-t) 24-12; 24-14; 29-14; 34-14; 34-19; 34-24; 34-26.
Man-of-the-Match: Korie Winters was such a threat with ball in hand, while Benedict Grant and Connor Gordon were again at the heart of a terrific Wolves pack effort, but Marcus Holden pips them with his 19-point haul.
Talking point: Tom Gordon scored a stunning solo score, showing power to break the tackle before displaying great pace to finish. However, the Wolves’ effort finished by Kyle McGhie was every bit as good and was the beginning of the game getting away from the visitors.