URC: Glasgow run in six tries to demolish Dragons and move up to second

Josh McKay and Stafford McDowall claimed two scores apiece

Stafford McDowall on his way to score against Dragons © Craig Watson

Glasgow 40

Dragons 7


THAT Franco Smith is a hard man to please was established long ago but even running in six tries to move up to second place in the United Rugby Championship table wasn’t enough to satisfy the Glasgow Warriors head coach.

A squad missing 11 players on Scotland duty with a further 10 on the treatment table made fairly light work of a similarly depleted Dragons squad at Scotstoun, scoring three tries in each half to claim a comprehensive bonus point home victory.

It was a special night for many in Glasgow colours as Jamie Bhatti made his 100th club appearance, Facundo Cordero and Ben Afshar marked first starts with a try apiece, while Ruaraidh Hart came off the bench late on for his debut.

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It would seem difficult to find much fault with any of that, especially seeing it took Dragons until the 65th minute before they breached the Warriors’ backline.

Smith, though, as befits his nature, wasn’t 100 percent satisfied, remarkably showing a slight irritation that Josh McKay had scored after just 30 seconds before Stafford McDowall ran in a second try less than three minutes later.

“I hate it when we score so early,” said Smith. “What usually happens is that the guys naturally switch off a little bit or they think it’s going to happen easy.”

But you scored again a few minutes later? “Even worse!

“From then on everyone was so eager and kicked it when we should have passed it and threw it when we should have kicked it. By half-time we made the same 10 errors that we normally make in a whole game. But, then again, we wanted energy, enthusiasm and for these guys to express themselves and they learned. And from that point we accomplished what we wanted.

“The players who were out there, very few of them had already played rugby this year. So the result was fantastic. And I told them that today we were going to talk about what happened, not what didn’t happen. There were a lot of opportunities left out there but the energy, enthusiasm and eagerness were unbelievable.”

Glasgow looked like they could run up a cricket score when McKay and McDowall crossed so early on but Dragons regrouped after that early wobble and it took Warriors until late in the half before they found a third try, again through McKay after good work by McDowall.

There was a special moment for Afshar as he rounded off a great team counter-attack early in the second half for his first-ever try to make sure of the bonus point.



Dragons belatedly got on the board though Will Reed but it was the home side that finished on top, Duncan Weir whipping a pass wide to Cordero to land his first try for the club before McDowall eased over for Glasgow’s sixth score of the night.

The bonus-point victory saw Glasgow move up to second spot in the URC, tucked in just behind Leinster, although Smith was not concerning himself too much with that at this stage.

“I don’t look at the table much as I know how easily it can change and what’s still ahead,” he added. “For the hard work that everyone around the team puts in here that is a compliment. But we know that there is a lot of rugby still to be played and we have to build on what we’ve currently established.”

The head coach was less loquacious on reports that Adam Hastings could be on his way back to Scotstoun this summer. So what can he tell us on that?

“Currently I can tell you nothing. But he’s a very good player.”


Teams –

Glasgow Warriors: J McKay, F Cordero, S McDowall (capt), T Jordan, J Dobie, R Thompson (D Weir 59), B Afshar (S Kennedy 62); J Bhatti (N McBeth 57), J Matthews (A Fraser 22-32, 76), L Sordoni (O Kebble 57), M Williamson (R Hart 76, A Samuel (S Manjezi 57), E Ferrie, T Gordon (G Hiddleston 63), H Venter

Dragons: C Evans (W Reed 17), J Rosser (J Westwood 60), S Hughes (capt), A Owen, O Andrew, A O’Brien, D Blacker (C Hope 61) ; R Jones (A Seiuli 46), J Benjamin, C Coleman (L Yendle 60), J Davies (B Langton 61), M Screech, S Lonsdale, G Young (B Coughlan 11), D Lydiate (S Scarfe 61)

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)


Scorers –

Glasgow: Tries: McKay 2, McDowall 2, Afshar, Cordero; Conversions: Thompson 4, Weir; Penalties: None

Dragons: Tries: Reed Conversions: O’Brien Penalties: None

Scoring sequence (Glasgow first): 5-0, 7-0, 12-0, 14-0, 19-0, 21-0, 26-0, 28-0, 28-5, 28-7, 33-7, 38-7, 40-7


Attendance: 7,260

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About Graeme Macpherson 44 Articles
Graeme Macpherson is a freelance sports writer who covers rugby for a number of outlets.


  1. a few posters noting the difference between the Glasgow game and the Edinburgh game, rightly so. Comments on the edin game show a tendency to say the Edin pack were good but backs, half backs especially poor and taking much flak
    The difference between the 2 games was the ball the half backs, then other backs got. The speed and accuracy of Glasgow’s recycling at rucks was on a different planet and that was the major difference.
    Forwards win matches, backs and half backs play with what they are given

  2. Yeah whilst Dragons were very poor it was great to see so many young Scots players A being picked and B performing so well. All the forwards looked totally at home and the 2nd rows showed real aggression which was brill to see. Afshar is improving at a tremendous rate and is well ahead of Price. Jordan at centre was a revelation and a 2nd receiver option is great to have. McDowell as others stated was top class and Dragons had no idea how to deal with him. Yeah few times tries were missed due to over complicating things but great ambition shown throughout and the tries were a nod back to the days of Finn Niko and DTH. Hopefully the youngsters get more game time because the talent is there it just needs time on the park not the stands.

    • Agree. Afshar really is looking the part…needs to bulk a bit …but has the speed and top class delivery. Alternating between Afshar and Dobie surely the way forward for Glasgow and eventually Scotland. If McDowell doesnt get his chance now or soon then I don’t know when. I think international sides would struggle to deal with him.
      Thankfully, and finally, a young 2nd row..that show both ability and fight. Tired of watching years of our soft 2nd row players simply get bossed.

  3. People talking about bringing Hastings back – but what’s happened to Richie Simpson? At U20s he seemed to have a lot of quality and I think I saw he’s had a few injuries successively, maybe concussion issues. But if he’s back fit now and not getting near match-day squads even during this period, does that suggest he’s not making the grade? Or that’s he’s in the hinterland that quite a few of the promising younger pros find themselves in where getting pro game time is in short supply? Be interested to know if anyone has any insights there!

    • He was still injured to my knowledge. He will eventually get game time once fit i’m sure. Just maybe not this season which is his first in the pro set-up.

      Weir likely to be retired i would think after this season.

      Hastings and Jordan (soon to be qualified) will be in Scotland camp next season. There will be plenty of opportunity for Simpson next season, he will still only be 21.

  4. Great to see the youngsters performing but lets not get carried away. This was Dragons and a very poor Dragons at that. We left 5-6 additional tries out there, so lots of mistakes and final passes not being made or not sticking. The youngsters need more game time to ensure the mistakes don’t happen in the big games. So they must be part of the rotation policy not just 5-15 minutes off the bench. All credit to Franco for bringing them on. It bodes well for the future but only if they get game time to build their experience. Afshar looks like a future Scotland 9 in the making. If we bring in Hastings (who I think is a terrific 10) is that pushing Ross Thompson back once more? Does it show less commitment to our youngsters?

    • if Hastings returns it is not lessening commitment to anyone, it is increasing competition for places. Which is always a positive. And always pushes performance at Glasgow. Its the Glasgow way. The Edinburgh way is to say Glasgow have 2/3 very good players in that position, can we have one? No competition, complacency
      Assuming Hastings returns, can stay fit and regain his earlier career form.

  5. What no tries for Mathews, and playing the Dragons. Joking aside good win some well executed tries from the backs this time. McDowell was outstanding along with Jordan and McKay and Afshar looks better with each game he gets. In the forwards thought Venter and Gordon were excellent. We left a good few tries still out there mainly due to white line fever , Cordero being guilty a couple of times in not passing. That said the talent we now have in the backs is very impressive. I hope we pass on Hastings he has a poor injury history in my opinion.
    As for the Dragons well the Welsh commentator was talking about lack of funds in the WRU maybe it’s time to cut back from 4 to 2 teams and concentrate all your good eggs in two baskets that was a poor display from them.

  6. Super performance from a young Glasgow team. What a contrast with the Edinburgh game the night before with the ball being moved around at speed and endless line breaks and a few chances missed but great entertainment. I was impressed with Afshar who’s speed of service and length of pass gave Thompson so much time on the ball. So much slicker than watching Price the day before. Thomson was also the best Ive seen him for some time and the rest of the backs all good with Cordero looking good after finally making his debut. The forwards looked pretty solid and provided a good platform for the backs with quick ball presentation. They had to do a fair bit of defending as well so not all one way traffic. I always think Tom Gordon is such a good player who never lets you down on the few occasions he gets to start. Venter and the young 2nd rows all played well also showing Incredible depth from Glasgow.

  7. The energy from the whistle last night was exceptional…. Could/should have been 60 points, if they had just dialled it down 5% more of those pop passes would have stuck. McDowall was determined to make a point which he did resoundingly, great game, even watching him encourage young Afshar to get into the ruck when needed and not sit back. To think that he was almost out the door under Wilson, shows how good a man manager Franco is. The squad rotation and faith in the youngsters (they obviously work hard behind the scenes to integrate the young uns the confidence), Ferrie, Williamson, Samuel, Afshar all developing well.

    Can’t help draw comparisons with Edinburgh game previous night and some of the threads on this site – Edinburgh stacked with established pros with reputations really struggled to perform and lacked energy – yet some described this team as inexperienced and cobbled together with three scrummies and three hookers in the match day squad – well…. I know what I’d rather have!!!!

    • Agree regards Edinburgh. Glasgow are beginning to look a bit like Leinster. Ok it was the Dragons but what has impressed me is that no matter who Glasgow pick this season they fit into the team almost seamlessly. There was a sticky period at scrum half but they have stood by Afshar and they are reaping the rewards . I am an Edinburgh season ticket holder but I love that young guys are getting a chance and grabbing their opportunities with both hands for the Warriors. We have some decent kids at Edinburgh. After Friday night it’s maybe time one or two got their opportunity.

  8. Like FS says….soo many butchered opportunities…far from perfect ..yet great to watch the energy…waves and waves of attack.
    McDowell surely considered for match v England? Can’t be far from playing this 6N…
    Samuel looks a natural replacement for Gray in Scotland 2nd row.
    Dobie looks fit and sharp.

  9. For me, a very positive performance. Yes I know it was “only” the Dragons, and a poor Dragons team at that. And yes there were lots of errors and inaccuracies, but for a much changed team that hadn’t played for a while, and in difficult conditions, there was much to be happy about. I’ve commented before that I see Tom Jordan more as a twelve than a ten, so I loved watching his combination with Ross Thompson and Staff McDowall, they totally bossed the game. Afshar looked sharp, McKay was outstanding as usual, Williamson and Samuel were rock solid, Tom Gordon was everywhere and Venter looked class. I would love to see Glasgow sign another ten for next season as competition for Thompson (Hastings would be great). This would allow Jordan to concentrate on being part of a top class quartet of centres with McDowall, Tuipolotu and Jones which would enable rotation and cover for injury and international call ups without any noticeable drop in quality. Jordan’s ability to cover 10 from the bench would be a bonus. Overall, well done Warriors, true depth of squad is developing like never before.


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