Glasgow Warriors 20
DHL Stormers 9
DAVID BARNES @ Scotstoun Stadium
IT was a game of two halves. The first was vaguely entertaining with three home tries, two visiting yellow-cards and plenty of intent. The second was a snore-fest, with Warriors initially failing to capitalise on their numerical advantage and then struggling to break out their own half against a committed but uninspired Stormers side.
Even when they did manage to regain a foothold during the final quarter, Warriors’ attack lacked punch and variety, and they failed to work through enough phases to really challenge the Stormers’ defence.
Still, a win is a win, and not to be sniffed at against a team who arrived at Scotstoun as URC table-toppers. Their defensive resolve was impressive and their set-piece was dominated, although Warriors will be kicking themselves for not picking up a bonus point their commanding half-time position suggested was going to be a formality.
“Look, this is a quality team we played so we know they are going to fight back in the second half, and I think the physical effort they put in tonight showed because they won most of the collisions, ” said Warriors head coach Franco Smith. “They are well prepared and they are a good team, which we knew before the game.
“Where we are in the season with the number of players we are bleeding in, it was important to play both sides of the ball tonight. We fought well when we had to without the ball and there was some very good opportunities created in the first half.
“Of course we would always like the best of everything, and I think the players know that even in the last action when we turned it over five yards out there was still opportunity for us to go to the width and see if we can score, so the opportunities were there [to get the bonus-point] but we just didn’t take them, which is understandable at the beginning of the season.”
Warriors started in lively fashion. A trademark burst from Johnny Matthews produced quick ball, and Stafford McDowall sensed the Stormers blitz defence had cut off is passing options so he launched a lovely cross-kick which Sebastian Cancelliere – who missed last week’s game because he was attending the birth of his first child – will feel he should have gathered in acres of space. The right winger almost made amends a few minutes later with a searing break, but this time his offload to George Horne didn’t go to hand.
Instead, it was the visitors who drew first blood with a penalty from the extravagantly named Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu awarded against Ollie Smith for holding on.
Warriors struck back almost immediately with by advantage of Feinberg-Mngomezulu fumbling the restart to set up camp inside the visitors’ 22, and from a solid scrum platform, Sione Tuipulotu cut a devastating line off a beautifully delayed pass off McDowall at first receiver to dart under the posts.
An Oli Kebble offside allowed Feinberg-Mngomezulu to kick another three points, but once again Warriors pressurised the restart, withHorne doing brilliantly to charge down Feinberg-Mngomezulu’s clearance and win his team the sort of close-range line-out which Johnny Matthews lives for. As sure as night follows day, the prolific hooker took control of the ball at the back of the maul and helped himself to his 26th try in 53 appearances for the club.
After an exchange of penalties between Horne and Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Stormers lost their discipline and consequently two forwards to the sin-bin inside the space of 60 seconds, with flanker Evan Roos seeing yellow for a judo throw on Matt Fagerson yards away from the breakdown, and hooker Joseph Dweba soon joining him for a tip-tackle on Greg Peterson.
Warriors kicked that penalty to the corner and Matthews – who else? – scurried off the back of the maul to bring the curtain down on the half with his second try of the evening, and his 27th of his Warriors career.
Glasgow were ragged at the start of the second half with their eagerness to capitalise on that two man advantage leading to drift in focus, summed up by Zander Fagerson‘s clumsy fumble inside the Stormers’ 22 after a series of one-out carries had gone nowhere.
Buoyed by surviving that yellow-card period with no further loss of points, the Stormers dominated the next 10 minutes, and the South Africans will be kicking themselves that they opted to scrum a Sione Vailanu offside penalty right under the Warriors posts, only to have tight-head Neethling Fouché penalised for driving across.
Still Warriors couldn’t escape their half, and apart from a brilliant penalty won over the tackled man by Vailanu, there was little for the Scotstoun faithful to get excited about. The home side desperately needed a spark, which Horne came close to providing when he broke from the base and scuttled into opposition territory, but Warrick Gelant and Leolin Zas did well to tidy up the scrum-half’s chip ahead.
That was the catalyst to a slightly brighter spell for Warriors, and they were frustrated when referee Chris Busby spotted a knock-on during the move leading to Cancellere finding himself in space on the right, although the Argentinean winger still had a fair bit of work to do.
Alas, that’s as exciting as it got. The game fizzled out with no scoring at all in the second half.
Glasgow Warriors : O Smith; S Cancelliere, S Tuipulotu, S McDowall, K Rowe; T Jordan (D Weir 63), G Horne (J Dobie 77); O Kebble (J Bhatti, 50), J Matthews (A Fraser 77), Z Fagerson (L Sordoni 63), G Peterson (A Samuel 77), R Gray (S Cummings 50), G M Fagerson, R Darge, S Vialanu (H Venter 72).
Stormers: W Gelant; A Davids (A Venter 44-48), B Loader, S Feinberg-Mngomezulu, L Zas; J du Plessis (C Blommetjies. 65), H Jantjies (S Ungerer 75); A Vermaak (L Gqoboka 49-78), J Dweba (A Venter 60), N Fouche (B Harris 67), B Dixon, R van Heerden (G Porter 49), W Engelbrecht (M Theunissen 49), E Roos, K Morabe (A Smith 49).
Referee: Chris Busby
Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Tuipulotu, Matthews 2; Con: Horne 3; Pen: Horne.
Stormers: Pen: Feinberg-Mngomezulu 3.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow Warriors first): 0-3; 5-3; 7-3; 7-6; 12-6; 15-6; 15-9; 20-9 (h-t)
Yellow cards –
Stormers: Roos (38 mins), Dweba (39 mins)