URC: Glasgow v Cardiff: Warriors find a way to get it done to leave even Franco Smith satisfied

Hosts recover from a 13 point half-time deficit with tries from Max Williamson and Lucio Sordoni

Jack Dempsey picked up the man of the match award on a soggy night at Scotstoun © Craig Watson

Glasgow Warriors 17

Cardiff 13

GRAEME MACPHERSON @ Scotstoun Stadium

THAT even a perfectionist like Franco Smith could find some satisfaction in the way that his Glasgow team ground out this victory underlined just how significant it may turn out to be.

Warriors were somewhat short of their best in a contest blighted by heavy rain and a blustery wind but found a way to overturn a half-time deficit to run out eventual victors.

A bonus-point win would have seen them overtake Leinster at the top of the United Rugby Championship table but, on a night when the maul failed to click and their usual fast-paced running game was largely blunted by both an obdurate Cardiff and the weather, that never really looked likely.

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Max Williamson and Lucio Sordoni – who later went off with an injury that Smith hoped wouldn’t prove serious – both claimed their first tries for the club and with Duncan Weir measured off the kicking tee, Warriors found a way to get it done.

Those supporters who braved the March monsoon to traipse out to Scotstoun won’t look back on this match with any great fondness but, in taking another step closer to sealing a home play-off tie, it could turn out to be a hugely important result come the final totting up of the points.

“This is the seventh home game that we’ve played in the rain and that limits us around the way that we play,” said Smith. “But we found other ways to win so, yes, this win is going to be important. We obviously want to challenge ourselves to be the best version of ourselves every week.

“No doubt there were a lot of lessons learned tonight and I’m really excited that we learned those lessons and also win. So those are the positives that I’m going to take from this.

“This group of players I will always back them. I am proud of them. We were always going to be leaving the field with our hearts on our sleeves and the second half was much, much better.”

Warriors struggled in the first half to cope both with Cardiff and the conditions and could have no complaints about heading to the sheds 13 points behind after an error-strewn opening period.

The inclement weather was clearly a factor, with the visitors able to make the most of the wind at their backs to run up an unexpected lead much to the disappointment of the home crowd who were getting gradually soaked in the stands.

Tinus de Beer knocked over two penalties before Cardiff looked to get their opening try of the night, only for some great defensive work by Williamson to deny them on the line after multiple phases of forward play.

Instead it was the Welsh backs who showed them how with a stunning score. Thomas Young burst through a gap in the Glasgow defence before feeding Ellis Bevan who in turn found de Beer.

The fly-half then made a smart basketball style pass to Ben Thomas to power over the line. De Beer made a difficult conversion from out wide to leave Smith unhappy at the interval.

“I thought we were getting bullied in the first half physically but it was tough,” he added. “The conditions were probably the worst of the year and sometimes the rain was horizonal in our faces.

“But I still felt that the physical part of things could still have been done better, the mauls and scrums. The breakdowns were poorly managed.

“I only challenged them [the players at half-time] about what they had already done not what they had to do. They had shown in other games that they can be really good. It was much better in the second half.”

It needed to be and they got off to the best possible start.



What a moment it was for Williamson who claimed the first senior try of his career after fastening on to Jamie Dobie’s pass and powering his way over the line.

Dobie had also started the move, peeling away from the scrum down the blind side before passing to Kyle Steyn to get Warriors within reach. Williamson did the rest before Weir added the extras.

A rare moment of indecision from Jack Dempsey – whose ball-carrying brilliance saw him pick up the man of the match award – in allowing the kick-off return to bounce in front of him almost proved costly. Thomas thought he had done enough to touch down for his second try but the match officials ruled he had been held up, much to Glasgow’s relief.

They made full use of that let-off by claiming their second score of the night. This time it was Sordoni who also claimed his first Glasgow score from close range after Dobie – now operating on the wing after George Horne had appeared off the bench – had been denied a few phases earlier.

Weir converted but, with the storm having briefly abated, Cardiff had a chance to regain the lead only for De Beer to strike the post with his kick. Weir made no mistake with another penalty at the other end, meaning the decision to chalk off Steyn’s late score for a forward pass had little effect on the final outcome.

The captain then all but confirmed live on Viaplay that Adam Hastings would be returning to Glasgow in the summer although Smith, typically, kept his cards close to his chest.

“I’ll leave that to the club to decide whether they’re going to take him or not,” was all he would say about one of the worst kept secrets in Scottish rugby.


Teams –

Glasgow: J McKay, S Cancellierre (G Horne 51), S McDowall, T Jordan, K Steyn, D Weir (D Munn 80), J Dobie; N McBeth (A Dell 77), J Matthews (G Hiddleston 77), L Sordoni (O Kebble 56), M Williamson, A Samuel (A Miller 51), E Ferrie (S Manjezi 77), M Fagerson (H Venter 51), J Dempsey

Cardiff: J Beetham, M Grady, M Clark (W Halaholo 40), B Thomas, A Summerhill, T De Beer, E Bevan; R Carre, L Belcher (E Daniel 54), W Davies-King (C Parker 65), S Lewis-Hughes (S Davies 55), T Williams, B Donnell, T Young, M Martin (E Jenkins 53)

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)


Scorers –

Glasgow: Tries: Williamson, Sordoni; Cons: Weir 2; Penalties: Weir

Cardiff: Tries: Thomas; Cons: De Beer; Penalties: De Beer 2

Scoring sequence (Glasgow first): 0-3; 0-6; 0-11; 0-13 (h-t) 5-13; 7-13; 12-13; 14-13; 17-13.

Yellow cards: None

Attendance: 6,849

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About Graeme Macpherson 39 Articles
Graeme Macpherson is a freelance sports writer who covers rugby for a number of outlets.


  1. Sometime you have to win ugly and that is what the good teams do – Munster had a similar experience last night. With the end of the regular season approaching every point is vital and thank goodness the boys only dropped one. Dempsey and Big Stafford were excellent as usual, while Max Williamson grow with every performance. I would take him on the Scotland summer tour – which is presumably partly for developing new talent – for his prospects for maturing into a top class player are bright. Interestingly I thought Dobie was the better of our two scrum halves last night and he needs more game time at nine instead of getting shunted out to thew wing. A word for Cardiff, who were no mugs. And why on Earth didn’t Wales play Mason Grady throughout the Six Nations? Another one with a big future.

    • I thought Dobie and Weir were poor, especially first half. Weir still stands too deep and just shovels ball on. So easy for a defence to gte in backs faces. Not helped by |Dobie having recently developed a Laoidlawesque pick up ball, take a step, wind arms up then pass. The delay is a real problem and sort of ensures Weir stands deeper

  2. A tough game that Glasgow did well to win. Cardiff solid in defence and killed our lineout drives, that’s a concern.

  3. Was impressed by Cardiff – their defence was rock solid for most of the match and were unlucky not to get something out of the game. But good resilience from Warriors to get a win on such a filthy night.

  4. Wow yet again that was some weather. A good win against a much better Cardiff side than I expected. Good games from McDowall, Steyn , Dempsey, Williamson and Matthews. I thought that Jordan did not go as well this week with Weir as his partner. Will someone please tell Horne that a tap penalty from just inside the half way line has no chance of success. That’s the second team this year to fragment our 5 meter maul how will Mathews get tries without it.
    Final thought I watch Premiership highlights and I do not think I have seen Hastings this year much , he always seems to be injured. Not sure if bringing him back is the answer to our 10 problems.

  5. Not really enjoyable to watch but the conditions were atrocious in the first half with the game being held up more for boot changes than scrum resets! The conditions and Glasgow improved in the second half to grind out a win which made my trip back to Aberdeen a little more enjoyable. Well done Glasgow – an important win.

  6. Dempsey played well, but I thought young Williamson was man of the match – a great try, some ferocious hits and a lot of hard metres made in contact. He looks like a top prospect, hopefully someone who can develop into Gilchrist’s replacement at international level.

    • Glad Williamson scored the try because he owed us one as their try came from a very weak tackle of his

      • He went too high, but credit to the Cardiff player for the line. He left Williamson wrong footed and off balance.

  7. Cardiff actually played well, aggressive physicality, rush defence, kicking high and kept their errors to a minimum.
    Filthy weather AGAIN in Glasgow did even things up a bit too. A powerful start to the 2nd half proved significant but Cardiff were very close to winning this game. Weir was immaculate from the tee but doesn’t get the back line moving.
    I’d prefer Hastings going to Edinburgh

    • @Pete

      Gla/edin donlt really get preference. What happens is thta the SRU see a player needing a contract so move him (back) to Scotland. There are benefits over player management as you say, but the real downside (and this feeds into the player pathway stuff if slightly obliquely) is that the head coach of each pro team is charged with winning (first) and also with developing young talent – and will be held to account on these; but that same head coach does not fully control who he can sign and an unrequested import (eg Hastings) limits opportunities for others whom the head coach thinks are good to go. This also allocates budget to a position which the coach may think is less of a priority than another position. Murrayfield make decisions but do not carry the can for them, the head coach does.
      With SRU onership there will always be this tension but its gone far too far in the wrong direction

  8. I suspect it was just a poor choice of words from Franco to try and retract what Steyn had said, nothing more.

    However, whether we like it or not, and whether it’s healthy or not for the future of the game, both Pro teams are owned and controlled by the SRU…. It does mean that we as a small nation can look after our best players better… but it does mean some strange decisions. I still suspect that those players that are Gla/Edi based, get priority for Scotland over other players to encourage them to be up here, unless you are playing so much better ie Christie, but even that was painfully slow, and not sure what Bradbury has to do.

    Not saying that either of those are right or wrong, or driven by SRU or GT, but one could quite easily see signs of unconscious or even conscious bias in the decisions being made – which is neither healthy nor best for the Scottish national team.

    Just saying 😁

    • Agreed. How Fagerson or Ritchie were preferred to Christie in the earlier games is actually mind boggling.

  9. I’m a little concerned about a quote Franco made regarding Hastings “I don’t speak on behalf of Kyle Steyn. That might just be something he wants. I’m going to leave that to the club to decide if they want him or not.” Doesn’t Franco have any say at all regarding signing players? Surely it’s not a decision that’s made by someone else? Who? Or will both pro team’s forever be built for a national team that doesn’t actually win anything?


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