Glasgow Warriors V Leicester Tigers
Glasgow Warriors got their 2016/17 European Champions Cup campaign off to the best possible start as they claimed a bonus-point 42-13 win over Leicester Tigers at Scotstoun.Leonardo Sarto runs in one of his two tries
A dominant forward display set the platform for a memorable Warriors performance, who ran in five tries in front of a capacity 7351 crowd. Man-of-the-match Leonardo Sarto grabbed a brace, with Fraser Brown, Henry Pyrgos and Mark Bennett also touching down.
Having been led on to the Scotstoun pitch by Gordon Reid on the occasion of his 100th appearance for the club, Glasgow got the game underway as Finn Russell hoisted a kick into the night sky.
With both sides playing the territorial game in the opening exchanges, the first opportunity for points took until the seventh minute to arrive as Leicester were awarded a penalty on the Glasgow 22. Fly-half Owen Williams made no mistake with the kick to give his side an early 3-0 advantage.
However, the visitors soon found themselves down to 14 men, as centre Matt Toomua was shown a yellow card on his Leicester debut for a tip tackle on Russell. From the resulting penalty, Stuart Hogg thumped over the kick at goal from 55 metres to level the scores after 13 minutes.
The Warriors’ numerical advantage was short-lived, though. Ryan Wilson was sent to the sin bin just three minutes later for a professional foul inside his own 22, and Leicester took advantage. Having kicked the resulting penalty to the corner, a rolling maul saw Brendan O’Connor touch down for the first try of the night. Williams’ subsequent conversion took the score to 10-3 to the Tigers with 20 minutes played.
Glasgow hit back almost immediately. Having put together a number of phases in the Leicester 22, Leonardo Sarto spotted a gap at the side of a ruck and sniped his way over from 10 metres. Russell was on target with the conversion, levelling the scores once more.
Just two minutes later, the Warriors took the lead for the first time. Henry Pyrgos’ pass found Fraser Brown on a tight angle 15 metres out, with the hooker’s momentum carrying him over the line for the try. Russell’s conversion took the score to 17-10 in favour of the home side.
Leicester were struggling to live with Gregor Townsend’s side, with Glasgow’s pack making ground at every opportunity. The Warriors’ third try arrived on 32 minutes, with Henry Pyrgos touching down for an opportunistic try from all of two yards. For the first time on the night, Russell was wayward from the tee, leaving the score at 22-10.
Mark Bennett scores the bonus-point try
Williams reduced the deficit with a penalty, meaning that, with Hogg missing a long-range attempt with the last kick of the half, the scoreline read 22-13 to Glasgow as the half-time whistle blew.
Leicester started the second half strongly, as they looked to register an early score. However, the Warriors defensive line, led by the likes of Rob Harley and Gordon Reid, held firm.
Instead, it was the hosts who were first on the scoreboard in the second half. Russell was on target with a penalty on 55 minutes, extending the lead to 25-13.
Russell was nearly the catalyst for Glasgow’s next score just seconds later. A quick tap penalty in his own 22 sparked a length of the field move, which resulted in Rory Hughes just being held up over the try line.
The Warriors forward pack were continuing to dominate, however. After repeated pressure on the Leicester set-piece, Russell kept the scoreboard ticking over with a penalty, taking the score to 28-13 with just 15 minutes remaining.
To the delight of a capacity Scotstoun crowd, the bonus point arrived soon after. Mathew Tait’s pass was picked off in his own 22 by Mark Bennett, with the centre sprinting home to touch down under the posts. Russell made no mistake with the conversion and Glasgow led 35-13.
There was more to come from the home side. With Leicester pressing, a wide pass found only the hands of Leonardo Sarto, with the Italian running in for his second try of the game. Once more, Russell was on target from in front of the posts, with the score now reading 42-13 in Glasgow’s favour.
With the clock ticking past full-time, all that was left was for Glasgow’s defence to win one final turnover to secure the win. Attentions now turn to next week’s trip to Munster, as Gregor Townsend’s men look to build on their impressive start in the European Champions Cup.