Glasgow Warriors V Leinster Rugby

A first-half blitz saw Glasgow Warriors record an eighth straight victory in the Guinness PRO14, as Leinster were beaten 31-21 at Scotstoun this evening.Nick Grigg scoring one of his two tries

A brace of tries apiece for Nick Grigg and George Horne, coupled with a man-of-the-match performance from the irrepressible Niko Matawalu, put the game beyond Leinster, as a sold-out Scotstoun was treated to a scintillating attacking display.

With just five minutes on the clock, it was the visitors who struck the early blow. Jordan Larmour’s mazy run took the full-back to within touching distance of the try-line, before Jamison Gibson-Park sniped over from close range. Ross Byrne’s converted, giving Leinster a 7-0 lead.

However, with fireworks erupting behind the East Stand, the Warriors ignited their own sparkling attack just a minute later. Niko Matawalu’s break and offload found George Turner in support, with the hooker showing quick hands to deliver the ball to George Horne. From the Leinster 22, the scrum-half wasn’t to be stopped, with elder brother Peter drawing his side level with the conversion.

The pace of the game was electric, with Leinster immediately responding by crossing the Warriors line once more. After maintaining possession in the Glasgow 22, the ball was eventually spun wide to Rory O’Loughlin, the centre touching down for the score. Byrne was on target once again, and the lead was Leinster’s once more.

On 14 minutes, though, the teams were brought level yet again, with Matawalu once again at the heart of the action. The Fijian’s quick thinking and searing pace saw him break to within 20 metres of the Leinster line, before finding the Horne brothers in support. Despite the attack being stopped short, the ball was recycled to allow Nick Grigg to crash over, with Peter Horne’s conversion tying the game at 14-14.

In an action-packed first quarter, Leinster found themselves reduced to 14 men on 17 minutes, as Jordi Murphy’s cynical foul on George Horne saw the flanker shown the yellow card by referee Stuart Berry.

It didn’t take long for the Warriors to capitalise. With Leinster down a forward in the defensive line, George Horne spotted a gap after a strong carry from Tim Swinson, darting over from just a couple of metres for his second score of the evening. Once again, the elder Horne added the extras, as Glasgow took the lead for the first time in the game.

Then came a try that brought Scotstoun to its feet and sent the volume through the roof. Picking the ball up two metres from his own line, Matawalu did what the Fijian does best – create magic. Beating countless Leinster defenders and showing terrific acceleration, he took play to within 15 metres of the visitors try-line, before feeding Grigg for the simplest of run-ins. Cue scenes of jubilation amongst the capacity crowd. Horne’s conversion took the score to 28-14, with less than half an hour played.

George Horne scored a brace in the bonus-point winWith the game showing no sign of slowing, both kickers elected to try and bring some order to proceedings, with contrasting results. Byrne’s missed penalty on 32 minutes was followed by a successful attempt by Horne two minutes later. It was an advantage they held until the interval as, shockingly by the game’s attacking standards, no further points were scored in the intervening six minutes.

It was the visitors who enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession as the second half got underway, with the pressure eventually telling. After Scott Cummings found himself sent to the sin-bin, the ball was worked wide to Leinster winger Adam Byrne, who produced an impressive finish to touch down under pressure. From the touchline, Ross Byrne converted, with the score reading 31-21 in favour of the Warriors.

The game’s end-to-end nature meant chances for both sides, with Larmour and Sam Johnson amongst those to break the defensive lines. The Warrior Nation were boosted on 55 minutes with the return from injury of Alex Dunbar, the centre coming off the bench to replace Johnson as the sin-bin period drew to a close.

Dunbar’s return was marred somewhat on 61 minutes, however, as he found himself the second Warrior of the night to be shown a yellow card, to the dismay of the Scotstoun faithful.

The Glasgow defence held firm, though. Despite near-constant Leinster pressure, the home side’s try-line escaped unscathed, with Dunbar returning to the field for the final 10 minutes to an unchanged scoreline.

Indeed, that was to be the pattern for the game’s final moments. With Leinster chasing a fourth try that would have given them a second bonus-point, the Irish side continued to pile on the pressure. Once again, however, the Warriors defence was solid, with Peter Horne booting the ball dead to close out the victory.

With domestic action taking a break for the Autumn Internationals, Dave Rennie’s side will next be back in action on November 26, as they travel to Swansea to face the Ospreys and look to continue their unbeaten run in the Guinness PRO14.

live commentary 7:35 PM Friday 3 Nov 2017

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