Glasgow Warriors 21-25 Scarlets

Glasgow Warriors came up just short in their search for a dramatic victory at Scotstoun this evening, as the Scarlets held on to edge a 25-21 win under the Friday night floodlights.

Late scores from Brandon Thomson and Stafford McDowall had given the Warrior Nation hope, having seen their side trail 25-9 going into the final 15 minutes.

A cagey opening spell saw both sides look to figure each other out with ball in hand, with a Rory Hughes half-break from an attacking lineout the closest either team came to an opening blow.

Instead it was the boot that dominated the opening exchanges, with Thomson striking with a ninth-minute penalty to open the scoring for the home side.

The Warriors pack was enjoying itself early on, exemplified perfectly by Tim Swinson’s determined work at the lineout to steal Scarlets ball on his own 22. Yet the visitors were also showing their capabilities in defence, putting pressure on the Glasgow attack at every opportunity.

The first clear-cut opportunity went the way of the Welsh outfit – having sucked in the Glasgow defence, a wide pass found Tom James lurking on the touchline for an unopposed run to the line. However, the Welsh international couldn’t hold on to the ball, with the Scarlets having to settle for a score-levelling penalty courtesy of fly-half Dan Jones on 23 minutes.

Once more, it was the Warriors pack that were dominating proceedings. Alex Allan – on for Oli Kebble early on – made his presence felt with an energetic charge into the Scarlets 22, before Matt Fagerson followed suit on his 50th cap by sitting down Scarlets skipper Steff Hughes.

Hughes got his own back just moments later, however, as his defensive read earned his side a penalty. Having missed an earlier kick at the posts, Jones atoned by striking from the Glasgow ten-metre line to give his side a lead with two minutes left in the half.

The hosts would have the final word before the break, however. After winning the ball back from the restart, an attacking lineout provided the perfect platform to launch a bid for the try-line. Whilst the visitors repelled McDowall’s lunge for the line, an offside infringement provided Thomson with the opportunity to level the scores at the interval. The South African duly obliged, leaving the sides locked at 6-6 going into the changing rooms.

Thomson followed up his closing act of the opening stanza by registering the first points of the second half just three minutes after the restart. The fly-half’s half-break and offload to Callum Gibbins saw the Scarlets forced to infringe at the ruck, with Thomson gratefully accepting the points on offer to give his side the lead.

That lead lasted all of two minutes, as the Scarlets struck for the game’s opening try. Gathering a speculative kick cross-field, James made the break through the Glasgow defence before feeding scrumhalf Kieran Hardy on his shoulder. The half-back scampered under the posts, with Jones adding the conversion for a 13-9 lead.

The visitors compounded the Warriors’ woe just moments later, making it a quickfire double of scores on 49 minutes. A break from Johnny McNicholl was only stopped by a desperate effort from Allan and Ruaridh Jackson, before the Scarlets recycled the ball through the phases inside the Glasgow 22. In the end, it was Paul Asquith who accepted a short ball from McNicholl to dive over, replacement fly-half Angus O’Brien adding the extra two points.

There was to be further joy for the visitors on 53 minutes, as they crossed for a third try of the game. A dropped ball in midfield saw Steff Evans hack the ball on, getting to the ball first to touch down for a score confirmed by the TMO. The conversion was missed, but the Welsh side had a 25-9 lead entering the final quarter.

Knowing they needed to score next, the Warriors sprang into action. Whilst they were initially repelled by the Scarlets defence, they eventually found a way through on 65 minutes; Rory Hughes’ initial half-break was backed up by repeated phases of possession, before good interplay from Allan and Nick Frisby allowed Thomson to race over untouched for the score. The South African converted his own try for good measure, and the momentum was with the hosts.

The Warrior Nation was now in full voice, roaring their team on as they chased the comeback. With six minutes to go those voices roared in approval for Glasgow’s second try, one that had the crowd on their feet. Spotting the overlap, Stafford McDowall threw a picture-perfect pass to Chris Fusaro, who in turn fed Huw Jones. The Scotland centre pinned his ears back and went for the corner, before throwing a wonderful offload out the back door as he was being dragged into touch. The ball found the arms of the supporting McDowall, and Glasgow were back within a score.

Ultimately, however, the result eluded the home side. With time up on the clock and camped on the Scarlets line, the ball slipped agonisingly forward to deny the Warriors a memorable comeback. A losing bonus-point was all the game could offer the hosts, who return to Scotstoun next weekend for the visit of Cardiff Blues.

live commentary 7:35 PM Friday 4 Oct 2019

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Kick-off 7:35 PM

Glasgow Warriors

Scarlets

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