Glasgow Warriors 7-12 La Rochelle

Glasgow Warriors were denied in dramatic circumstances this evening, as La Rochelle claimed a 12-7 victory in atrocious conditions at Scotstoun.

A late score from the home side was ruled out by the match officials to deny Dave Rennie’s side the chance of victory, with the Warriors left empty-handed save for a losing bonus-point.

In what could be kindly described as challenging weather, the early exchanges were dominated by the boot as both sides looked to establish a foothold in the match. Huw Jones created the pick of the early attacking opportunities, with the centre’s break and chip ahead almost creating a try for Adam Hastings with eight minutes on the clock.

Indeed it was the hosts that were first to mount a period of sustained pressure in opposition territory; a series of penalties were kicked to the corner by Hastings, and a breakthrough felt imminent.

The first score of the match eventually arrived on 16 minutes, and it was fitting that it arrived from a rolling maul. A rumbling mass of Warriors forwards proved too much for the visiting defence to deal with, with credit for the score eventually given to Fraser Brown. Hastings converted from out wide, and the hosts led 7-0.

The weather was to play a key role in La Rochelle establishing a foothold of their own, however. Brock James’ kick at the posts from 40 metres was brutally dismissed by the wind, coming up 20 metres short of it’s intended target. However, the bounce of the ball favoured the visitors and just three minutes later the men in yellow were in at the corner. Jules Favre was the man to provide the finish in style, James’ conversion off target from the touchline.

Momentum was well and truly with the visitors, however, as Ronan O’Gara’s men began to dominate the possession statistics as the first half wore on. Despite almost being caught out by a Stafford McDowall charge-down inside their own 22, the attacking threat was coming from La Rochelle.

The visitors’ second try arrived with five minutes remaining in the half, with the opening period’s outstanding player at the heart of it. Fijian centre Levani Botia capped an all-action half by making an arcing outside break into the Glasgow 22, before flipping an offload inside to Marc Andreu. Whilst the winger was dragged down by Tommy Seymour, Botia was on hand to pick up and crash over under the posts, James converting for a 12-7 half-time lead.

As was the case in the first-half, the early inroads after the break were made by the home side. McDowall’s early burst put Glasgow in La Rochelle territory, whilst Niko Matawalu was a lively presence on the wing as the rain continued to fall heavily at Scotstoun.

The Fijian was almost on the end of a moment of magic on 50 minutes; seeing space in behind the La Rochelle defence, a delightful kick off the outside of the boot from Price evaded the Fijian’s fingers by millimetres, but the Warriors were on top.

Indeed all of the attacking intent was now coming from the home side, as Dave Rennie’s men fought to get back on level terms. That pressure was putting the visiting defence under severe pressure, with Nick Grigg – on in midfield for McDowall – only denied a try by some desperate defence from the men in yellow.

With that pressure came a series of penalties for the home side, as referee Wayne Barnes’s patience began to grow thin. Eventually that patience snapped entirely, as Alexi Bales was shown a yellow card on 65 minutes after an eighth successive penalty decision went the way of the Warriors.

Yet try as they might, the home side couldn’t take advantage of the extra man. Consistent scramble defence from La Rochelle, coupled with handling errors at inopportune moments from the home side meant that the visitors entered the final moments with their lead still intact.

Then came the drama; with 79 minutes on the clock, the Warriors went through the phases, travelling 40 metres with ball in hand before Scott Cummings went galloping over from the La Rochelle 22. Scotstoun erupted, only for referee Barnes to call a halt to the celebrations. After consultation with TMO Rowan Kitt, it was deemed that Matt Fagerson had led with the forearm into an earlier carry. The number eight was shown the red card, the try was ruled out and the points were La Rochelle’s, much to the chagrin of the Warrior Nation.

The Warriors players, staff and supporters will now look ahead to next weekend's clash with Edinburgh at Scotstoun, bringing in the festive season in traditional style next Saturday evening.

live commentary 5:15 PM Saturday 14 Dec 2019

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Kick-off 5:15 PM

Glasgow Warriors

La Rochelle

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