Glasgow Warriors 13-7 Sale Sharks

Glasgow Warriors made a winning start to their 2019/20 Heineken Champions Cup campaign, grinding out a 13-7 victory over Sale Sharks at Scotstoun this afternoon.

DTH van der Merwe’s first-half try and the boot of Adam Hastings gave the Warriors a commanding lead at the break, before a resolute defensive effort saw them secure the points in the face of a late Sale onslaught.

Right from kick-off, it was clear that the hosts had come to play. Fraser Brown’s efforts at the breakdown on his own 22 won a penalty, from which the ever-lively George Horne was off and away up to halfway. Whilst Sale scrambled well, the pattern for the opening stanza was well and truly set.

Horne was at his threatening best once more on 11 minutes, capitalising on a Sam Johnson line break to chip ahead. Simon Hammersley was on hand to clean up for the visitors, but only at the expense of a five-metre scrum.

It was from that scrum that the opening points of the match arrived, albeit indirectly. Whilst the Sharks were able to hack the ball clear, the over-eager chasing defence went off their feet at the following breakdown to hand Hastings an opportunity from the tee. The fly-half duly accepted the three points on offer, and the Warriors had the lead.

In defence, too, the Warriors were making their presence felt. Ratu Tagive and Callum Gibbins were both more than happy to introduce themselves to their opposite numbers, as the Sharks struggled to break through the Glasgow defensive line.

Whilst Hastings pushed a second penalty attempt wide on 23 minutes, the Warriors number ten didn’t have to wait long for a chance to atone for his error. A high tackle on the fly-half on two minutes later led to his second successful kick of the half, doubling the home side’s lead.

The Warrior Nation, roaring their side on in defence, were now baying for a try to cap a solid opening period. It arrived with five minutes remaining in the first-half, and it was the club’s record try-scorer that provided the finishing touch. After a strong carry from an attacking lineout 30 metres out, Johnson produced a deftly-disguised pop pass to the onrushing van der Merwe, with the Canadian showing Marland Yarde a clean pair of heels to race over untouched. Hastings added the extras, and the Warriors led 13-0 at the interval.

Knowing a reaction was required, the visitors came flying out of the blocks at the start of the second half. Strong early carrying resulted in a penalty which was sent to the corner by AJ McGinty, only for the travelling Sharks supporters to see Scott Cummings soar highest to steal possession at the crucial juncture.

Indeed, it was the Warriors defence that flexed its collective muscle in the half’s opening exchanges, with Matt Fagerson driving McGinty 10 metres back in one tackle to the delight of the Warrior Nation.

Were it not for the bounce of the ball, in fact, the Warriors could have extended their lead on 55 minutes. A clever chip in behind from Hastings saw van der Merwe clear of the defence, with only the cruellest of bounces denying the Warriors winger a second try of the afternoon.

Instead, it was the Sharks that struck. After sustained pressure inside the Glasgow 22, the visitors eventually found their breakthrough; South African prop Coenie Oosthuizen proved unstoppable from close range, with McGinty adding the extras to narrow the gap to 13-7 as the game entered it’s final quarter.

The pattern of the match had now completed a 180-degree turn from the first half – now it was the visitors who were dominating possession, only to be met with a resilient Warriors rear-guard effort. Nick Grigg’s chop tackle on Dan du Preez exemplified the effort of the collective Glasgow defence, as the Sharks found themselves repelled on every occasion.

With attacking chances few and far between in the second half, the Scotstoun faithful sprang to life with five minutes to play. A determined burst from Johnson was followed up by an equally dynamic charge from Kyle Steyn as the Warriors drove to within 10 metres, only to be denied at the breakdown by the Sharks pack.

From the resulting penalty, the visitors mounted one final push for victory. Phase after phase on halfway drew another penalty from referee Ruiz, which was dispatched into the Glasgow 22 by Rob du Preez.

Yet once again the Warriors defence held firm. A strong tackle from Gibbins was followed by a knock-on from a Sale hand, allowing the returning Ali Price to gleefully boot the ball into the stands with the clock firmly in the red.

An opening day victory duly secured, and a capacity crowd sent home happy. It’ll be another English opponent lying in wait for Dave Rennie’s men next weekend, as they make the trip south to face Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park.

live commentary 1:00 PM Saturday 16 Nov 2019

{{ comment.matchTime }}

Kick-off 1:00 PM

Glasgow Warriors

Sale

Newsletter sign up

Sign up to our newsletter today to receive the latest updates, content and releases from Glasgow Warriors.

sign up