Glasgow Warriors v Scarlets

Glasgow Warriors made a successful return to Scotstoun this evening, grinding out a deserved 20-7 win over Scarlets to claim their first victory of the new campaign.

Tries from Oli Kebble and Ryan Wilson, in addition to an impressive defensive display, saw Danny Wilson’s men earn the result on their first match in Glasgow since the middle of February.

In perfect conditions for rugby at Scotstoun, the early stages were a cagey affair as both sides looked to feel their way into the match. Defences had the upper hand, with Wilson in particular causing mayhem at the Scarlets lineout.

The first half chance of the evening went to the visitors, as a sniping Gareth Davies took play to within five metres. Kebble was on hand to lock on to the ball at the ruck, however, winning the penalty from referee Frank Murphy and easing the pressure on the Warriors.

If the first attacking chance went to the Scarlets, the first concrete chance of points fell to Adam Hastings on 20 minutes. However, presented with a shot at goal from 45 metres after a Scarlets infringement at the ruck, the fly-half pushed his attempt wide and the game remained scoreless.

The Scotland man made amends seven minutes later, slotting a kick from nearly the same position after good work from Ratu Tagive had forced the visitors to go off their feet at the breakdown. The Warriors were establishing themselves on the match, and the 3-0 lead was just rewards for their opening half-hour.

On 33 minutes, the home side further stamped their authority on the match with the game’s first try. After good work from Tagive and Tommy Seymour, the Warriors pack went to work. In the end it was the bleached-blond figure of Kebble who powered over from close-range, Hastings adding the extras for a 10-0 lead at the interval.

The home side picked up where they had left off immediately after the break, as Seymour and Nick Grigg each made half-breaks in behind the Scarlets defence.

Then came the first card of the night; a high shot on Tagive from Sam Louisi earned the Tongan a straight red card from referee Frank Murphy, and the Scarlets were down to 14 men for the remainder of the match.

After kicking the resulting penalty into the Scarlets 22, repeat penalties and pressure eventually told for the Warriors on 45 minutes. Fraser Brown’s tap-and-go was ultimately stopped short by the visiting defence, but just two phases later it was his fellow co-captain Wilson that burrowed over for the hosts’ second score. The conversion from Hastings was on target, and the Warriors led 17-0 with half an hour to play.

The lead was further extended just five minutes later, after stifling Glasgow defence and a powerful shove at scrum-time earned another shot at goal for Hastings. Once more the fly-half was on target, giving his team a 20-0 lead.

Needing to score next to have any chance, the Scarlets eventually got themselves on the board after 56 minutes. A close-range lineout was initially defended well by the Warriors, but a powerful burst from Samson Lee saw the tight-head touch down for the try. Leigh Halfpenny’s conversion made it 20-7, and the Scarlets’ tails were up going into the final quarter.

The game was opening up, and the Warriors were almost the first to take advantage on 62 minutes. A superb break from Hastings saw Seymour freed on the wing, but the British and Irish Lion was felled just five metres out by the covering Steff Evans.

At the other end, it was the Scarlets turn to put pressure on their opponents. Repeated infringements eventually saw Richie Gray sent to the sin-bin moments after coming on for his 50th appearance, but the Glasgow defence held firm.

It became 14 v 13 as the game ticked into its final 10 minutes, as Nick Grigg was shown a yellow card for a high tackle in midfield. Yet again the Glasgow defensive line was unbroken, Rob Harley leading from the front to disrupt the Scarlets attacking tempo.

Defence was to the fore once more as the clock moved past 80 minutes, as Stafford McDowall and Chris Fusaro’s physicality forced a match-ending turnover. Niko Matawalu was the man to boot the ball into touch, as the Warriors put the final seal on their first win of the new season.

live commentary 5:15 PM Sunday 11 Oct 2020

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