Brython Thunder 22-12 Glasgow Warriors
Glasgow Warriors pushed their opponents all the way in Colwyn Bay this afternoon, before ultimately being edged out 22-12 by Brython Thunder in round five of the Celtic Challenge.
A sensational brace from Roma Fraser was not enough to edge out the home side, as Chris Laidlaw’s squad gave everything in pursuit of a first victory.
In conditions that the word dreich was made for describing, the physical tone was set early by both teams. Strong defence from Holland Bogan and Nikki Simpson led the Glasgow line, whilst Izzy Hannay set about making herself a nuisance at the breakdown.
Whilst Simpson would go close after 15 minutes following an overthrown Thunder lineout, it was the home side who opened the scoring at the end of the opening quarter. Spotting an overlap on the short-side, the Welsh outfit worked the space well to free captain Alex Callender, the Welsh international having enough pace to finish out wide for the opening try of the afternoon. Molly Wilkinson couldn’t add the extras, but the hosts led 5-0.
Undeterred, Chris Laidlaw’s squad set about searching for a response with immediate effect. A powerful carry from Chloe Brown on her first start saw the prop make a full 30 metres, whilst Pearl Kellie and Fraser were coming off their wings looking for work.
Once more, however, the Thunder would make their possession count. After earning a penalty in the Glasgow 22, Seren Singleton’s quick tap saw the scrum-half make a half-break before offloading to Amy Williams, the winger riding the tackle of Fraser to score in the corner.
With five minutes left in the half, the home side were celebrating again. A suspiciously forward-looking pass would set Eleanor Hain free on the wing, the flyer breaking clear and up to the 22. Whilst Simpson’s thunderous tackle would stop the winger, Singleton was on hand to apply the finish, Wilkinson adding the extras to make it 17-0 to the hosts.
Glasgow would end the half on top, though, and finally found the breakthrough that their efforts deserved with a minute left of the half in sensational fashion. From inside her own half, Fraser’s footwork saw the winger beat three Thunder defenders before accelerating into space, racing clear to dive over. The conversion went astray, but the Warriors were on the board.
It was almost a quickfire double for Laidlaw’s team, too, Claudia McLaren charging down Wilkinson’s clearing kick with the clock in the red and haring after the ball as it bounced towards the try-line, only for the Thunder to scramble to touch to deny the centre.
The Warriors picked up where they had left off at the start of the second half, immediately exerting pressure on their hosts and enjoying the majority of territory and possession. Simpson thought she had sent Eve Thomson over for a score on 48 minutes after a cleverly-worked lineout move, only for the officials to call a squint throw and disallow the score.
By now, Glasgow were enjoying the upper hand at the set-piece; Ailie Tucker, Simpson and Brown led three almighty shoves at the scrum to earn turnovers on the Thunder five-metre line, whilst only a tackle off the ball could prevent Fraser from sending Izzy Hannay for a second try in as many weeks.
In defence, too, the Warriors were giving no quarter. A sublime try-saving tackle from Ceitidh Ainsworth prevented the Thunder from a try against the run of play, whilst Tucker emphatically shut the door on an attempted front peel from a five-metre lineout.
With four minutes remaining, Laidlaw’s squad finally found the score their pressure deserved. Once more it would come courtesy of a magnificent finish from Fraser, the winger stepping inside two defenders and racing through the gap to dive over under the posts. Lucy MacRae converted, and Glasgow were within a score.
As the Warriors chased the game, though, the Thunder sealed their victory. A fracturing maul 25 metres from the Glasgow line allowed Callender to pick up and sprint clear for her second try of the afternoon, the conversion drifting wide as the clock ticked past 80 minutes to leave the final score at 22-12 to the Welsh outfit.
A performance full of heart from the Warriors, as the inaugural Glasgow group continues their development; the squad will now face a rematch with the Thunder on Saturday 17 February, as the final two rounds of fixtures take shape.