Emirates Lions 44-21 Glasgow Warriors

Emirates Lions 44-21 Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow Warriors fell to defeat in Johannesburg this afternoon, as a second-half blitz from the Emirates Lions saw the home side claim a 44-21 victory at Emirates Airline Park.

It was the home side who made the brighter start, with Gianni Lombard presented with an opportunity for the opening points after just 90 seconds. The Lions fly-half would push his penalty wide of the uprights though, leaving the scoreline untouched.

Lombard would have the chance to make amends with 11 minutes on the clock, but the fly-half once again failed to find the target from 15 metres out in front of the uprights, much to the surprise of the home faithful.

Instead, it was the Warriors who opened the scoring in scintillating style. Gregor Brown’s sharp reading of the play saw the second-rower pick off an interception inside his own half, before swift hands and distribution saw Sione Tuipulotu and Stafford McDowall race into Lions territory. George Horne’s slide-rule grubber kick in behind was perfectly weighted, with Rowe winning the race to touch down for his eighth try of the campaign. Horne converted, and Glasgow had a 7-0 lead with 13 minutes played.

With Ruan Venter in the sin-bin for a head-high tackle to boot, Glasgow were keen to make their advantage count. In an increasingly end-to-end game, however, the Warriors drew a blank with the extra man, Rory Darge coming the closest only to be bundled into touch 10 metres out.

Restored to a full compliment, the Lions opened their account on 26 minutes, as Jordan Hendrikse – assuming the kicking duties from Lombard – slotted a penalty from 10 metres to narrow the deficit. Yet back would come the visitors immediately, as only some last-ditch defence from the Lions would deny Rowe his second of the afternoon.

The home crowd then rose to its feet with six minutes to play in the opening stanza. Quan Horn’s late surge into the line took the full-back through a gap, before feeding Rabz Maxwane on his outside to send the winger over the whitewash. Hendrikse struck the outside of the posts with the conversion attempt, but the Lions held an 8-7 lead.

Yet the first-half drama wasn’t finished yet. First, Venter would be shown a straight red for a dangerous tackle on Tom Jordan, before Francke Horn followed him off the field after being shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock on. Whilst the Warriors couldn’t take advantage immediately, they knew that eight minutes of 15-on-13 awaited them after the restart.

Knowing the first score of the half could prove crucial, Glasgow immediately set about their task. After Duncan Weir – on after Venter’s hit on Jordan – dispatched a penalty to within 10 metres of the Lions’ line, the pack went to work. Johnny Matthews and Zander Fagerson would go close, before Ferrie spotted the gap to pick up and barge over for his first try in Glasgow colours. Horne added the extras, and the Warriors had a 14-8 lead with 48 minutes on the clock.

Back came the home side immediately, with a trademark counter-attacking score. Rowe’s line break was cut short by Sonele Nohamba, before turnover ball was spun wide to Edwill van der Merwe. From fully 65 metres out the winger had it all to do, but showed enough pace to regather his own chip downfield and touch down for the score. Nohamba converted, and the Lions were back in the lead once more.

No sooner had the crowd settled after one score then they were on their feet yet again, as the Lions made it a quickfire double. Once again turnover ball was the catalyst, the hosts moving it through three pairs of hands before Maxwane dived over for his second of the afternoon. Nohamba converted, and the Lions led 23-14 with 24 minutes to play.

It would be three tries as many minutes for the home side, as another counter-attack was finished with aplomb by Morne van den Berg. Nohamba, who was quickly becoming the focal point for the Lions, added the extras, giving his side a 29-14 advantage.

Not content with just providing the attacking impetus, Nohamba duly crossed for a score of his own with 17 minutes remaining, the replacement picking off an interception and darting home from halfway. The conversion was successful, and the Lions led 36-14.

Glasgow weren’t done yet, though. Phase upon phase of pressure in the Lions 22 earned a penalty that was sent to the corner, and whilst the maul was stopped short, there was no denying McKay as the full-back collected Tuipulotu’s short ball to crash over. Weir converted, and the scoreboard read 36-21 with 10 minutes remaining.

A Nohamba penalty from in front of the posts would put the result beyond any remaining doubt, however, and with the clock ticking down there was time for one final score for the home faithful to cheer. Replacement back-rower Hanru Sirigel was the man to break through and touch down, taking the final score to 44-21 in the home side’s favour.

The Warriors will now regroup and attack the final round of the regular season with renewed vigour, knowing that every point against Zebre Parma in a fortnight’s time could prove crucial in the race for a home playoff.

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