Exeter Chiefs 19-17 Glasgow Warriors
A dramatic last-minute disallowed try denied Glasgow Warriors a famous win in Devon this afternoon, falling to a 19-17 defeat at the hands of Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park.
Euan Ferrie’s score with the clock firmly in the red had seemingly snatched what would have been a deserved victory for Franco Smith’s squad, with Kyle Rowe and Sione Tuipulotu having crossed for tries in a memorable away performance.
Spurred on by a vocal travelling cohort of the Warrior Nation, Franco Smith’s men came racing out of the blocks in front of a packed out Sandy Park. Were it not for the bounce of the ball, Rowe could have opened the scoring after just four minutes after chasing down Josh McKay’s chip ahead, whilst only an unfortunate accidental offside could deny Gregor Hiddleston a score nine minutes into his professional debut.
Glasgow were on the front foot, and finally made their momentum count with 11 minutes on the clock. A high tackle by Greg Fisilau saw the Exeter number eight dispatched to the sin bin, George Horne slotting the penalty from straight in front of the posts for a 3-0 lead.
The scrum-half was then the next Warrior to go within a fingertip of crossing for the opening try, tracking Ally Miller’s line break from Huw Jones’ offload to perfection. The pass would just evade Horne’s grasp, however, with Hiddleston and Alex Samuel reacting sharply to shut down Exeter’s attempted counter-attack.
Franco Smith’s men would eventually find their way through, though, with the ball this time favouring the men in black. Turnover ball in midfield allowed Horne to chip over the top from the base of the ruck, the bounce sitting up kindly for Rowe to gather and race home from 35 metres. Weir – restored after passing his head injury assessment – added the extras, and the Warriors led 10-0 after half an hour.
The hosts finished the half on the front foot themselves, however, as the Sandy Park crowd urged their team forward in pursuit of a response. With the clock in the red at the end of the opening stanza, Jacques Vermuelen was the man to eventually ground the ball after sustained pressure in the Glasgow 22, Henry Slade converting to leave the score at 10-7 to the Warriors at the interval.
In almost a carbon copy of the first half, Glasgow would once again begin the half the stronger of the two teams. Sione Tuipulotu’s deft handling almost sent Jones clean through a gap, whilst Rowe and McKay continued to cause chaos in the wide channels.
This time, though, the first try of the half was not to be long in arriving, as the Warrior Nation’s voices rose above the rest. It began with Scott Cummings punching a hole in the defence and galloping through, making 20 metres before offloading to Horne. The scrum-half checked, stepped and found the charging McKay out wide, who in turn sent captain Tuipulotu on an unstoppable burst to the line. Weir converted expertly from out wide, taking the score to 17-7 to the Warriors with 56 minutes played.
Exeter’s response was swift, the hosts immediately going back on the hunt for a try of their own. Despite some herculean defence on their own goal-line, the Warriors were unable to do anything about Dan Frost burrowing his way over the line on 63 minutes, yet Slade’s wayward conversion attempt kept Glasgow’s lead at 17-12 inside the final quarter.
The home side thought they had levelled the scores just three minutes later, as Zack Wimbush finished off a counter-attack out wide to the delight of the Sandy Park faithful. The TMO would intervene, however, calling out a knock-on from Ross Vintcent in the build-up and chalking off the score.
Wimbush was not to be denied with six minutes to play, though, scoring what would prove to be the crucial score after swift first-phase hands from the home side. Slade held his nerve from the touchline to edge his team in front, but there was still time for the drama to be raised once more.
With the clock in the red, the rollercoaster had just begun for the Warrior Nation. Strong harrying from Horne at the base of a five-metre scrum forced the error from Vintcent, scuffing his attempted kick to touch straight into the arms of Ferrie. Over went the big man to spark jubilant scenes on the field and on the touchline, only for the officials to – eventually, after lengthy deliberation – call the play back and disallow the score.
A bitter pill for Smith’s side to swallow, but qualification for the last 16 remains firmly in their own hands – all eyes now turn to Scotstoun on Friday night, with a victory against Toulon now imperative in pursuit of the knockout stages.