Gray pleased with Perpignan victory
You have to go back to Firhill in the autumn of 2011 to find the last Glasgow Warriors fixture that featured a certain Richie Gray amongst the try-scorers.
Twelve years on from that memorable match-winner against Bath, the big second-rower was once again on the scoresheet as the 2022/23 vintage of Warriors secured their place in the last 16 of the EPCR Challenge Cup with a 40-26 win over Perpignan.
For the man himself, there’s a certain satisfaction in getting amongst the scorers.
“I’m chuffed, aye,” Gray told glasgowwarriors.org post-match.
“Johnny [Matthews] made a good wee line break, and then Ollie [Smith] went clear up the touchline. If you don’t finish chances like that then you’ve got to answer a few questions, so it was good to get over the whitewash.”
Gray was more pleased by his team’s result, however, as Franco Smith’s men put their hosts to the sword at the Stade Aime Giral.
With a bonus point secured en route to a seventh successive win in all competitions, maintaining that momentum whilst securing the right result was all-important, even in an imperfect performance from the men in black.
“The start was obviously a bit ropey for us with the early yellow card and letting them in for an early try, but I thought we fought our way back into the game well,” said Gray.
“We could have been more direct at times throughout that game, too, and our discipline was nowhere near where we want it to be, so it wasn’t the perfect performance by any means.
“However, it’s 40 points at a tough venue in France, and it’s a bonus-point win that’s incredibly important in the context of the competition.”
Gray was also quick to compliment the performance of Euan Ferrie, with the FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy talent playing the full 80 minutes on his first start for the club.
“I thought Euan was great today,” said the second-rower.
“He put himself about the park really well, and he was one of the main lineout options for me as the lineout caller. Having someone like him makes my job a lot easier, as you know he’ll perform well.
“For him to play the full 80, too, is very impressive and I thought he did really well.”
With a place in the last 16 now secured, attentions turn to the battle for a home knockout tie amongst the qualifiers from Pool A.
A win against Bath next weekend is now a non-negotiable in that pursuit, with Gray all too aware of the importance of the Warrior Nation’s role under the Friday night lights at Scotstoun.
“It’s going to be a massive game,” said Gray.
“We can’t wait to get back home again – the last home match against the Stormers was probably the best atmosphere I’ve experienced at Scotstoun in a long time, so hopefully we can give the supporters a performance they can get behind.
“It’s a big match in terms of trying to secure a home knockout spot, and the noise they make can make all the difference.”