Glasgow Warriors returned to action in style at Scotstoun this evening, as a brace of tries in a Player of the Match-winning performance from Sione Tuipulotu helped the home side to a 38-19 win over Ospreys in the United Rugby Championship.
Cole Forbes, Josh McKay and Fraser Brown also crossed the whitewash in a bonus-point victory for the Warriors, as the Warriors leapfrogged their visitors in the overall standings.
Having returned to action a week earlier than their hosts, it was the visitors who registered the opening points of the night. An early big hit from George Turner was undermined by a Glasgow defender coming in from the side, Gareth Anscombe converting the resulting penalty for a 3-0 lead.
Anscombe and Thompson traded further penalties inside the opening quarter, as a stop-start affair saw neither side able to establish a sense of rhythm. That would all change on 22 minutes, however, as the Warriors struck for the night’s opening try. Sparked by the counter-attacking McKay, patient build-up through the phases saw the home side move into the Ospreys 22. Heads-up play from Ali Price and Thompson then allowed McKay to float the ball out for Forbes, who would not be denied from five metres. Thompson added the extras via the post, and Glasgow led 10-6.
Despite Anscombe cutting the gap to a single point almost straight from the restart, Glasgow were unquestionably growing into the match. Their attacking endeavour was duly rewarded on 27 minutes; a delightfully delayed ball from McKay sent Ryan Wilson through a gap, who offloaded in turn to Tuipulotu. The centre initially showed great strength to fend off one tackler, before turning on the afterburners to round the full-back and touch down. The conversion from Thompson made it 17-9, and the Warriors were playing with a smile on their face.
Anscombe’s fourth penalty of the responded for the visitors five minutes later, but the attacking impetus was all coming from Glasgow. Rory Darge almost crossed for a memorable try with four minutes of the half remaining, bursting from halfway to within five metres after spotting a gap. Were it not for the Ospreys scramble defence, the Warriors would have been celebrating once more, having instead to be content with a 17-12 half-time lead.
Scott Cummings went even closer for the home side just 90 seconds into the second stanza, as the second-rower saw Price’s grubber kick bounce agonisingly out of reach in the in-goal area. Yet Glasgow were not to be denied for long; another rampage from Darge saw the flanker take play to within five metres, before patient recycling saw the Warriors progress inch by inch. With advantage in hand, the finish was duly provided by McKay, stepping two defenders to go under the posts for his first try in Glasgow colours. The extras were added by Thompson, and Glasgow had a 24-12 lead.
Attentions were now turning to a bonus-point, and the fourth try was one well worth the wait when it eventually arrived on the hour mark. Collecting a pass from Darge slightly behind him was no problem for Tuipulotu, before beating two men and racing over untouched from 35 metres to the delight of his team-mates. Thompson added the easiest of extras, extending the home side’s lead as play entered the final quarter.
Determined to cross for a try of their own, the Ospreys set about pressurising the Warriors at every opportunity. Only a terrific try-saving effort from Kyle Steyn and Thompson would deny Matthew Aubrey, the pair dove-tailing to deny the Ospreys scrum-half after his charge-down of Thompson’s kick.
The visitors would get their consolation score with 10 minutes remaining, however, with Anscombe the catalyst. Spotting a gap, the fly-half drew the last man and fed the supporting Dan Evans for the run-in, before converting the try from in front of the posts to reduce the deficit to 31-19.
Yet the final word would go to the Warriors, just reward for their endeavours throughout. It would be the returning Brown who would cap off an impressive evening for the hosts, as the hooker tucked himself away at the back of a rolling maul to dot down for the final try of the evening on his return from injury. On for Thompson, Duncan Weir expertly curling the conversion in from the touchline to take the final score to 38-19 in favour of the home side.
With the final whistle sounding soon after, it was a job well done on their return to action for Danny Wilson’s men. Next on the calendar for the Warriors, a trip to Sandy Park, as Exeter lie in wait in the Heineken Champions Cup.
Kick-off 8:00 pm