A first-half blitz from Glasgow Warriors saw Danny Wilson’s men secure a bonus-point 35-24 victory over the Cell C Sharks, as the Warrior Nation returned to Scotstoun for a competitive match for the first time in over 18 months.
A brace from Cole Forbes, in addition to scores from Ross Thompson, Ryan Wilson and Jamie Bhatti, ensured that the home side would open their home account in style for the 2021/22 season.
With the Warrior Nation in full voice as they returned to the stands for the first time since February 2020, their team could not have rewarded them with a better start. Straight from the kick-off, Rufus McLean’s break forced the Sharks to concede a lineout in their own 22, and from there the home side struck. With advantage in hand, Sam Johnson’s delayed pass sent Thompson sliding under the posts for a try he converted himself, and Glasgow had a 7-0 lead with just 90 seconds on the clock.
Indeed, the early exchanges were dominated by those in white and blue, as the Warriors set about their task with gusto. A rampaging Jack Dempsey took the hosts into Sharks territory, before winning a penalty from referee Ben Whitehouse. The resulting maul was collapsed by Dylan Richardson, with the flanker sent to the sin-bin for his indiscretion.
Straight away, the Warriors made the extra man count. Whilst the initial tap penalty was stopped short, there was to be no denying Wilson on the secondary shove as the skipper touched down for the try. Thompson added the extras, and Glasgow led 14-0.
The third try wasn’t long in coming, either. On the front foot, Thompson’s grubber in behind turned the covering Yaw Penxe, with Johnson on hand to chop Curwin Bosch to the floor from the pass inside. Thomas Gordon’s work at the breakdown won the penalty, and once more it would be the pack that would do the damage. An unstoppable burst from a couple of yards from Bhatti saw the loose-head register his first try in Glasgow colours, the conversion making it 21-0 to the home side with just 20 minutes played.
Knowing they needed the next score, the Sharks rallied as Richardson returned to the field. Sustained pressure in the Glasgow 22 eventually saw LewRoux Roets driven over for a score eventually confirmed by the Television Match Official. Bosch converted, and the visitors were on the board.
Having soaked up wave after wave of pressure from the visitors – including a trademark lineout steal on his own five-metre line from Richie Gray – though, the Warriors hit back with four minutes to go until the break. A floated ball from Thompson saw Sione Tuipulotu fix his man before hitting a basketball-style pass to Johnson. The centre in turn found the onrushing McLean, who flipped the ball off the floor to Forbes for the score. Thompson’s converted made it 28-7, with a Bosch penalty cutting the gap by three before the break.
It took the Warriors just two minutes to pick up where they left off at the start of the second stanza; retaining possession under pressure from the Sharks defence, a dart down the short side from George Horne saw Forbes freed down the touchline. The full-back was fortunate with the bounce, but regathered his own chip ahead to dive over in front of the East Stand for his second of the afternoon. Thompson added the extras, making it 35-10 to the hosts.
There was almost more to celebrate for the Warriors on 48 minutes, as another break from Horne sent Sione Tuipulotu over next to the posts. However, a TMO review saw the score ruled out for a crossing offence in midfield, much to the chagrin of the Warrior Nation.
Once more, the visitors dug in as they looked for a response, one that arrived on 57 minutes. With advantage in hand, prop Thomas du Toit burrowed his way over close to the uprights, Bosch adding the conversion to take the score to 35-17 in the home side’s favour.
Playing with the wind at their backs, the Sharks were hammering away at their hosts as they searched for a way back into the match. To a man, however, the Warriors fronted up; an eye-catching tackle from debutant Murphy Walker on Thaakir Abrahams saw the prop cut the winger down in his tracks, as Glasgow refused to budge in.
With six minutes to play, the Sharks eventually breached the defensive line. After Lewis Bean was sent to the sin-bin, replacement prop Ntuthuko Mchunu found a path across the whitewash. Bosch’s conversion cut the gap to once more, with Glasgow holding a 35-24 lead.
There was to be no denying Glasgow the victory this week, though. Marshalled by the experience of Pete Horne off the bench, the hosts closed out the match to ensure all five match points would be going the way of the Warriors. It’ll be a case of aiming for more of the same in just seven days’ time, as the Emirates Lions come to Scotstoun for the first time.
Kick-off 5:30 pm