Glasgow Warriors 17-24 Brython Thunder

Glasgow Warriors 17-24 Brython Thunder

A herculean effort was ultimately not enough for Glasgow Warriors in their final home match of the 2023/24 Celtic Challenge, as Chris Laidlaw’s squad were edged out 24-17 at the hands of Brython Thunder at Scotstoun.

Tries from Claudia McLaren and Roma Fraser – her third in two matches – were to prove in vain, the Warrior Nation rising to acclaim their team on the full-time whistle after having watched them give everything on the pitch.

On an historic afternoon for Glasgow Warriors, it was the home side that gave the supporters something to cheer early on. A lightning-quick break from debutant Coreen Grant took the Warriors from inside their own half up to the Thunder 22, and when the Welsh outfit drifted offside, Lucy MacRae was on hand to thump the ball through the uprights for a 3-0 lead after as many minutes.

With a host of Welsh internationals in their starting XV, however, the Thunder quickly hit back. Sustained pressure inside the Glasgow 22 – coupled with some quick thinking – saw Sionaid Harries manage to touch the ball down for the game’s opening score, Mollie Wilkinson adding the conversion to make it 7-3 to the visitors after 10 minutes of play.

Undeterred, the Warriors would continue to keep the intensity high on both sides of the ball. Roma Fraser and Grant each looked lively with ball in hand, whilst Sophie Anderson and Holland Bogan led the line in defence in the face of the Thunder attack.

Despite having a minority of possession, though, it would be the Thunder who would be next to trouble the scorers. From a short-range lineout the Welsh maul would get rolling, Rosie Carr eventually getting the ball down under pressure from the Glasgow defence. The conversion went astray, but the visitors held a 12-3 advantage after the opening half an hour.

Yet once more the Warriors looked to play; another livewire break from Grant saw the Scotland flyer race from her own 22 to halfway, before Bogan’s perfectly-timed line saw the flanker cut through midfield and charge into Thunder territory.

Glasgow would come ever closer in the final minute of the half, a quick tap penalty from Bogan and a short-range charge from Nikki Simpson denied only by cynical play from Meg Webb. The Thunder centre would see yellow for her indiscretion, as Glasgow finished the first half on the front foot and with the numerical advantage.

It took all of four minutes for Glasgow to make their advantage count at the start of the second period. Great line speed in defence forced the Thunder into an error, and when McLaren picked up the loose ball 40 metres from the try-line there was no stopping the centre. The Stirling County midfielder raced home to a chorus of cheers from the Warrior Nation, MacRae adding the conversion to make it a two-point ball-game.

Back came the Thunder, however, just seconds before Webb returned to the field. Again it was the short-range power game that would prove effective, Shona Wakely making the crucial final metre for the try. Wilkinson added the extras as the rain continued to fall, making it 19-10 after 49 minutes.

The Welsh squad were enjoying a purple patch with ball in hand, and the visitors would strike again on 58 minutes. Phase upon phase of possession stretched the Glasgow defence enough for Webb to pick her line and crash over, the conversion drifting wide to make it 24-10 to the Thunder.

Glasgow were in no mood to roll over, however. MacRae’s superb solo break took the full-back to within five metres, and when the Thunder transgressed the Warriors elected to go to the corner. With advantage in hand, Ceitidh Ainsworth’s cross-kick was inch-perfect, sitting up for Fraser to collect and race over the whitewash for a try roared to the rafters. MacRae’s conversion was pinpoint from out wide, narrowing the gap to 24-17 as the game entered the final 15 minutes.

The Warriors were on the front foot as the clock ticked towards the 80-minute mark, going closer and closer as they searched for a game-tying score. Another charge from the irrepressible Bogan took the hosts to within five metres, whilst McLaren was inches away from a brace with two minutes to play.

In the end, however, it would be the Thunder who would hold on. A losing bonus-point would prove scant consolation for the home side, yet a battling performance full of the Warrior spirit epitomised what it means to be a part of the club – and a fitting tribute to the clubs that made the Warriors on Club of Origin night.

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