Glasgow Warriors 19-19 Bath Rugby
Glasgow Warriors completed an unbeaten EPCR Challenge Cup group stage at Scotstoun this evening, despite being held to a frustrating 19-19 draw by Bath under the Friday night lights.
Tries from Matt Fagerson, Sione Vailanu and Sebastian Cancelliere would secure a share of the spoils for the home side, with the two points for a draw enough to book a home tie in the knockout stages.
With the visitors still in the hunt for a knockout place as the match kicked off, it was perhaps no surprise that Bath began the game on the hunt for an early breakthrough. Piers Francis would give them the lead with four minutes played, knocking over a penalty from the 22 after the Warriors were caught offside in midfield.
It would be a lead they would hold for all of two minutes, as the Warriors roared into life. Kyle Steyn’s line break would see the captain beat two defenders on his way to the 22, before a sublime inside ball from Jamie Bhatti would put Fagerson through a gap. The number eight would beat the last man before diving over in front of the West Stand, Tom Jordan converting for a 7-3 lead.
Francis would narrow the gap to a single point on 10 minutes, but it would be the Warriors who would be attacking at every opportunity. Steyn and Cancelliere both continued to look lively, while the twin threat of Sione Tuipulotu and Vailanu would frequently bash holes in the Bath defensive line.
The second try wouldn’t be long in coming, as the home side made their field position count. Successive penalties kicked to touch would allow the Glasgow maul to go to work, with the lattermost drive proving too powerful for the Bath defence to deal with. Vailanu would be the man to emerge with the ball, Jordan converting to extend the Glasgow advantage to 14-6 after 23 minutes.
Back came Bath once more, as the Premiership outfit fought their way back into proceedings as the game approached the half-hour mark. They were rewarded with their first try of the match, with their own power game finding the way through, Cam Redpath’s strong carry took the visitors to within five metres, before Chris Cloete darted over from close range. Francis converted, narrowing the gap to a single point at the half-time break.
The second-half began in explosive fashion, as the Warriors looked to strike first following the interval. A thunderous charge from Tuipulotu saw the centre’s progress halted only by a high tackle from Francis, the Bath fly-half shown a yellow card for his troubles.
Almost immediately, the hosts thought they had made their advantage count, as the subsequent lineout saw another unstoppable maul roll towards the try-line and over the whitewash. However, a late TMO intervention deemed that Johnny Matthews had lost control of the ball in the process of grounding, much to the dismay of the Warrior Nation.
Undeterred, the Warriors would not be denied for long. Momentum in hand, the home side would stretch the Bath defence to breaking point. After a carry from Steyn took out three defenders, swift hands from Tom Jordan and Tuipulotu would send the ever-dangerous Cancelliere over in the corner. The conversion attempt from Jordan drifted just wide, but the Warriors led 19-13 with half an hour to play.
That lead would be cut to three points on 55 minutes, as Orlando Bailey punished Glasgow hands in the ruck from 45 metres to narrow the gap to 19-16. With conditions making for a scrappy affair as the match entered the final quarter, the atmosphere inside Scotstoun would rise another notch as the Warrior Nation urged on their team.
With just six minutes to play, however, the scores would be level. With the referee penalising the Warriors at the scrum, Matt Gallagher’s boot would send the resulting kick through the uprights from a tough angle on the Glasgow 10 metre line, tying the game at 19-19.
Yet there would be one final twist in the tale, as the Warriors were presented with a chance to seal all four points as the clock ticked into the red. Duncan Weir’s kick from long-range would slide agonisingly wide of the right hand upright, leaving the scores level as the final whistle blew.
A disappointing conclusion for Franco Smith’s men, yet a home tie in the last-16 was duly secured; attentions now return to BKT URC action, as the Warriors visit Newport and the Dragons next weekend.