Glasgow Warriors 20-9 DHL Stormers
Glasgow Warriors married sharp attack with resolute defence under the Friday night lights at Scotstoun, as the Warrior Nation roared their side to a 20-9 victory over the DHL Stormers.
A brace of tries from Johnny Matthews and a score from Sione Tuipulotu in a Player of the Match-winning display saw the home side earn the points in a hard-fought encounter, as Franco Smith’s men returned to winning ways in the BKT United Rugby Championship.
As the smoke from early fireworks disappeared from Scotstoun, both sides looked to suss out their opponents in the early stages. An overthrown lineout presented Johnny Matthews with an early charge, whilst Sebastian Cancelliere was inches away from collecting Stafford McDowall’s cross-field kick with 10 minutes on the clock.
The Argentinian was even closer just three minutes later, his line break and dummy sending him into the Stormers 22. The final pass would just elude George Horne on the shoulder, though, and the visitors would breathe a sigh of relief in defence.
Instead, it would be the Stormers who would register the first points of the game as the clock ticked past 20 minutes, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu making no mistake with a long-range penalty after Glasgow were penalised for holding on.
It took Franco Smith’s men all of four minutes to reply. From a five-metre scrum, Horne’s pass invited McDowall to charge at the line, the captain then producing a deft pass to Tuipulotu on his shoulder. Over went the centre without a finger laid on him, Horne converting for a 7-3 lead.
Feinberg-Mngomezulu would narrow the gap to one on 27 minutes, only for the Warriors to hit immediately back. Cancelliere’s chase and charge-down from the restart would force Leolin Zas to carry into touch, and from the resulting lineout Glasgow’s power was too much for the visitors. It would be the familiar figure of Matthews to dot down, Horne’s conversion falling just short from the touchline to leave the score at 12-6 in favour of the home side.
Glasgow were beginning to find their groove, with McDowall and Tuipulotu finding their familiar connection in midfield and Sione Vailanu bursting through breakdowns with aplomb. Horne was on target from the tee to extend Glasgow’s lead yet further on 34 minutes, bisecting the uprights with a penalty for a 15-6 advantage.
A high tackle in halfway would present Feinberg-Mngomezulu with three more points to add to his – and his team’s – tally, yet the Stormers’ indiscipline would cost them as the first half drew to a close. First Evan Roos, then Joseph Dweba would see yellow for dangerous play, and Glasgow would waste no time in taking full advantage. Once more the maul would prove lethal, trundling fully 15 metres before a sprinting Matthews dashed his final few metres to the whitewash. The conversion would drift wide, but Glasgow were in the ascendency with a 20-9 lead at the interval.
The Stormers would escape any further punishment while undermanned, and were almost the first to trouble the scorers in the second stanza after Jean-Luc du Plessis split the defence. Only an excellent cover tackle around the breakdown by Zander Fagerson would halt the visiting attack, much to the delight of the Warrior Nation.
Still the visitors would come forward, now restored to their full compliment of players, yet still the Glasgow defence would hold firm. Vailanu would be the man to prevent a Stormers score on 57 minutes, the Tongan getting under the ball-carrier to a roar of approval from the West Stand.
Vailanu would almost bring the stadium to its feet once more just five minutes later, the number eight charging through and almost freeing Horne into open space. The big man was back on defensive duty just moments later, clamping onto the ball inside his own 22 for a turnover penalty celebrated as loudly as a score.
As the clock ticked towards full-time, the visitors charged one final time in pursuit of the breakthrough that would secure them the losing bonus-point. Yet once more Glasgow’s defence was unyielding; one final turnover under their own posts saw the ball booted into the West Stand, the win secured for those in black.
A return to winning ways for the Warriors, and a 17th successive BKT URC regular-season victory at Scotstoun; an eight-day turnaround now awaits ahead of a trip to the Ospreys next weekend, before returning home to face Benetton in a fortnight’s time.