Harlequins 28-24 Glasgow Warriors

Harlequins 28-24 Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow Warriors saw their Investec Champions Cup campaign come to an end in London this evening, as Franco Smith’s men were edged out 28-24 by Harlequins under the Friday night lights.

Tries from Scott Cummings, Johnny Matthews and George Horne were ultimately in vain, a try four minutes from time securing the win for the home side.

With a vocal Warrior Nation at full volume as the pre-game pyrotechnics flared, their side ensured that the early roars would belong to Glasgow. A crushing carry from Sione Tuipulotu off the lineout gave Kyle Steyn the space to race into the 22, the Glasgow pack then taking over. Jack Dempsey’s thunderous charge almost saw the back-rower over the whitewash, before Cummings made the final carry to get the ball down. George Horne added the extras and Glasgow led 7-0 with just two minutes on the clock.

Stung by the early concession, the home side duly set about in search of a response. The Glasgow defence would initially hold firm in the face of repeat phases of Harlequins pressure, however, Kyle Rowe doing enough to force the error from Cadan Murley as the Englishman flew towards the corner.

The hosts would eventually find their way over the whitewash on 23 minutes, though, Marcus Smith making the most of a penalty advantage to send a cross-kick into the hands of Andre Esterhuizen. The big centre dived over in the corner for the score, Smith converting from the touchline to level the scores.

By now it was Harlequins that were enjoying the majority of pressure and territory, referee Tual Tranini rewarding their pressure with penalties. One too many transgressions from a Warrior saw Tuipulotu sent to the sin-bin with 32 minutes gone, and the hosts took immediate advantage. With the Glasgow defence sprinting to cover, Smith would step inside and dive over next to the uprights, converting his own score to put his side in front.

It would get better for Harlequins with the final play of the half, with Smith again at the forefront. The fly-half’s switch of play and flat pass sent Murley over out wide with the clock in the red, Smith’s conversion making it 21-7 to the home side as the half-time whistle sounded.

Roared on by the Warrior Nation, it was Glasgow who came out of the tunnel firing on all cylinders at the start of the second stanza. Steyn continued to cause problems whenever in possession, whilst Josh McKay’s chip and chase forced Tyrone Green to carry over his own try-line.

It was from that field position that Franco Smith’s men struck. After Harlequins were penalised for not rolling away, Tom Jordan’s kick to the corner allowed the maul to go to work. Some outstanding graft from the pack allowed the familiar figure of Matthews to dive over the whitewash for the score, Horne converting to narrow the deficit.

Glasgow weren’t done yet, though. Stafford McDowall’s break from his own half put the Warriors on the front foot, before swift hands from Tuipulotu and McKay found Jamie Dobie out wide. The replacement winger showed great co-ordination to flick the ball up into his own hands off the boot, beat his man and send Steyn racing clear, fending off Alex Dombrandt on route. The ever-present figure of Horne was on his shoulder, taking the scoring pass from his skipper and diving over to send the Warrior Nation into rapture. With the conversion soon to follow, the scores were tied and momentum was with the Warriors heading into the final quarter.

Momentum would soon translate into the lead as the clock ticked past the hour mark, the forwards once more stepping up. Matthews and Zander Fagerson did the damage in the loose, and when Harlequins were penalised for not rolling away, Horne slotted the penalty from 30 metres to give his side a 24-21 lead.

With Joe Marler sent to the sin bin for a headshot on Rory Darge, the Warriors went in search of a crucial score. Yet the Harlequins defence held firm, and when the home side earned a crucial turnover inside their own 22, the Stoop faithful raised the roof.

Instead, the critical intervention came with four minutes remaining, and it would go the way of the hosts. A close-range lineout battle eventually saw Sam Riley smuggled over for the score, Smith’s conversion taking the score to 28-24, a lead the hosts held until the final whistle.

The Warrior Nation rose to acclaim their side at full time, recognising the effort that their team had poured into every action on the field. A weekend’s break now follows, before a return to BKT United Rugby Championship action at Scotstoun in a fortnight as the club Plasters It Purple against the Hollywoodbets Sharks.


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