Ospreys 23-31 Glasgow Warriors
Glasgow Warriors held firm in the face of a late Ospreys fightback to earn a first away win of the 2023/24 season this evening, as a four-try showing in Swansea saw Franco Smith’s side claim a bonus-point 31-23 victory over the Welshmen.
A brace from Player of the Match Johnny Matthews, plus scores from Sione Vailanu and Allan Dell – his first for the club – mean that the visitors would take all five points back up the road to Scotstoun.
In front of a vocal home support, it would be the Ospreys who would make the fastest start. Successive penalties saw Jack Walsh march his team into the Glasgow 22, and while the Warriors would initially defend the short-range maul well, Kieran Williams would react quickest to a loose ball to dive over for the score. Walsh added the extras, giving his side a 7-0 lead with just five minutes played.
Stafford McDowall was just a couple of metres away from responding with virtually the next passage of play, with only a neck roll and the subsequent concession of a penalty halting Glasgow progress. Meanwhile, only the bounce of the ball would deny Mat Protheroe at the other end, the Ospreys winger’s kick ahead just an inch too far for him to ground and score.
Walsh would extend the home side’s lead with a penalty on 24 minutes, as the game settled into a cagey yet competitive pattern in the midfield. Even with Weir sent to the sin-bin, the Warriors would manage the 10-minute spell well, McDowall and Sione Tuipulotu marshalling the midfield defence with calm expertise.
With momentum in their favour, the Warriors would strike just two minutes to play in the half. Restored to the field, Weir’s touch-finder from a scrum penalty on halfway would find touch just seven metres from the line, and from there the maul would go to work. Ever the expert finisher, Matthews would tuck himself away at the back of the maul and rumble over, Weir’s conversion making it a 10-7 scoreline at the interval.
Never content with merely being back in touch, Franco Smith’s men would waste no time in grabbing the lead just three minutes after the restart. Another superb touch-finder from Weir would take his side from halfway to within 15 metres, and once more Matthews would be the ultimate beneficiary. Weir’s conversion was inch-perfect, giving the Warriors a 14-10 advantage.
Keen to make the most of their ascendency, Glasgow would go straight back on the attack, almost crossing for their third score with their very next attack. McDowall’s kick through almost sat up perfectly for Tuipulotu, with Max Nagy having to scramble the clearing kick to touch.
It would be a short-lived reprieve for the hosts, though. The maul would do the damage yet again, splintering the Ospreys defence enough to allow Vailanu to barge his way over from five metres out and dot down. Weir would make it three from three from the tee, and the visitors led 21-10.
Walsh would narrow the gap with a penalty from 15 metres on 55 minutes, and that kick would spark the fightback from the hosts. Just moments later, the Ospreys supporters were cheering their second try, as turnover ball and a chip ahead from Luke Morgan saw Reuben Morgan-Williams get the bounce of the ball and dive over. A review from the TMO ruled that the scrum-half had just stayed on the right side of the offside line, Walsh converting to make it a one-point game as play entered the final quarter.
With just seven minutes remaining, the Ospreys would retake the lead once more. A 50-50 call at the breakdown would go the way of the hosts, Walsh holding his nerve from 25 metres to give his side a 23-21 lead.
Yet in the face of a home crowd roaring their side forward, the Warriors kept their own nerve. A thundering carry from McDowall forced the Ospreys to infringe at the ruck, and from fully 45 metres on the angle Weir’s aim was true to put his side back in front.
The coup de grace was yet to come, too. With another penalty dispatched to the corner and the clock in the red, Smith’s men would set about making sure the full five points would be coming back to Glasgow. Dell was the man to apply the finishing touch, smuggling himself over from all of a metre out to spark celebrations on the sidelines, Weir converting to take the final score to 31-23 in favour of the Warriors.
A result forged by digging deep and holding firm on the road – a return home to face high-flying Benetton now awaits at Scotstoun next weekend.