Glasgow Warriors forced to defend for their lives as Danny Wilson’s men earn first win of season
Danny Wilson was able to celebrate his first game at Scotstoun as Glasgow coach with a victory, but only after seeing his team withstand what would have been a calamitous collapse to cling on for a 20-7 win.
Ahead 20-0 and a man up too after Scarlets lock Sam Lousi was sent off, the Warriors should have been pressing on in search of a bonus point. Instead, they ended up a man down when first Richie Gray and then Nick Grigg was sinbinned, and they had to defend for their lives to make sure of their first win of the season.
There was no sign of the drama that was to come during a scoreless first quarter in which the only scoring chance was a missed Adam Hastings penalty. The stand-off got it right second time just before the half-hour, and although he missed a subsequent effort, those three penalties were an indication that the Warriors were steadily imposing themselves on Scarlets.
They made the pressure count seven minutes before the break when Oli Kebble crossed the line, finishing off from close range after a powerful surge by Ratu Tagive. Hastings added the two points.
Scarlets should have got off the mark through a Leigh Halfpenny penalty with two minutes of the half to play, but the normally deadly full-back made a poor contact and missed. A 10-0 half-time deficit was scant recompense for all their effort and invention, but their hopes of redressing the balance took a blow three minutes after the restart when their lock Lousi was red-carded for a dangerously high tackle on Tagive, who failed an HIA and did not re-emerge. Blade Thomson also went off with an arm injury, but otherwise there was nothing of immediate concern for Scotland coach Gregor Townsend, who announces his squad for the autumn internationals today.
Glasgow wasted little time in making their advantage count, and a couple of minutes later, following a tap penalty, Ryan Wilson finished off. Hastings made it 17-0, and, with the penalty count beginning to mount against the Welsh pack, soon extended that to 20.
Scarlets were not finished, though, and Samson Lee marked his 150th appearance with a try from a few metres out to give them a glimmer of hope. Converted by Halfpenny, that score was a reminder to Glasgow that they still had some work to do, and ideally a bonus point to collect.
A Tommy Seymour break came close to creating try No 3 and ending the game, but Scarlets denied the winger then went on to dominate the rest of the match. The referee had warned Glasgow that they were running the risk of a yellow card, but they did not heed that warning, and Gray then Grigg went to the bin as a result. The 14 men were suddenly up against 13, and they threatened to make an improbable comeback right to the end. They were thwarted, however, by two key moments in the closing stages, first when Steff Evans lost the ball as he tried to score in the corner, and then when Hastings pulled off an audacious interception close to his own line.
Wilson said: “First of all, really pleased. That’s a strong Scarlets team with a lot of top players in there. Getting a first win at home was important to us. I think looking at the game for 50, 55 minutes, we completely dominated. But what we’ve got to learn is [that in] the last section of the game we lost our discipline a little bit again, which can allow sides to get back into the game. As a team our defence was really good in terms of collision, and our 9 and 10 were outstanding in terms of game management."
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