Sebastian Cancelliere crossed in the first half for GlasgowUnited Rugby Championship: Glasgow Warriors v LeinsterGlasgow Warriors (24) 43Tries: McKay, Cancelliere, Jones, Fraser, G Horne, Matthews, Penalty Cons: Jordan (2), G HorneLeinster (13) 25Tries: Boyle, Barron, O’Brien Cons: Byrne (2) Pens: Byrne (2)
Glasgow Warriors started their URC campaign with a hugely impressive seven-try win over Leinster at Scotstoun.
Josh McKay, Sebastian Cancelliere, Huw Jones and Angus Fraser all crossed for Warriors in the first half, with two Harry Byrne penalties and a Jack Boyle try keeping Leinster in touch.
The Irish side improved after the break and closed the gap to just four points as Lee Barron and Tommy O’Brien crossed either side of George Horne’s try.
However, Johnny Matthews powered over to give Glasgow breathing space before a late penalty try put the icing on the cake.
- Reaction and as it happened
Given that Glasgow had seven World Cup players back in the bosom of their squad and Leinster didn’t have any of theirs, the home side were always heavily fancied to win this.
Leinster travelled with a mixture of gnarled old pros and a battalion of seriously promising youngsters. They put it up to their hosts all day long in what turned into a see-sawing, try-laden thriller.
For a campaign opener, it was a terrific contest that Glasgow deserved to win but had to work ferociously hard to achieve. They only put it to bed with five minutes left when substitute Matthews piled over.
The hooker has been living the dream this past while. Married in the summer, a World Cup call-up just after, a Scotland debut and a first international try and now in his first game back a critical score in a Glasgow career full of tries.
The Warriors got their show on the road in the 13th minute with lineout ball off the top and a Rory Darge blast through the tackle of Charlie Ngatai. The flanker hit the deck but was back up in a flash to run away and feed McKay. Jordan’s conversion got Glasgow off to a flier.
It went a touch pear-shaped for a brief spell after that. Byrne banged over two penalties and even after more terrific work in open country from their back-row – Gregor Brown, this time – set up a try for Cancelliere down the right wing, Leinster struck back and took the lead.
Glasgow survived intense late pressure to secure an opening win
They had precious little ball at that point but what they had, they made the most of. A sustained battering at the Glasgow door saw the young and highly regarded prop Boyle going over. With the extras from Byrne, the visitors had a lead that was somewhat bamboozling given the flow of the game.
It didn’t last long. Just after the half hour, from an advancing scrum, Glasgow looked to have lost control when the ball went loose. Stafford McDowall hacked it downfield, Jones was the most alert man in Scotstoun and he took control and galloped away to score. Glasgow led by six.
The margin increased when Glasgow executed one of the close-range lineouts that they failed with earlier. A big rumble was too much for Leinster, Fraser becoming the latest Glasgow hooker to benefit from the excellence of their maul.
It was an 11-point game and it stayed that way despite waves of Leinster pressure at the end of the half. Three times they were awarded penalties and three times they tapped and drove. Glasgow’s defence repelled them. Darge brought an end to it with an important turnover.
Glasgow had the lead and the bonus point, but they couldn’t quite shake off Leinster. Having been denied at the end of the first half they made one stick at the beginning of the second. More pressure in the Glasgow 22, a maul seemingly going nowhere but then Barron, the replacement hooker, saw the space in front of him and made the most of it. Byrne’s conversion made it a four-point game.
The visitors grew in confidence, especially when they arrived back in the Glasgow 22 and asked the kind of question that saw Cancelliere binned after a deliberate knock-on. Suddenly, things didn’t seem so clever for the Warriors. Boyle got over the line but was held up. It was all getting pretty sweaty.
Glasgow’s capacity to create something from nothing stretched the lead out again. Ultimately, that improvisation was the winning of the match. In the beginning it was all about Jones brilliantly gathering a chip ahead and then it was about Greg Peterson who was in support to take the pass and offload to Horne, who sped away to the corner.
On his 100th appearance, Horne had just come on as a substitute. The perfect impact man to have when things are going a little awry and you’re down in numbers. He missed the conversion but Glasgow had a nine-point buffer.
Leinster wouldn’t go away. They dominated the final quarter, most of it playing out in the Glasgow 22 and a chunk of it happening in a frenzied phases on their own line.
Liam Turner was just about put in touch by McDowall, the officials taking an eternity to make an extremely tight call. More and more Leinster heat followed. Glasgow’s defence kept them out once and twice, but not three times.
Leinster went wide and with seven minutes left, they worked a fine try for O’Brien on the right wing. Back we went to a four-point game, but Glasgow snuffed the visitors out from there with a tumultuous finish.
Matthews sealed it for Glasgow late on and a penalty try a minute from time – while Leinster were down to 14 after Jordan Larmour’s yellow – made it an 18-point victory.
What they said
Glasgow head coach Franco Smith: “It was a classic start-of-the-season game,” he said on Viaplay. “We made lots of errors, but if you don’t try you won’t get better. Excited to start the season with a win, and I’m pleased with the defensive resilience.
“Very excited to see [youngsters] taking their opportunity. They stepped up tonight and learned a couple of lessons.
“[George Horne] is a special guy, he works really hard, he’s got a great influence on the team and he’s a fantastic man. His try was something to remember.”
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen: “It’s first game of the season so we know both teams are probably going to be off in some areas,” he said on Viaplay.
“Glasgow were pretty clinical. We had lots of chances, so it’s a little bit deflating. We got it back to 24-20 but couldn’t quite get over for another score at that stage.
“We gave away a few tries at the end which take the game away from us.”
Glasgow: McKay, Cancelliere, Jones, McDowall, Steyn (capt), Jordan, Dobie; Kebble, Fraser, Z Fagerson, Peterson, Cummings, Brown, Darge, Venter.
Replacements: Matthews, McBeth, Sordoni, Samuel, Miller, Gordon, Horne, Weir.
Leinster: Frawley, O’Brien, Turner, Ngatai, Larmour, Byrne, McGrath; Boyle, McKee, Clarkson, Molony, Jenkins, Deegan, Penny (capt), Culhane.
Replacements: Barron, P McCarthy, McGuire, Deeny, Ruddock, Foley, Prendergast, Connors.