Glasgow’s winning start to the season hit the buffers yesterday evening in the West Country when Exeter Chiefs muscled the Warriors to a standstill, but only after the visitors had raced into a early 10-0 lead.
This match had a clear pattern. Glasgow struggled to make much headway in the face of a stout Exeter defence so they kicked downfield, not always very well, and Exeter worked their way back until either someone spilled the ball or Glasgow conceded one of the many penalties they coughed up throughout the match.
Exeter kicked for the corner, the big men used their strength and once inside the Glasgow red zone the home team reverted to a simple but effective pick and drive game. The Chiefs fielded a little more beef on the hoof and managed to force their way over the Glasgow try line three times for three tries, the last coming just minutes from time to give a lopsided look to the final score.
The opening exchanges were harum scarum with Finn Russell making two early errors, sending his kick off dead before having a kick charged down. The visitors were expected to come under the cosh at the set scrum, and so they did on occasion, but at the second scrum Glasgow kept the ball and milked a penalty to silence the crowd.
Three nil up, Glasgow ignored a second kickable penalty and went to the corner. Exeter challenged Ryan Wilson in the air as he rose for the ball and, with a penalty advantage in their back pocket, Russell aimed a hopeful cross field at Tommy Seymour. The winger didn’t disappoint, rising above his marker to score the opening try. Russell’s conversion gave Glasgow a ten point advantage after as many minutes.
Exeter needed to score next and they did. Glasgow indiscipline allowed the Chiefs to kick to the corner and umpteen phases later tighthead prop Harry Williams burrowed over the Glasgow line from point blank range.
Glasgow then allowed the classy centre Henry Slade far too much time and space and the English international took full advantage, slicing his way to within sight of the Glasgow line.
On the back foot again Glasgow again conceded soft penalties, Exeter kicked to the corner and this time lock Jonny Hill forced his way past the Glasgow defenders to grab Exeter’s second score. Gareth Steenson did the needful with Exeter edging 14-10 ahead just ahead of the half hour mark.
Glasgow managed some nice touches throughout but never enough to claim they were robbed. Ruaridh Jackson had one good run from full-back and his clever chip almost opened up the field for Peter Horne but with support unmarked on his inside shoulder, the centre tried to pass to Lee Jones on the wing and it was intercepted smartly by Henry Slade.
Steenson opened the second half with his first penalty of the match but the Warriors quickly scored their second try and it came from turnover ball which was moved quickly left. Russell put boot to ball and tackled Nic White over the try line as the scrum half bent for the ball with Jones first to react. The crowd screamed that Russell had tackled the man off the ball but the TMO was happy to let the score stand.
Both teams had their moments, Exeter rather more than Glasgow, but it remained a two point game as the clock entered the final quarter with the usual swarm of substitutes.
The match was in the balance right up until the final few minutes. Exeter had one last attacking opportunity when replacement Niko Matawalu fielded a ball with a foot in touch (replays showed he had lifted it before touching the ball) and for the third time in the match Exeter big men barrelled their way to the try line, Sam Simmonds claiming this late score that robbed Glasgow of a bonus point.