Glasgow 10-23 Leinster: Warriors can’t sustain bright start

After a bright start, Glasgow Warriors lost their way at about the half-hour mark and were lucky in the end not to have lost by more.

Ruaridh Jackson on the charge. The Glasgow Warriors full-back scored two tries and could have had a third. Picture: Gary Hutchison / SNS
Ruaridh Jackson on the charge. The Glasgow Warriors full-back scored two tries and could have had a third. Picture: Gary Hutchison / SNS

Both teams had made sweeping changes to their starting XVs for this one – with one eye clearly trained on Europe next week – and Leinster’s superior strength in depth was made abundantly apparent, especially during the second half, when they may have scored only six points through the trusty boot of Ross Byrne but dominated both territory and possession.

This result extends Leinster’s winning start to the campaign to seven straight matches and sets them up nicely for their Northampton Saints encounter next weekend. Warriors, meanwhile, are way back in fourth place in the Conference A of the Pro14, 18 points behind Leinster and six points adrift of Toyota Cheetahs who are currently in the final play-off place.

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Glasgow had a very good case for a penalty try in the third minute when Sam Johnson broke up the middle of the park and then sent Huw Jones chasing his grubber into the corner. The Warriors centre was taken out by Leinster full-back Hugo Keenan as he tried to gather just a few yards short of the line, but while referee Craig Evans agreed there was a push which merited a yellow card, he was not convinced that Jones was going to be able to scoop up the ball so did not award the instant seven points.

It was a marginal call but didn’t end up being a major talking point because the home side kept their foot on the accelerator and, just a few minutes later, Ruaridh Jackson was taking advantage of the extra man to scuttle over on the right.

The hosts then had a golden opportunity to extend their lead when Johnson released Niko Matawalu on the left wing, but the Fijian winger fumbled the ball with the line at his mercy, and when play was called back for an earlier penalty Peter Horne missed the three fairly straightforward points which were on offer.

Leinster, meanwhile, were deadly when they got a chance. They pulled it back to a two-point game when Aki Seiuli – just a few minutes after replacing a groggy Oli Kebble at loose-head prop – was penalised for a high tackle on Will Connors and Ross Byrne kicked the goal.

Glasgow scored again when Johnson broke from midfield and some good driving play from the home forwards sucked in Leinster’s defence before Ali Price’s long, flat pass sent Jackson in for his second try. But it was Leinster who finished the half on the front foot, with winger Cian Kelleher helping himself to two tries on the right in the space of just three minutes, and Byrne nailing both conversions to make it 10-17 at the turnaround.

Warriors were first to flash their teeth at the start of the second half, when Ryan Wilson did well to offload from the deck but Matawalu lost his footing as he tried to bamboozle the last man.

Leinster, though, controlled possession and territory for almost all of the second period. Ross Byrne slotted two more penalties to ease his side out of reach. There was a late rally from Warriors, and Jackson came close to claiming his hat-trick, but was swallowed up by a huge tackle from Fergus McFadden, which dislodged the ball and left the Glasgow full-back squirming in pain.

Jonny Gray also went close when he squirmed out of a tackle but the big second-row was held up over the line by a combination of Ross Maloney and Jack Aungier, which was a final demonstration of Leinster’s unyielding competitiveness – as if any proof was needed.