Glasgow Warriors denied by TMO as famous Sandy Park win slips away

Glasgow’s decade-long wait for a victory at Sandy Park goes on but only after they were controversially denied what would have been a winning try in the dying embers of their Investec Champions Cup pool match against Exeter Chiefs yesterday afternoon.
Glasgow Warriors' George Horne drops the ball during the Investec Champions Cup match at Sandy Park, Exeter.  (Picture: Steven Paston/PA Wire)Glasgow Warriors' George Horne drops the ball during the Investec Champions Cup match at Sandy Park, Exeter.  (Picture: Steven Paston/PA Wire)
Glasgow Warriors' George Horne drops the ball during the Investec Champions Cup match at Sandy Park, Exeter. (Picture: Steven Paston/PA Wire)

Trailing by two points, Warriors twice had the ball over the line in the closing minutes only for both tries to be ruled out by the French match officials.

If there was little grumbling about the call to chalk off Stafford McDowall’s score for an earlier knock-on then there was a far greater commotion after Euan Ferrie was denied his first ever try for the club in the cruellest of fashion.

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With the clock in the red and Exeter having the put-in at the scrum, Glasgow’s cause looked forlorn. George Horne’s pressure on his opposite number, however, kept the ball alive and when Ross Vincent then tried to kick for touch, Ferrie was alert to it, fastening on to the loose ball and burrowing over the line for what would have undoubtedly been a career highlight for the 22 year-old.

Instead, Warriors joy quickly turned to heartache. The TMO pored over the footage before arriving at the decision that the blindside replacement had broken his bind too early.

The try was ruled out and Exeter had the win that carries them into the last 16 of the competition.

Glasgow will look to join them there but will now likely need to defeat old nemesis Toulon – their opponents in last year’s Challenge Cup final – at Scotstoun on Friday if they are to progress.

This is a venue with few happy memories for Warriors, who were well thrashed on their two previous visits to this southwest corner of England. If anything, though, this loss would have been more painful, especially given the Warriors held the lead right until the 77th minute of the match.

Duncan Weir was looking lively in a rare start and when he was stopped only by a head-on-head challenge by Greg Fisilau it looked a near-certainty that the home side would play the remaining 70 minutes with just 14 players. The officials, however, decided the No.8’s offence merited only a yellow card, another dose of good fortune for Exeter.

Matt Fagerson was making his first appearance since recovering from injury and looked determined to make up for lost time, the groans echoing around the stands every time Exeter were thwarted. That frustration only grew louder when Warriors landed the first try of the game after 28 minutes in fortuitous fashion, adding to an early Horne penalty.

Ben Hammersley made a hash of trying to deal with Horne’s kick up the park, sclaffing a pass straight into the hands of Kyle Rowe who dashed over for his first ever Champions Cup score. Weir, back on the field after passing his HIA, knocked over a simple conversion.

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Exeter, buoyed by a number of Glasgow handling errors, belatedly started to show themselves as an attacking force late in the opening period. The visitors did well to withstand a sustained buffeting but the pressure finally told as man-of-the-match Jacques Vermeulen took advantage of a mismatch with Rowe before planting the ball down. Henry Slade’s conversion made it a three-point game at the break.

Sloppy play had been the prevalent theme early in the second half before Glasgow extended their lead with a stunning try. Scott Cummings got them going with a thundering run up the park, before Horne passed wide to McKay who in turn found Sione Tuipulotu. There was still work for the stand-in captain to do but be burst through a tackle to touch down. Weir made a terrific conversion to stretch the lead to 10 points.

Exeter, though, were never likely to capitulate and landed a second score of their own. Again it stemmed from an extended period of residence just outside the Glasgow line, Warriors making block after block before Dan Frost found a way to squirt through. Slade, surprisingly, couldn’t convert.

Glasgow were wobbling at this point and it looked like Exeter had drawn level not long afterwards when Zack Wimbush slid over the line after a clever cross-field pass from Lewis Pearson. The TMO, though, ruled out the try due to a knock-on earlier in the move.

Wimbush, however, wouldn’t be denied three minutes from time when Exeter Chiefs worked the ball wide from the scrum and the replacement rumbled over. Slade’s conversion gave Rob Baxter’s side the lead with two minutes to play but the real drama was still to unfold.