Glasgow Warriors suffer reality check after Leinster triumph 31-15 in URC at Scotstoun

This was a reality check for Danny Wilson’s Warriors. After a positive start which had seen them secure 15 out of a possible 20 league points in the United Rugby Championship, they were a distant second best when they faced a step-up in class against a strong Leinster side.

Glasgow Warrior Jack Dempsey during the United Rugby Championship defeat to Leinster. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

To Warriors’ credit, they kept plugging away until the end and they got a consolation try in the final minute through replacement second-row Lewis Bean – but they were fighting to keep it respectable.

The Autumn Test window now leaves a frustrating five weeks until they have a chance to get this disappointing defeat out of their system with a trip to Benetton on November 27.

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The good news from a Scottish rugby perspective is that there did not appear to be any fresh injury concerns ahead of the internationalists beginning their build-up to next Saturday’s opener against Tonga.

Nick Grigg offloads the ball under pressure. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The hosts found themselves 10 points down inside seven minutes thanks to a Ross Byrne penalty and a converted Ronan Kelleher try, and already it was clear that Warriors were going to struggle to match their opponents’ relentless physicality.

It wasn't all one-way traffic, and a powerful burst from Sione Tuipuloto put Warriors into the Leinster 22 for the first time on 10 minutes, leading to Ross Thompson getting the hosts off the mark with a straight-forward penalty from in front of the sticks.

Warriors then enjoyed a period of pressure but kept coughing up possession when they got inside the strike zone.

Leinster, meanwhile, were ruthless when they next got back on the front foot, building pressure with several powerful phases, then claiming try number two when James Lowe sent Hugo Keenan home.

Some good interplay between Warriors centres Tuipuloto and Sam Johnson put Thompson in a try-scoring position – but he collided with opposite number Keenan as he stretched for the ball and ended up flat on his back.

Referee Craig Evans referred it to the Television Match Official and decided not to award the penalty try – much to the disgust of the Scotstoun crowd.

But the home team did get a penalty from the incident, which meant they could keep the pressure on – and they finally got their reward when Australian No 8 Jack Dempsey muscled over from close-range to make it 17-10 to the visitors at the break.

It took a brilliant last-gasp tackle from Rory Darge to stop a third Leinster score on the left after great work from Keenan with 10 minutes of the second half played.

But it was only a temporary reprieve for the Warriors, and Leinster claimed try number three just two-minutes later when Adam Byrne managed got the ball down under pressure from Johnson.

After another bombardment of the Warriors line, the visitors picked up the bonus point on the hour mark through replacement hooker Dan Sheehan.

Warriors kept plugging away, and McLean did well to put George Horne into space, but Leinster got back to snuff out the threat then snaffle possession.

The fact that a group of home fans in the main stand were trying to initiate a Mexican wave with 15 minutes still to play.

Bean’s last-minute try gave those fans something to celebrate at the end – but it was a muted cheer.

Teams

Glasgow Warriors: R Thompson; K Steyn, S Tuipulotu (N Grigg 71), S Johnson, R McLean; D Weir (C Forbes 56), A Price (G Horne 54); J Bhatti (O Kebble 46), J Matthews (G Turner 41), Z Fagerson (E Pieretto 54), R Harley (L Bean 76), R Gray, R Wilson, R Darge (M Fagerson 63), R Wilson.

Leinster: H Keenan; A Byrne, G Ringrose (J Osborne, 70), C Frawley, J Lowe; R Byrne, L McGrath (J Gibson-Park, 63); C Healy (E Byrne 54), R Kelleher (D Sheehan 54), T Furlong (M Ala’alatoa 54), R Molony, R Baird ( D Toner 50), C Doris (R Ruddock 67), D Leavy (J van der Flier 50), J Conan.

Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)

Scorers

Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Demspey, Bean; Con: Thompson; Pen: Thompson.

Leinster: Tries: Kelleher, Keenan, A Byrne, Sheehan; Cons: R Byrne 4; Pen: R Byrne

Yellow cards

Leinster: Conan (37mins), Gibson-Park (79mins)