Glasgow Warriors win in Inverness but Ayrshire Bulls put up real fight

Glasgow Warriors got the Franco Smith era off to a winning start in Inverness on Friday night, but they had to fight until the last gasp against an Ayrshire Bulls side who stayed the pace remarkably well, only losing 22-17.

Glasgow Warriors' Ryan Wilson is tackled during a pre-season friendly match against Ayrshire Bulls at the Caldonian Stadium.
Glasgow Warriors' Ryan Wilson is tackled during a pre-season friendly match against Ayrshire Bulls at the Caldonian Stadium.

The match looked in the bag for the Warriors when they went 22-3 up around the 60-minute mark, but two late tries for the Super6 champions briefly put the issue in doubt. Smith was relatively pleased with aspects of his team’s display in the first of their two pre-season games, but was also impressed by their opponents.

“I must compliment them for bringing the fight to us,” he said. “I said to our boys that they helped us a lot. We needed this hit out and a bit of contact. The effort they put in actually helped.

“It’s a starting point, and you’ve got to see it in context,” he said of his own team. “There was some really good stuff - just on the attack side of things we didn’t finish our opportunities in the first half and it became a little bit unravelled.”

After a lacklustre first half-hour in which the Warriors slowly gained the upper hand, Johnny Matthews gave them the lead with an unconverted try from a lineout drive.

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The Bulls narrowed the gap two minutes before half-time with a 40-metre penalty from Richie Simpson, but Glasgow hit back immediately with their second try, finished off between the posts by George Horne after a rapid counter-attack. Stand-off Domingo Miotti had missed the first conversion attempt, but he was on target this time to make it 12-3 at the break.

The Warriors stayed on top after the break, and increased their lead after 45 minutes through another lineout drive, this time finished off by Fraser Brown. Joel Hodgson had taken over the kicking duties, but his attempt on goal went wide.

Just before the hour mark, Jack Dempsey got Glasgow’s fourth try of the night, again unconverted, finishing off from close range after a break down the right by Stafford McDowall.

The Bulls hit back with those two tries in the dying minutes, from Jamie Drummond and Will Hunt, who converted both.

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The Warriors’ second friendly is against Ulster at Scotstoun next Friday. Their first URC game is away to Benetton a week later.