Glasgow shrugged off a red card a quarter of the way into this match, dug deep into their reserves and produced the outstanding display of the season thus far. What’s more, they did so with a scratch side against quality opposition who had humbled them on their last visit here.
The victory sets the Warriors up nicely for the European double header with Lyon, even if coach Dave Rennie has a few selection headaches after this performance.
“We knew it was going to be tough before the game so playing with 14 was going to be doubly so,” said Rennie. “I thought it was a really positive response. We were very disciplined and our set piece was excellent. It was a massive effort, we were really proud of it.
“That’s the way footy is these days,” Rennie replied when asked about the red card. “You’ve just got to accept that. All you want is consistency and the fact that we are trying to stamp this out of the game I think is a positive.
“We have worked hard on development, creating competition for places. What is pleasing is that, regardless of who we put out there, guys are standing up. We have been consistently good in the last seven or eight games.”
Every Glasgow player enhanced their reputation but it was especially heartwarming to see Tim Swinson back to his uncompromising best after his injury woes. Nick Grigg chopped anything that moved in the midfield and George Turner got the man of the match award despite
fly-half Brandon Thomson claiming 24 of Glasgow’s 29 points.
With 18 minutes on the clock Scarlets lock Jake Ball carted into Glasgow’s Alex Allan. The Warrior prop failed to wrap, he seemed to use his arm to protect himself but still caught Ball in the head. The
lock went for an HIA, never to reappear, Allan followed him off
the pitch, headed for an early bath.
The inconsistency of match officials was then laid bare. Minutes after the red card, Scarlets replacement Lewis Rawlings upended Adam Ashe in midair and the Irish referee gave a penalty for what looked like an obvious yellow card offence. Late in the game Scarlets sub Tom Phillips hit Swinson’s head with his shoulder and got a yellow when his crimes seemed on a par with Allan’s. Murphy’s law in action.
If the red card incensed the Glasgow fans, it seemed to do wonders for the Warriors’ spirits. Oli Kebble came off the bench, Matt Smith the sacrificial lamb, and won a penalty at the very first set scrum, the first of many, which Thomson kicked to double Glasgow’s total.
Fuelled by something, perhaps a sense of grievance, the home side then scored the first try of the match on the half-hour mark. Thomson kicked a penalty into touch five metres out and several plays later the fly-half dummied, backed himself and his right arm was just long enough to stretch for the Scarlets’ try line. The conversion gave Glasgow a 13-3 advantage which they managed to cling on to until the break.
Immediately after the restart Glasgow scored their second try, thanks to Grigg who latched on to a kind bounce from Ruaridh Jackson’s speculative kick ahead before beating everyone to the try line. One minute later Glasgow thought they had repeated the trick with what would have been the try of the season – any season – only to see the score wiped off for a forward pass.
With the home side threatening to leave them stranded the Scarlets woke up and finally held on to the ball long enough for skipper Jon Davies to score their first try on 46 minutes which was followed a little later by Thomson’s third penalty at the other end of the field.
Phillips was shown yellow to even the numbers again but, with Glasgow pressing hard, Davies intercepted on his own goal line and sprinted up the right for Steff Evans to score in the left-hand corner.
When substitute Clayton Blommetjies scored the Scarlets’ third try five minutes from time, Glasgow’s lead was down to six and the natives were getting restless but Thomson stepped up with his fifth penalty of the match to secure a thrilling win.