London Scottish 19-38 Glasgow, Exiles dominate second half

AT HALF-TIME in this game, Gregor Townsend was basking in the warm glow of a job well done, comfortable in the knowledge that his side was well set for the arrival of Pro12 Champions Leinster on Saturday.

Peter Murchie opened the scoring for the Glasgow Warriors. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Peter Murchie opened the scoring for the Glasgow Warriors. Picture: Ian Rutherford

His team had bossed the first 40 minutes with ruthless efficiency, scored four tries and kept their line intact. The glow disappeared with the start of the second half.

The Exiles dominated the second 40 minutes, scored three tries, threatened several more and restricted Glasgow to just two.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Perhaps worse for Glasgow was their trials at the set scrum where some young and inexperienced props were put through the wringer by several experienced old campaigners, especially one-time Aberdeen Grammar stalwart Ben Prescott, who joined the Exiles this season from the Cornish Pirates.

Townsend declared he wasn’t sure exactly what was going on at the coalface as his side conceded a string of scrum penalties late in the game but Prescott harboured no such doubts.

“The referee was giving us penalties at the end because Glasgow just weren’t able to hold their own weight [ahead of the call to engage].

“It was a little frustrating because it was a pre-season game so I wanted to scrummage.

“That’s what I’m paid for, that’s my job so not to be able to do that was slightly disappointing. They were leaning on us and the referee wasn’t having it.”

In fairness to Glasgow, the pack that finished on Saturday bore little relation to the one that will start against Leinster, and Jerry Yanuyanutawa, a loosehead by trade, was utilised in the less familiar tighthead berth as his coach pointed out after the match.

The London Scots probably finished the stronger of the two teams despite a late, late try by Peter Murchie, the same man who had opened the scoring 17 minutes into the game.

Mark Bennett’s brace in the first half earned him the man of the match award, and Lee Jones got Glasgow’s fourth try but only after shaking the biggest man on the field, the Exiles’ American lock Tai Tuisamoa, by the throat. It may have been a pre-season friendly but it wasn’t always 

In the second half, Yanuyanutawa also rumbled over the line for Glasgow but, in between, the Exiles had scored three good tries of their own. Former Gala pivot Lee Millar was playing 13 on Saturday and he got on the end of Dan Newton’s clever grubber kick behind the rush defence to open the Scots’ 

The provider turned finisher when Newton grabbed the second following a training field move that split the Warriors’ like the Red Sea and Mike Doneghan collected and scored from a cross-field kick that Murchie should have dealt with.

Even if things went downhill after the break, there was still plenty for Townsend to enthuse about in an efficient first 40, and chief among them was the performance of the young No 8 Adam Ashe, who was whistled up for the summer Test against the Springboks in June before he had started a meaningful match for the Warriors.

Al Kellock picked him as man of the match and few, apart from the match-day sponsors, would argue. Still only 21, Ashe is a big lump and he has the happy knack of breaking the first 

He is going to add to the competition in the Glasgow third row which already boasts Josh Strauss and Ryan Wilson (when he’s fit). It’s been a whirlwind few months for Ashe, does he pinch himself to ensure he is not dreaming?

“Yeah, it’s come around so quick,” he agrees. “It’s hard to believe how far I’ve come in the last three to four months but it’s going well. I’m happy with where I am and I just want to keep pushing hard and hopefully I can be here [starting] a bit more regularly.

“That’s the thing at Glasgow these days, there is so much competition, everyone needs to be training their best every week and playing their best every week to get a chance of starting. I want to get involved in the squad as much as I can.” Ashe put his hand up for next Saturday but others arguably played themselves out of contention in that scrappy second half when Glasgow forced the pace and forced the pass while attempting to score from every play of the game.

The Exiles pounced on the scraps of possession thus received like starving men.

“In the second half we broke down a little bit at the set-piece,” said Ashe, “But it’s nothing we can’t work on going into the Leinster game next week. We’ll train hard next week and come back a lot stronger for next 

They will need to.