Glasgow Miss Late Victory Chance

Glasgow 26, Llanelli Scarlets 29Glasgow all but dropped out of contention for a Heineken Cup quarter-final place through defeat by Llanelli Scarlets at Hughenden this afternoon. But right to the end they were resisting every attempt to force them through the exit door.With the penultimate play of the game, Dan Parks all but blew the door open with a flat kick to the right corner. Three of his colleagues were queuing up there for the kick, and when it came the opportunity fell to Gareth Maclure. But he knocked on in a tackle, and the last chance was gone.Had he scored, Glasgow would have edged ahead by 31-29. Instead, they had only a narrow-defeat bonus point to show for the efforts.Technically, Glasgow could still come through by winning their last three games, beginning against Llanelli again a week today at Stradey Park. Then follow January games against Toulouse at Hughenden and then Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens. Even then, other results would have to fall into Glasgow's favour.Today's game, played in ideal bright condition, was one that Glasgow ought to have won. Indeed, they would have done if they had carried on the way they played first quarter, albeit they let slip an early 7-0 lead.Glasgow will also ponder how they did not make more of a match in which they conceded only two penalties but gained 14, the majority for offside and killing the ball. Such a statistic might prompt the question why the referee did not resort to his yellow card. But for Glasgow's analysis it was a measure of how they failed to cope with streetwise opponents who knew how far they could bend the relevant laws.Hugh Campbell, Glasgow's head coach, refused to accept that his team were unfairly denied a victory that ought to have been theirs. "We robbed ourselves," he remarked.Portents before the match were not favourable for Glasgow. A late change was enforced when Sam Pinder dropped out because of a stomach upset. Graeme Beveridge was restored to start at scrum half, with Pinder on the bench, though no doubt hoping that he would not be needed.However, Glasgow started the game as if they intended to play as they had done in securing a four-try bonus point in the Celtic League match against the same opponents two weeks ago on the same ground. Calvin Howarth, Euan Murray, and Scott Lawson set the immediate standard. Andy Henderson then sucked in support in fearsome driving maul, and when Sean Lamont intruded off the left wing Glasgow sprung quickly recycled ball in front of the posts. Beveridge seemed to hesitate, but he immediately birled through a gap and sprinted the 10 metres to the line. Howarth added the conversion, and Glasgow led by seven points after just six minutes.Gareth Bowen responded immediately with a goal from a not-releasing penalty, and it was Llanelli who went on to pick up a bonus point before half-time.Aisea Havili almost took Llanelli ahead five minutes later, when he escaped up the left touchline. Howarth made a saving tackle, but the try was delayed for only seconds as the forwards drove in for Gavin Thomas to score.Bowen missed the conversion, and Howarth then failed with two penalties. Both were from more than 40 metres, though based on his November accuracy, with a strike rate of 90%, they should have been within his range. "No one is a machine," Hugh Campbell pointed out afterwards even though the final margin was the value of one of those misses.Howarth, third time lucky, kicked a penalty goal for a 10-8 lead after 19 minutes. But Glasgow lost Andy Craig with an ankle injury eight minutes later, and they were felled by three sucker punches in the 11 minutes before the interval.Llanelli forwards" driving maul set up the scope for Matthew Watkins to score, and when a Glasgow lineout misfired crossfield passes let the centre in again. Bowen converted both.Howarth interrupted the Llanelli flow with two penalty goals, both for over-the-top infringements - the first after Maclure and Lawson had swept Glasgow into the 22, and the second when Beveridge was obstructed off his own tapped penalty. But in first-half injury time Bowen's chip through opened the way for a Garan Evans try, with the stand-off again converting.Llanelli led 29-16 at the interval. It was enough as Llanelli did not score in the second half. Afterwards, Gareth Jenkins, the Welsh club's coach, described it as "a big first half" by his team.Glasgow began the second half as they had done the first, though not with the same success. An early thrust up the right touchline by the every forceful Henderson was extended by Howarth and Kevin Tkachuk. But Howarth missed another penalty before, after 49 minutes, he had his fourth success.Glasgow were still 10 points adrift, but after an hour the picture suddenly changed. Maclure intercepted in halfway and ran all the way for a try. Howarth converted from in front of the posts, and Glasgow a sniff of victory. The scent, though, was not strong enough. Glasgow continued to be thwarted by Llanelli's expertise in slowing down repossession and, more damagingly, by their own lineout uncertainties.Yet if that crossfield punt by Parks right at the end had stuck to Maclure's hands the result would have been different. Glasgow would still have been in the hunt. As it is, Llanelli still have a last-eight position in their sights, and they will, of course, be firmly focussed on that in the return match at Stradey Park in only a week's time.Glasgow - Rory Kerr; Gareth Maclure, Andy Craig, Andy Henderson, Sean Lamont; Calvin Howarth, Graeme Beveridge; Kevin Tkachuk, Scott Lawson, Euan Murray, Andy Hall, Dan Turner, Cammy Mather, Jon Petrie (captain), Donnie Macfadyen. Substitutes - Kenny Logan for Craig (27 minutes), Gordon Bulloch for Lawson (59), John Beattie for Mather (59), Dan Parks for Howarth (65).Replacements not used - Andrew Kelly, Andrew Wilson, Sam Pinder.Tries, Lamont, Maclure; conversions, Howarth (2); penalty goals, Howarth (4).Llanelli Scarlets - Garan Evans; Aisea Havili, Matthew Watkins, Salesi Finau, Tal Selley; Gareth Bowen, Dwayne Peel; Phil John, Matthew Rees, John Davies, Vernon Cooper, Chris Wyatt, Simon Easterby (captain), Dafydd Jones, Gavin Thomas. Substitutes - Iestyn Thomas for John (64), Aled Gravelle for Rees (64), David Hodges for Easterby (68). Replacements - Adam Jones, Mike Phillips, Arwel Thomas, Barry Davies.Tries, Watkins (2), Gavin Thomas, Evans; conversions, Bowen (3); penalty goal, Bowen.Referee - Roy Maybank (England).Attendance - 2281.Glasgow 26, Llanelli Scarlets 29Glasgow all but dropped out of contention for a Heineken Cup quarter-final place through defeat by Llanelli Scarlets at Hughenden this afternoon. But right to the end they were resisting every attempt to force them through the exit door.With the penultimate play of the game, Dan Parks all but blew the door open with a flat kick to the right corner. Three of his colleagues were queuing up there for the kick, and when it came the opportunity fell to Gareth Maclure. But he knocked on in a tackle, and the last chance was gone.Had he scored, Glasgow would have edged ahead by 31-29. Instead, they had only a narrow-defeat bonus point to show for the efforts.Technically, Glasgow could still come through by winning their last three games, beginning against Llanelli again a week today at Stradey Park. Then follow January games against Toulouse at Hughenden and then Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens. Even then, other results would have to fall into Glasgow's favour.Today's game, played in ideal bright condition, was one that Glasgow ought to have won. Indeed, they would have done if they had carried on the way they played first quarter, albeit they let slip an early 7-0 lead.Glasgow will also ponder how they did not make more of a match in which they conceded only two penalties but gained 14, the majority for offside and killing the ball. Such a statistic might prompt the question why the referee did not resort to his yellow card. But for Glasgow's analysis it was a measure of how they failed to cope with streetwise opponents who knew how far they could bend the relevant laws.Hugh Campbell, Glasgow's head coach, refused to accept that his team were unfairly denied a victory that ought to have been theirs. "We robbed ourselves," he remarked.Portents before the match were not favourable for Glasgow. A late change was enforced when Sam Pinder dropped out because of a stomach upset. Graeme Beveridge was restored to start at scrum half, with Pinder on the bench, though no doubt hoping that he would not be needed.However, Glasgow started the game as if they intended to play as they had done in securing a four-try bonus point in the Celtic League match against the same opponents two weeks ago on the same ground. Calvin Howarth, Euan Murray, and Scott Lawson set the immediate standard. Andy Henderson then sucked in support in fearsome driving maul, and when Sean Lamont intruded off the left wing Glasgow sprung quickly recycled ball in front of the posts. Beveridge seemed to hesitate, but he immediately birled through a gap and sprinted the 10 metres to the line. Howarth added the conversion, and Glasgow led by seven points after just six minutes.Gareth Bowen responded immediately with a goal from a not-releasing penalty, and it was Llanelli who went on to pick up a bonus point before half-time.Aisea Havili almost took Llanelli ahead five minutes later, when he escaped up the left touchline. Howarth made a saving tackle, but the try was delayed for only seconds as the forwards drove in for Gavin Thomas to score.Bowen missed the conversion, and Howarth then failed with two penalties. Both were from more than 40 metres, though based on his November accuracy, with a strike rate of 90%, they should have been within his range. "No one is a machine," Hugh Campbell pointed out afterwards even though the final margin was the value of one of those misses.Howarth, third time lucky, kicked a penalty goal for a 10-8 lead after 19 minutes. But Glasgow lost Andy Craig with an ankle injury eight minutes later, and they were felled by three sucker punches in the 11 minutes before the interval.Llanelli forwards" driving maul set up the scope for Matthew Watkins to score, and when a Glasgow lineout misfired crossfield passes let the centre in again. Bowen converted both.Howarth interrupted the Llanelli flow with two penalty goals, both for over-the-top infringements - the first after Maclure and Lawson had swept Glasgow into the 22, and the second when Beveridge was obstructed off his own tapped penalty. But in first-half injury time Bowen's chip through opened the way for a Garan Evans try, with the stand-off again converting.Llanelli led 29-16 at the interval. It was enough as Llanelli did not score in the second half. Afterwards, Gareth Jenkins, the Welsh club's coach, described it as "a big first half" by his team.Glasgow began the second half as they had done the first, though not with the same success. An early thrust up the right touchline by the every forceful Henderson was extended by Howarth and Kevin Tkachuk. But Howarth missed another penalty before, after 49 minutes, he had his fourth success.Glasgow were still 10 points adrift, but after an hour the picture suddenly changed. Maclure intercepted in halfway and ran all the way for a try. Howarth converted from in front of the posts, and Glasgow a sniff of victory. The scent, though, was not strong enough. Glasgow continued to be thwarted by Llanelli's expertise in slowing down repossession and, more damagingly, by their own lineout uncertainties.Yet if that crossfield punt by Parks right at the end had stuck to Maclure's hands the result would have been different. Glasgow would still have been in the hunt. As it is, Llanelli still have a last-eight position in their sights, and they will, of course, be firmly focussed on that in the return match at Stradey Park in only a week's time.Glasgow - Rory Kerr; Gareth Maclure, Andy Craig, Andy Henderson, Sean Lamont; Calvin Howarth, Graeme Beveridge; Kevin Tkachuk, Scott Lawson, Euan Murray, Andy Hall, Dan Turner, Cammy Mather, Jon Petrie (captain), Donnie Macfadyen. Substitutes - Kenny Logan for Craig (27 minutes), Gordon Bulloch for Lawson (59), John Beattie for Mather (59), Dan Parks for Howarth (65).Replacements not used - Andrew Kelly, Andrew Wilson, Sam Pinder.Tries, Lamont, Maclure; conversions, Howarth (2); penalty goals, Howarth (4).Llanelli Scarlets - Garan Evans; Aisea Havili, Matthew Watkins, Salesi Finau, Tal Selley; Gareth Bowen, Dwayne Peel; Phil John, Matthew Rees, John Davies, Vernon Cooper, Chris Wyatt, Simon Easterby (captain), Dafydd Jones, Gavin Thomas. Substitutes - Iestyn Thomas for John (64), Aled Gravelle for Rees (64), David Hodges for Easterby (68). Replacements - Adam Jones, Mike Phillips, Arwel Thomas, Barry Davies.Tries, Watkins (2), Gavin Thomas, Evans; conversions, Bowen (3); penalty goal, Bowen.Referee - Roy Maybank (England).Attendance - 2281.