Glasgow Warriors firmly cemented their place at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12, ahead of the Heineken Cup commencing next weekend, with an extremely tense victory over Scarlets this evening, 17-12.
Despite starting out with clear intentions and building a good lead at half-time, 14-6, the second half of the game was an entirely different ball game as Scarlets came out the traps flying. However, grit and determination saw the Warriors keep their noses in front the entire match.
The victory sees the side win all five of their league matches so far and sets them up nicely for their next RaboDirect PRO12 fixture v Munster, on Friday 25 October, who sit in second place.
Glasgow Warriors head coach, Gregor Townsend, said: “We couldn’t ask for anymore than winning five games from five going into Europe.
“The players effort was fantastic tonight, but we did make it hard for ourselves in the second half. We did enough defensively and you can’t fault them for fighting until the end.
“Last season our match against Scarlets here was our poorest of the season, so we knew we had to play well and match them physically. We did that and the players also showed good awareness and linked up well in key plays throughout the game.
“We gave Scarlets momentum in the second-half and increased the pressure with two yellow cards. I do feel though that our changes in the last quarter of the match helped us manage that pressure though and the players that came on gave us another spark.”
Impressing on the field this evening was back-rows Chris Fusaro and Adam Ashe, on his second game with the team. Also Duncan Weir on his return at stand-off and Niko Matawalu earning the man-of-the-match title. Weir scored two conversions and a penalty. Also try scorers Ryan Grant and Tim Swinson showed up well.
Run of play:
Glasgow Warriors were showing a lot of spark from the outset, with winger Matawalu showing impressive flare. Ultimately, it was his quick thinking that set-up the first try of the match, three minutes in. He tapped a quick penalty, played a simple offload and a series of phases later, Ryan Grant bulldozed over the Scarlets line. Weir converted. 0-7
Priestland then put the hosts on the board with an easy penalty with 15 minutes of play gone.
Just shy of the half-hour mark and Glasgow upped the tempo again. Starting deep in their own half they made significant ground with every phase. Tim Swinson made the conclusive move with another powerful forwards score. Weir added his second conversion. 14-3.
Glasgow had a lot of trouble in the scrum and were continually being pinged by referee Giuseppe Vivaraini. This gave Priestland another chance at goal. His kick was successful, with three minutes left to play in the half. 14-6
Half-time: Llanelli Scarlets 6-14 Glasgow Warriors
Scarlets really upped the tempo of the match in the second-half and their efforts were rewarded quickly. Priestland made it three penalties from three. 14-9
Wingers Sean Lamont and Matawalu were both sent to the bin in the second period on 48 minutes and 75 minutes respectively, which saw the pressure on the visitors step up another gear.
On 58 minutes and 61 minutes Scarlets winger Jordan Williams and Weir exchanging kicks at goal concluding the scoring. 17-12
All that was left to do was for the Warriors to defend as though their life depended on it.
Full-time: Llanelli Scarlets 12-17 Glasgow Warriors
Scarlets team: Liam Williams; Nic Reynolds, Jonathan Davies (captain), Gareth Maule, Jordan Williams; Rhys Priestland, Rhodri WIlliams; Phil John, Ken Owens, Jacobie Adriaanse, George Earle, Joe Snyman, Josh Turnbull, John Barclay and Rob McCusker.
Glasgow team: Sean Maitland; Nikola Matalwau, Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar, Sean Lamont, Duncan Weir, Chris Cusiter; Ryan Grant, Pat MacArthur, Moray Low, Tim Swinson, Al Kellock (captain), Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro and Richie Vernon.
Llanelli Scarlets replacements: Aaron Shingler for McCusker (29mins), Emyr Phillips for Owens (40mins), Jake Ball for Snyman (51mins), Rob Evans for John (58mins), Aled Davies for Williams, Rhodri Jones for Adriaanse (both 74mins) and Adam Warren for Maule (both 77mins)
Glasgow Warriors replacements: Adam Ashe for Vernon, Jon Welsh for Low (both 48mins), DTH Van Merwe for Cusiter (61mins), Jerry Yanuyanutawa for Grant (67mins), James Eddie for Harley, Fraser Brown for McArthur (both 72mins) and Scott Wight for Bennett (77mins).
RaboDirect PRO12 man-of-the-match: Niko Matawalu
Referee: Giuseppe Vivarini