Glasgow Warriors 13 – 18 Scarlets
There was a good crowd to welcome Glasgow to their new home at the Scotstoun Stadium, yet despite their sternest efforts, the home side could only finish with a losing bonus point.
With conditions dry, it was an abrasive start by the Warriors, where they had the majority of possession. A stern Scarlets defence kept them trapped between the halfway line and the Scarlets’ 22 but ill-discipline cost the visitors and they were soon 3-0 down having missed their own shot at goal.
The Scarlets made the most of what little possession they had and with some great interlinking play, Aaron Shingler crossed for a try in the left corner. Rhys Priestland again missed with the boot, in what was turning into a disastrous night for the kickers.
Shingler turned from hero to villain moments later, where he was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle. It was the latest infringement in a string of indiscipline from the visitors which saw referee Dudley Phillips finally losing his patience.
If Glasgow were hoping to take advantage of the extra man, they were left disappointed as centre Jon Davies of the Scarlets ripped the ball clear to kick and chase down the field, with in form wing Fenby grounding it in the corner to give them a 10-3 lead heading towards half time.
Indiscipline cost them as again a Scarlets forward, this time in the shape of Rees, got isolated in midfield and was penalised. Jackson stepped up and slotted the penalty to see the half time score as 6 – 10. After a haphazard performance it was to be his last act of the game.
The second half saw the introduction of Weir at fly half for Glasgow in place of Jackson, and he gave the home side greater confidence and shape to their game. The Scarlets defence was superb in response, driving the Glasgow players back in contact as Earle was again having a big effect for the West Wales region.
The Scarlets backs were starting to make more of an impression and when Jon Davies made a quick burst through, it was the ever present Liam Williams that was there in support. Hard work from the forwards saw them driving to the line, and with some quick passes out wide a three on one overlap saw George North sliding over to score. A missed kick left the scores as 6 – 18 after Priestland had managed to slot over an earlier penalty.
The last quarter of the game was all Glasgow. They drove time and time again at the Scarlets’ defence that had started to wobble. Richard Kelly can count himself lucky to not see yellow after slowing Glasgow ball on the try line, but the referee seemed content to issue a warning only due to the vastly improved discipline of the second half.
The try came after a neat inside pass saw Glasgow sidestep the desperate tackle of Phil John to send their scrum half Chris Cusiter over for a very hard earned try. It was too little too late, as the Scarlets were able to see out the match to finish 18-13 winners.
It’s a great start for the Welsh region, with a hugely improved forwards display from last season, but Glasgow will be concerned with how they’ve started. Their defence was one of the best in the league last season, and they will need to get back to those standards if they have any chance of challenging in the Rabo PRO12 this year.
Full time score: Glasgow 13 – 18 Scarlets
My predicted score: Glasgow 15 – 20 Scarlets
Man of the Match: Liam Williams
Referee: Dudley Phillips
Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie 14 Sean Lamont 13 Alex Dunbar 12 Graeme Morrison 11 DTH van der Merwe 10 Ruaridh Jackson 9 Chris Cusiter 1 Ryan Grant 2 Pat MacArthur 3 Moray Low 4 Tom Ryder 5 Al Kellock (CAPTAIN) 6 Rob Harley 7 John Barclay 8 Ryan Wilson
Substitutes from: Finlay Gillies, Dougie Hall, Mike Cusack, Gordon Reid, James Eddie, Chris Fusaro, Henry Pyrgos, Duncan Weir, Peter Horne, Byron McGuigan, Tommy Seymour.
Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Andy Fenby 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 1 Rhodri Jones, 2 Matthew Rees, 3 Deacon Manu, 4 George Earle, 5 Richard Kelly, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Johnathan Edwards, 8 Rob McCusker (capt)
Replacements: Ken Owens, Phil John, Peter Edwards, Sione Timani, Kieran Murphy, Gareth Davies, Aled Thomas, Adam Warren.