Glasgow Warriors edge past Scarlets to book home draw in URC play-off quarter-finals
On a wet and windy night at Scotstoun, Glasgow Warriors did what they had to do in order to book a home draw in the URC play-off quarter-finals with one game of the regular season to spare, beating Scarlets 12-9.
It will not go down as a classic but will be a valuable confidence boost ahead of these two teams meeting again in Llanelli in the last four of the EPCR Challenge Cup in two weekends’ time.
Scarlets dominated the opening five minutes and took the lead through a Dan Jones penalty after 24 phases of relentless pressure.
The visitors doubled their tally when Sam Johnson was guilty of a high tackle on Kieran Hardy, and Jones once again kicked the points.
The weather seemed to be disrupting the home team more than their Welsh opponents, although both sides were struggling to play through multiple phases.
Eventually, in the final 10 minutes of the first half, Warriors began to find their feet, with some smart kicking from Ali Price, Tom Jordan and Stafford McDowall putting Scarlets under pressure.
The hosts came close to opening their account when veteran flanker Ryan Wilson – who announced this week that he is leaving the club after 13 years at the end of this season – was held up over the line.
Then, with just four minutes left in the half, Warriors finally got off the mark when Sione Vailanu carried three tacklers with him as he charged over the line.
Jordan did not manage the tricky conversion from wide on the left, meaning Scarlets took a single-point lead into the break.
Scarlets struck first in the second half, with a scrum penalty handing Jones three more points.
That seemed to be the spark Warriors needed and they finally found their groove.
Some powerful forward play created a sustained buzz in the Scotstoun stands for the first time in the match, and the hosts grabbed the lead with 54 minutes played when Fraser Brown finished off a line-out maul.
Jordan fired home the conversion, and Warriors kept their foot on the gas – but they could not find a way to extend their lead.
Scarlets nearly delivered a knock-out punch when second-row Vaea Fifita stole possession from the base of a Warriors ruck just inside his own 22 and galloped the length of the pitch to touch down in the corner.
It was an excellent piece of opportunism and athleticism, but referee Chris Busby referred it to the TMO, who ruled that the Tongan had swooped for the ball from an offside position. Warriors breathed a massive sigh of relief.
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