Challenge Cup: Glasgow Warriors’ stunning second half sees off Scarlets in semi-final clash

·3-min read
 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Glasgow Warriors’ greater physicality told in the second period as they reached the Challenge Cup final with a 35-17 victory over the Scarlets.

The Scottish outfit opened the game impressively, going 7-0 ahead through Stafford McDowall’s try, but the Welsh region battled back.

Scroll to continue with content

Steff Evans’ score and three Sam Costelow penalties gave the hosts a 14-7 advantage at the break before the Warriors took control.

George Horne touched down to level matters and, although the Scarlets‘ Costelow was on target from the tee for a fourth time, Glasgow were on the front foot.

Franco Smith’s men controlled matters in the set-piece and further tries from Johnny Matthews, Rory Darge and McDowall booked their place in the Challenge Cup showpiece.

Click here for teams and scorers

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel recalled four internationals, with full-back Johnny McNicholl, scrum-half Gareth Davies, prop Wyn Jones and Sam Lousi all starting, but flanker Aaron Shingler’s hopes of a final appearance before retirement were dashed by injury.

Props Jamie Bhatti and Zander Fagerson returned to the Glasgow starting line-up, while hooker George Turner returned from injury, although lock Richie Gray was a late withdrawal and replaced by JP du Preez.

Glasgow blasted out of the blocks, and then went ahead after just three minutes through a superbly worked try.

Number eight Jack Dempsey made an initial break that had the Scarlets defence back-pedalling, and McDowall applied an outstanding finish, with Horne’s conversion making it 7-0.

It was a disruptive opening for the Scarlets, who saw prop Javier Sebastian and centre Johnny Williams go off for head injury assessments in quick succession, and Glasgow held their advantage following a lively opening quarter.

Scarlets grew into the contest, though, and Costelow opened their account through a 24th-minute penalty, before adding another three-pointer shortly afterwards as poor Glasgow discipline was punished by referee Mathieu Raynal.

Glasgow proved architects of their own downfall nine minutes before the break when Turner’s lineout throw inside Warriors’ 22 missed his jumpers, and Scarlets attacked.

Turner’s opposite number Ken Owens led the charge, and Glasgow ran out of defensive numbers when possession was quickly moved wide and McNicholl delivered a scoring pass to an unmarked Evans.

But the Scarlets lost another player when lock Morgan Jones was forced off – Carwyn Tuipulotu replaced him – before Costelow completed his penalty hat-trick to secure a 14-7 interval lead.

Glasgow were level within five minutes of the restart when Horne rounded off impressive approach work by locks Du Preez and Scott Cummings, with Horne’s conversion levelling things up before replacement Scarlets prop Sam Wainwright was yellow-carded for a high tackle.

A fourth Costelow penalty edged the Scarlets back in front, yet the lead lasted only three minutes as Glasgow drove a close-range lineout that was finished off by Matthews, who touched down.

Horne again converted, and Glasgow went further in front after Scarlets messed up a defensive lineout and Darge crashed over for Warriors’ fourth try, converted by Horne.

The Scarlets came storming back, yet a last-gasp defensive intervention prevented McNicholl’s scoring pass from reaching Evans, and Glasgow held firm amid escalating home pressure.

And the Warriors successfully closed things out to set up a full-scale tilt at European silverware in 20 days’ time, with McDowall’s second try sealing the success.

READ MORE: Five takeaways from Leinster v Toulouse as Irish province take advantage of French side’s ill-discipline

The article Challenge Cup: Glasgow Warriors’ stunning second half sees off Scarlets in semi-final clash appeared first on