Glasgow Warriors complete Bulls comeback to win United Rugby Championship

Glasgow Warriors – Glasgow Warriors complete Bulls comeback to win United Rugby Championship
Glasgow Warriors produced a stunning second half display to come from 13 points behind and beat the Bulls - Getty Images/Gallo Images

Bulls 16 Glasgow Warriors 21

Glasgow Warriors pulled off a staggering second-half fightback to beat the Bulls in the final of the United Rugby Championship at a sold-out Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

Franco Smith’s side trailed 13-0 just before half-time and needed to repel a muscular maul from the hosts at the death to land their first major trophy since the 2015 Pro12 title.

Warriors, who had also overturned Munster on the road in the URC semi-final to reach the decider, went behind through a Marco van Staden’s converted try and two penalties from the boot of Johan Goosen. Van Staden, the Springboks flanker, stormed off the back of a driving line-out and powered through several defenders to dot down.

However, with the clock in the red at the end of the first period, Scott Cummings shunted over from close range to five his side a lifeline. That kept Glasgow in touch at just 13-7 behind.

The Warriors maul had been prolific all season and George Turner, who had replaced Johnny Matthews at hooker, capitalised from a trademark shove from the pack in the 54th minute.

Eight minutes later, a bobbling ball was moved wide by Tom Jordan and captain Kyle Steyn broke clear on the left flank. He fed Huw Jones, who could amble across the whitewash. George Horne converted all three of his team’s tries.

Glasgow thought they had pulled further in front with a disallowed score from Jack Dempsey and had to absorb other setbacks. Horne would fall just short with a penalty from distance late on and fly-half Jordan was sin-binned for the final stages.

Even so, the Warriors prevailed as they halted a Bulls drive on their own try-line. Celebrations erupted when referee Andrea Piardi ruled that the ball had become unplayable, awarding a scrum put-in to Glasgow and calling for full-time. Matt Fagerson, the dogged blindside flanker, epitomised Glasgow’s perseverence and was named player of the match.

“Word can’t describe what we’re feeling right now” he said. “It was a goal we set out at the beginning of the year and to do it at a place as historic as this… I can’t put it into words.

“The last three or four games, we’ve taken a liking to knockout rugby, in the sense of not overplaying in the wrong areas and putting boot to pall.

“When you’ve got a kicker like George Horne, it makes it so much easier. We’ve done it the hard way, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”