Johnny Matthews crowned Glasgow's win with a late try
Johnny Matthews crowned Glasgow’s win with a late try
Glasgow Warriors (3) 22
Try: Matthews Con: Weir Pens: Thompson (5)
Exeter Chiefs (0) 7
Try: S Simmonds Con: J Simmonds

Glasgow claimed a superb victory over Exeter at foggy Scotstoun to keep alive hopes of progressing to the Champions Cup last 16.

The 2020 champions briefly threatened a late fightback from 12-0 down with Sam Simmonds’ converted try.

But Glasgow quickly reasserted their dominance with Ross Thompson adding his fifth penalty before Johnny Matthews crossed in the final minute.

Both sides now have a win and defeat in Pool A.

Scotstoun welcomed back their former heroes in Jonny Gray and Stuart Hogg – or would have done had they been able to pick them out in the fog that descended on Glasgow before kick-off.

As the visibility worsened fears grew that the poor, beleaguered Champions Cup might suffer another cancellation but, mercifully, we had a game. Not a free-flowing classic but a tough-as-old-boots contest.

Glasgow will have been frustrated that they turned around at the break with just a 3-0 lead. In possession and territory terms they dominated the opening half, not just matching Exeter’s physicality but surpassing it at times.

The hosts played hard and direct. Sione Tuipulotu was a force on both sides of the ball. The burgeoning star, Rory Darge, took it to a celebrated back row and bested them. His partner at the back of the scrum, Jack Dempsey, was outstanding.

Exeter hardly played at all. They had all sorts of attackers and distributors in their backline but they practically hoofed every ball that came their way.

Danny Wilson’s men went ahead through Thompson’s early penalty. The fact it stayed 3-0 for so long was down, in part, to Glasgow errors just when it looked like they were about to get up a head of steam and also due to Exeter’s excellent defence, which is the one facet of their game that was at their usual standard.

Rob Baxter’s side had their first, and only, attacking platform of the half after 35 long minutes. There looked to be a sense of inevitability about their attacking line-out close-in. They threw all their heavies into a series of drives and were met by more resistance than they could handle. Glasgow survived, then attacked, then blew a golden moment to score.

Ross Thompson was successful with four of five penalties as Glasgow claimed a superb win
Ross Thompson was successful with five of six penalties as Glasgow claimed a superb win

On the stroke of the break, George Turner went battering through the middle of a maul with only a last-ditch tackle by Tom O’Flaherty stopped him from crashing in under the posts. Glasgow got a penalty, kicked it to touch for a 5m lineout and then lost control. Exeter would have felt blessed to be only three down at half-time.

We expected more from them on the restart, but the rhythm of the game continued. Glasgow were in control and attritional with it. Thompson missed a kickable penalty and then put over two others (the second off a beaten scrum) in its wake. Still, Exeter hadn’t stirred.

On the hour, Glasgow won another scrum penalty, Oli Kebble doing the damage, and Thompson lashed that one over, too. A 12-point lead and total control, an edge further illustrated seconds later when Jonny Gray – playing against his big brother Richie for the first time – got hit in the tackle by one Warrior then got blasted backwards and downwards by a supporting cast of two or three others. Scotstoun hollered its approval. Nobody imagined it being this way.

Exeter had another set-piece opportunity to play themselves into it just after, a scrum close to the Glasgow 22 and the kind of position they’re normally lethal from, but not here. Sam Simmonds galloped off the back of the scrum and was hit. Hard. A wave of Glasgow men washed over Exeter with a venom and a work-rate that typified their night.

The visitors would not go quietly, though. On their next visit to the Glasgow 22, they scored, Simmonds barrelling over from close range. There was no panic from the home team. No grandstand finish. They went downfield, won a penalty, Thompson kicked it over the bar to make it an eight-point game.

In the last play Matthews smashed his way over for a try converted by Duncan Weir, a score that put a fairer reflection on the scoreboard.

Exeter left with nothing, not even a losing bonus point. Hogg and Gray won’t forget their homecoming in a hurry. Neither will a euphoric Glasgow crowd. This was their biggest night in years.

Glasgow Warriors: McKay; Steyn, Tuipulotu, Johnson, Forbes; Thompson, Price (capt); Bhatti, Turner, Z Fagerson, Cummings, R Gray, M Fagerson, Darge, Dempsey.

Replacements: Matthews, Kebble, Pieretto, McDonald, Harley, Gordon, G Horne, Weir.

Exeter: Hogg; Nowell, Slade, Whitten, O’Flaherty; J Simmonds, J Maunder; Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie (capt), Nixon, J Gray, Hill, Ewers, S Skinner, S Simmonds.

Replacements: Yeandle, Moon, Schickerling, Armand, Kirsten, S Maunder, H Skinner, Hendrickson.

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