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November 28, 2003

Glasgow Warriors 18 - 31 Llanelli Scarlets

Celtic League match played at Hughenden on Friday November 28th 2003 | No comments
One had to feel for the cheerleaders. Standing behind the posts in their mini-skirts, waiting for a Glasgow score, there must have been serious concern that the ambulance staff would be called in at some stage.

They'd be needed to deal with cases of hypothermia, for there were precious few moments to cheer on a bitter evening in Glasgow.

Even Rangers manager Alex McLeish had turned up as a guest at the pre-match hospitality and he is certainly due overtime payments for dutifully staying in his Hughenden seat until full-time.

The ease with which Llanelli Scarlets grabbed hold of the set-piece areas and swept aside the Glasgow challenge ensured the contest was effectively over by the hour-mark, the Welsh by then holding a commanding 31-13 lead.

Glasgow coach Hugh Campbell admitted: "Llanelli are a pretty good side, but if you fail to win set-piece ball you’re feeding off scraps and we were feeding off scraps all night. Llanelli defended very well, but they seemed to be much more urgent in everything they did in the game. This was a real lesson for us and one we hope we don’t have to repeat."

Defence was also a problem for Glasgow until they tightened up at the break and worked out how to close down Llanelli’s wide runners. Their defensive frailty was exposed inside the first minute, when Wales’ fly-half Stephen Jones breezed through a gap and deep into the home half. Llanelli moved the ball wide and created an overlap, but failed to use it, enabling Glasgow to regain possession after some midfield crossing.

Jones then missed a penalty chance, but the crowd had just minutes to wait for the opening try. A fine miss pass from Jones set outside centre Tal Selley sprinting wide into space on halfway and he didn’t even need left wing Salesi Finau as he dummied inside Glenn Metcalfe and sped away from Graeme Morrison to touch down.

A thumping tackle by Andy Henderson on Finau and good scrum lifted the home support and from Glasgow’s first real period of continuity they won the reward of a penalty, which Howarth converted. But, a missed tackle by Donnie Macfadyen, and then failure to pick up the ball at the base of a ruck, saw the pressure forced back on Glasgow’s 22 and it ended with another Jones penalty.

Matthew Watkins scythed through the Glasgow back line again, as the game moved into the second quarter, and after slipping through two tackles full-back Barry Davies was eventually denied by Sean Lamont. But it only delayed the Scarlets as a minute later, tremendous tight driving play ended with tighthead John Davies steamrollering over the line. Jones converted and the concern growing around Hughenden was palpable.

With eight minutes of the half remaining, the hosts burst the dead atmosphere with a fine, spirited riposte. It stemmed from good forward work on the left of the field, and when Glasgow attacked the blind side from a maul, Calvin Howarth released Lamont and he superbly weaved a path to the line, showing great strength to hold off tacklers before diving over.

Howarth converted to cut what had seemed a worrying 12-point deficit to a morale-boosting five-point gap. Jones and Howarth swapped penalties before the break and should have done the same in the third quarter, but while Jones succeeded early on Howarth’s long-range effort came back off the left post.

In the face of more determined tackling, Llanelli started to lose their discipline and cohesion. Their attempts to use Finau and Scott Quinnell as midfield battering rams brought limited reward, but they still managed to keep Glasgow penned in their own half and eventually did set the scoreboard moving again, Jones the supplier with another three points.

The Glasgow work-rate was noticeably more effective in the second half, but still they produced precious little in the way of a threat in the Scarlets half. Good forward work was too often nullified by slow or inaccurate passing or handling mistakes.

It was inevitable Llanelli would take advantage and, on the hour, a fine move brought the reward of five points for substitute winger Lee Byrne. Quinnell peeled of the back of a scrum on the right, Jones moved the ball swiftly wide left and a powerful intrusion by open side Simon Easterby took the visitors in behind Glasgow for Byrne to take his pass and dive over in the left-hand corner.

Jones’ conversion from wide out underlined the quality of the man who three weeks ago was leading Wales in a stirring display against the world champions-to-be England. The sight of his opposite number Howarth trooping off moments later, to be replaced by Dan Parks - inside centre Graeme Morrison gave way to Gareth Maclure at the same point - further emphasised Howarth’s ultimately futile attempts to match the Welshman.

Glasgow fought hard in the final quarter, holding Llanelli outside their 22 and forcing errors. It was credit to their fitness and work-rate, and the stirring example of skipper Mather to keep his charges fighting to the last. That effort won reward when Joe Beardshaw, on as a sub for Ross only minutes earlier, was at the apex of a superbly-driven lineout to touch down with two minutes remaining, but it failed to disguise the fact that Glasgow were comfortably beaten on the night.

Report by David Ferguson of The Scotsman.

Referee A Lewis (IRE)
Attendance 2,345
Man of the Match Sean Lamont
Euan Murray
Gordon Bulloch
Lee Harrison
Andy Hall
Nathan Ross
Cammy Mather
Donnie Macfadyen
Jon Petrie
Graeme Beveridge
Calvin Howarth
Rory Kerr
Andrew Henderson
Graeme Morrison
Sean Lamont
Glenn Metcalfe
Andrew Kelly
Sam Pinder
Roly Reid
Joe Beardshaw
Gareth Maclure
Scott Lawson
Dan Parks
Match Substitutions
Off On
Calvin Howarth Dan Parks
Off On
Graeme Morrison Gareth Maclure
Off On
Lee Harrison Andrew Kelly
Off On
Jon Petrie Roly Reid
Off On
Nathan Ross Joe Beardshaw
Calvin Howarth Penalty
Sean Lamont Try 
Calvin Howarth Conversion
Calvin Howarth Penalty
Joe Beardshaw Try 

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