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April 29, 2023
Scarlets 17 - 35 Glasgow Warriors
European Challenge Cup match played at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday April 29th 2023 | No comments
Stafford McDowall's two tries started and finished the job for Glasgow Glasgow Warriors are European Challenge Cup finalists after a fine 35-17 win over Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets this evening.
Scarlets had the better of the first half but Warriors' greater physicality told in the second period as they booked their place in the Dublin final.
Glasgow made a quickfire start, going 7-0 ahead through Stafford McDowall's try, but Scarlets battled back immediately.
Steff Evans' try and three Sam Costelow penalties gave Scarlets a 14-7 advantage at the interval before the Warriors took control.
George Horne touched down to level the scores and, although Costelow was on target from the tee for a fourth time for the hosts, Glasgow were exerting much greater control.
Franco Smith's men took control at set-piece and further tries from Johnny Matthews, Rory Darge and McDowall booked their place in a European final for he first time.
Warriors were dealt a blow before kick off with Richie Gray was a late withdrawal replaced by JP du Preez.
Glasgow were quickly out the blocks, and then went ahead after just three minutes with a fine try.
A great break from Jack Dempsey - the eventual man-of-the-match - had the Scarlets defence back-pedalling, and McDowall broke through three defenders to finish, with Horne's conversion making it 7-0.
Scarlets suffered early injury blows with prop Javier Sebastian and centre Johnny Williams going off for head injury assessments.
Glasgow held their advantage following the opening period but Scarlets grew into the contest with Costelow getting them on the scoreboard a 24th-minute penalty, before adding another three-pointer shortly afterwards as poor Glasgow discipline was punished by referee Mathieu Raynal.
Errors and poor discipline from the visitors continued to provide Scarlets with a foothold in the game and nine minutes before the break George Turner's loose throw from a lineout inside Warriors' 22 missed his jumpers, and Scarlets pounced.
Ken Owens led the Scarlets' charge, and Glasgow ran out of defensive numbers when possession was quickly moved wide and McNicholl delivered a scoring pass to an unmarked Evans.
Scarlets lost another player when lock Morgan Jones was forced off to be replaced by Carwyn Tuipulotu but Costelow kicked another penalty to secure a 14-7 interval lead.
Five minutes into the second period Glasgow were back level when Horne rounded off impressive interplay by locks Du Preez and Scott Cummings. Scarlets replacement prop Sam Wainwright was yellow-carded for a high tackle in the build-up.
A fourth Costelow penalty edged the Scarlets back in front but the lead lasted only three minutes as Glasgow drove a close-range lineout that was finished off by replacement hooker 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 back and it took with a last-gasp defensive intervention from Glasgow's Ollie Smith to prevent McNicholl's scoring pass from reaching Evans. On another day, Smith may well have been sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on, but he was adjudged to have made a genuine attempt at an interception.
Warriors successfully closed things out when with McDowall went over for his second try after a neat lineout move.
Man-of-the-Match Jack Dempsey put Glasgow's powerful display down to the benefits of Franco Smith's tough pre-season as he was interviewed by BT Sport after the match. "The amount of work we've put in since pre-season, it's a bit of a cliche but we've worked our arses off, genuinely, and to be in this position in Europe is a good stepping stone and a reward," said Dempsey.
Glasgow head coach Franco Smith said: "The Scarlets threw everything at us tonight, the crowd was immense. For us to handle the pressure we put on ourselves in the first half was fantastic.
"We felt a little bit nervous, even guys who have played Test-match rugby. Lesson learned, we went back to the process, and I'm looking forward to seeing what we take out of this review."
Glasgow now await the victors of Sunday's semi-final between Toulon and Benetton.
"Benetton have been playing well lately, have had some good away games in South Africa. Toulon are a consistent power and have some star-studded players. It's going to be interesting, we will be sitting watching," added Smith.