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December 15, 2023

Bayonne 11 - 12 Glasgow Warriors

Champions Cup match played at Stade Jean Bauger on Friday December 15th 2023 | No comments

Man-of-the-match Ally Miller put Glasgow back in the game with a fine try
Glasgow Warriors put themselves back in the Champions Cup mix with a hard-fought win over Bayonne at Stade Jean Dauger this evening.

Warriors managed to overcome a misfiring set-piece to edge out Bayonne 12-11 for a much-needed away win in Pool 3 of the Champions Cup.

After losing out at home to Northampton, Warriors sat bottom of the group as they headed to the south west of France and they had to withstand a final multi-phase Bayonne onslaught with the clock in the red before getting over the ball to force a penalty and secure the win.

The game got off to a frantic start with the big home crowd in good voice for their club's first home game in the Champions Cup.

Glasgow looked more likely to score first after being gifted a penalty in the home half, two minutes into the game.

Ross Thompson kicked into the right corner and the line-out drive came on.

Bayonne held them out twice, the second time after a Thompson cross-field kick was gathered by Ollie Smith, who touched down in the corner. The try was ruled out, though, because one of his boots shaved the touchline.

Both teams turned down easy shots at goal to try to score tries. Bayonne were the did cross the line, but Argentina number eight Rodrigo Bruni was adjudged to have used a double movement and had his 14th-minute effort ruled out.

The opening score of the game came just after Zander Fagerson was shown a yellow card by referee Adam Leal for going off his feet at a breakdown. That gave home skipper Camille Lopez the chance to knock over an easy penalty in the 28th minute.

The French side built on that lead six minutes later after Lopez had kicked another penalty in the Glasgow 22 into the right corner. This time the line-out drive worked as Argentina hooker Facundo Bosch rode the drive before touching down.

Still down a player, Glasgow ,came up with a brilliant response almost immediately from number eight Ally Miller.

Making his first start of the season, the former Scotland Sevens star ran 30 metres up the right touchline, outpacing home wing Nadir Megdoud on his way to the line.

Thompson's conversion made it a one-point game at the interval, although another Lopez penalty two minutes into the second half made it 11-7 to the home side.

Glasgow eventually hit the front just short of the hour mark with their second try of the game.

Having worked their way up to the Bayonne line, two long passes to the left enabled Kiwi wing Josh McKay to sprint to the corner and finish with an acrobatic dive to score the try that put Glasgow a point ahead.

New Bayonne signing Reece Hodge pushed two long-distance kicks just wide of the posts as the pressure mounted from the home side, but Glasgow stayed strong to secure a valuable win.

"We're very excited with the win," said Glasgow head coach Franco Smith.

"The boys fought the whole game, coming back from a deficit in the first half and again in the second half. It was fantastic. Yes, we butchered a lot of opportunities and I think we were inaccurate in the set-piece but a lot of our boys were playing for the first time in this environment so to come away with a win and to do it with a lot of heart, and the way we went about sticking to the processes especially in defence and discipline at the end, was a big character-building exercise."

Ally Miller's try was his first for the Warriors since he joined them from Edinburgh in 2021 and he is happy with the way they got their Champions Cup campaign on track.

"It was definitely a strong reaction to last week's result and it was fun, real fun out there. We knew the crowd would be crazy and it was all about trying to silence them," he said.

"We did a good job of that. We talked a lot about last weekend in the build up to the game and we knew it would be a big challenge."

The win moves Glasgow into third spot in Pool Three, with Northampton out in front after beating Toulon on Friday, with second-placed Exeter Chiefs and Munster, who are in fifth spot, still to play on Sunday.

It was Miller's first start of the season and he made the most of his opportunity by impressing throughout and showing a fine turn of pace to go over for his try.

"George Turner took the last man out and I took on their wing on the outside. He didn't have the legs and I cheekily tried to run around to the posts," said Miller.

"I've played sevens for Scotland and it was just part of a good team performance. We tried to get the ball wide and it worked out.

"We were all proud to put in a good performance for the fans who travelled out to watch us. There is a lot more to come from us."

The only negative for Glasgow on the night was an injury to Ollie Smith just before half-time.

Referee Adam Leal (England)
Man of the Match Ally Miller
Jamie Bhatti
George Turner
Zander Fagerson
Greg Peterson
Alex Samuel
Gregor Brown
Tom Gordon
Ally Miller
George Horne
Ross Thompson
Ollie Smith
Sione Tuipulotu
Huw Jones
Kyle Rowe
Josh McKay
Angus Fraser
Nathan McBeth
Oli Kebble
Richie Gray
Max Williamson
Henco Venter
Ben Afshar
Tom Jordan
Match Substitutions
Off On
Ollie Smith Tom Jordan
Off On
George Turner Angus Fraser
Off On
Jamie Bhatti Nathan McBeth
Off On
Alex Samuel Max Williamson
Off On
Zander Fagerson Oli Kebble
Off On
Greg Peterson Richie Gray
Ally Miller Try 
Ross Thompson Conversion
Josh McKay Try