Championship Glory For Gallant Glasgow Warriors

Championship Glory For Gallant Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow Warriors produced a stirring performance for the ages as they recovered from a 13-point deficit to beat Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, to win the BKT United Rugby Championship.

As impressive as their semi-final win away to Munster was last weekend, Warriors needed to find even more to compete and ultimately defeat a much-fancied Bulls side in their own back yard, in what will surely go down as one of the greatest club displays in Scottish history.

Bulls charged out of the gate in front of a passionate 50,000-strong attendance, Johan Goosen landing a long-range penalty a little over a minute into proceedings, following that up from much closer range on 14 minutes as the hosts’ physicality threatened to overwhelm their opponents.

When Marco van Staden bullied his way over, converted by Goosen, Bulls were 13 points to the good before the half hour mark.

To the casual observer, it looked a tall order for anything other than a home win to transpire, but this Glasgow squad have been to the brink and back enough times to know that opportunities will knock if belief is retained.

And so it showed when, with half-time looming, Scott Cummings forced his way over the line from close range. With George Horne clipping over the extras, Warriors went in at the break only six points adrift at the end of a half where, for the most part, they were on the back foot.

Half-time: Bulls 13-7 Glasgow Warriors

Goosen got his side more than a score ahead with his third penalty 10 minutes into the second half, but the real drama began shortly after, a galvanised Glasgow pack engineering a textbook line-out maul that saw George Turner – on his final outing for the club – go over from a runaway set piece. Horne’s conversion made it a two-point game.

If Bulls looked the game’s dominant, belligerent force in the opening 40, it’s safe to say that the roles were reversed after the interval. Where before the South Africans were dictating the tempo, the home team looked empty and when Huw Jones cantered over after being put in by his skipper Kyle Steyn, Horne’s conversion made it 21-16, an 18-point swing in scoreboard momentum.

A galloping Jack Dempsey, like everyone else watching on, then looked like he’d scored one of the break-away tries of all time, only for it to be correctly disallowed for a marginal early tackle on Kurt-Lee Arendse.

Horne’s 72nd minute long range penalty attempt didn’t quite have the legs, yet his presence of mind to tackle a sniping opposite scrum-half Embrose Papier soon after was one of an array of moments to which Glasgow could point to as match-winning. Tom Jordan’s late yellow card made for as tense a final few plays as befits such a final, but Warriors held on with the will of the champions they now are to win a first major trophy since their heroic Class of 2015.

That this may very well top that achievement will make for lively chats in clubhouses across Scotland but for now, everyone associated with Glasgow Warriors will revel in what the 2024 iteration have accomplished.

Full-time: Bulls 16-21 Glasgow Warriors


Glasgow Warriors: Josh McKay, Sebastián Cancilliere, Huw Jones, Sione Tuipulotu, Kyle Steyn ©; Tom Jordan, George Horne; Jamie Bhatti, Johnny Matthews, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Richie Gray, Matt Fagerson, Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey.

Replacements: George Turner (for Matthews, 45 mins), Nathan McBeth (for Bhatti, 45 mins), Oli Kebble, Gregor Brown (for Gray, 59 mins), Euan Ferrie, Henco Venter. (for Darge, 59 mins), Jamie Dobie (for Cancilliere, 59 mins), Duncan Weir.

Bulls: Williams, Peterson, Kriel, Vorster, Arendse, Goosen, Papier, Steenkamp, Grabbelaar, W Louw, Vermaak, Nortje ©, Van Staden, E Louw, Hanekom.

Replacements: Van der Merwe, Matanzima, Klopper, Ludwig, Carr, Burger, Smith, Smit.

Referee: Andrea Piardi (FIR)

Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (IRFU) and Craig Evans (WRU)

TMO: Matteo Liperini (FIR)

Player of the Match: Matt Fagerson

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