|Glasgow Warriors (13) 29|
|Tries: Thomson, Grigg Cons: Thomson 2 Pens: Thomson 5|
|Scarlets (3) 20|
|Tries: J Davies, Evans, Blommetjies Con: Patchell Pen: Patchell|
Glasgow Warriors overcame a red card to Alex Allan and withstood a Scarlets fight-back to go seven points clear at the top of Pro14 Conference A.
Allan was dismissed after 19 minutes for a dangerous tackle.
In his absence, Warriors scored tries in each half through Brandon Thomson and Nick Grigg.
Jonathan Davies, Steff Evans then, in the final five minutes, Clayton Blommetjies, touched down for Scarlets but Thomson’s boot secured victory.
In total, the South African scored 24 points, as the region left Glasgow empty-handed and fell 15 adrift of Conference B-topping Leinster.
Red card sparks firecracker contest
The opening skirmishes were dull, Thomson and Rhys Patchell trading penalties, but this became a firecracker contest when Allan was sent packing.
As Jake Ball charged at him, the prop stooped and hit upwards. He didn’t – or couldn’t – wrap his arms, his shoulder struck Ball in the jaw and stupefied his opponent.
Rugby says it is trying hard to protect the brain and red was a fair call from referee Frank Murphy. But Glasgow could point to several similar incidents during the recent autumn internationals that were met with lesser punishment – or no punishment at all.
Allan’s exit had the effect of poking the Glasgow bear. Scotstoun grew irate and raucous and their team became a snarling force, refusing to alter their attacking strategy.
Oli Kebble came on to take Allan’s place at loose-head and the mighty South African was immense. Warriors scrummaged with seven forwards but it didn’t matter with Kebble the pulverising fulcrum of the front-row. They won four scrum penalties and Kebble was responsible for most of them.
Thomson booted Glasgow ahead with his second penalty then hooked another wide.
Warriors came again, Robbie Nairn rampaging up the right and Kebble making roadkill of two defenders in the Scarlets 22. Lewis Rawlins – Ball’s replacement – conceded the region’s eighth penalty in 28 minutes and was sin-binned for killing the ball with Glasgow rumbling towards the line.
They went for the corner and the try and they got there when Thomson dummied, sniped and stretched to reach the whitewash, converting his own score. Scotstoun erupted and grew even noisier when Warriors kept Scarlets out with some terrific defence at the end of the half.
Glasgow strike from deep
Ninety seconds into the second period, Glasgow struck again and it was, typically of this team, a devastating bolt from the blue.
Darcy Rae won a turnover deep in home territory and off they set. Ruaridh Jackson kicked into open prairie, and a wicked bounce skipped into the arms of the onrushing Grigg, who scampered all the way home, Thomson converting.
They almost decked Scarlets again two minutes later, but a truly mesmeric score finished by Nairn was correctly ruled out for a forward pass by Scott Cummings.
It remained 20-3 and Scarlets cut the gap by five when Davies, their totem, battered through two weak tackles to plunge over.
Still, Glasgow’s aggression, industry and intelligence continued. Thomson kicked his third penalty after George Turner was upended by a no-arms hit from Will Boyde and his fourth when Ryan Elias strayed offside, then missed from the tee with 13 minutes remaining.
Scarlets rally with two screamers
Tom Phillips was binned for a high shot on Tim Swinson that bore many of the hallmarks of Allan’s hit. He escaped a red on the grounds Murphy reckoned the initial contact was below the head.
Despite that, Scarlets rallied with two screamers of their own to set up a fraught finish.
First, Davies intercepted near his own line and ran from 22 to 22. His floated pass found Blommetjies, who sent Evans searing in at the corner on the left flank. Patchell missed the conversion, but cleaved open the Glasgow defence minutes later, teeing up Blommetjies for the region’s third try.
This time he popped over the extras. Scarlets trailed by six and went off in search of an incredible victory from their own 22. They couldn’t get there. As had so often been the case, Glasgow smothered them at the breakdown, won the penalty, and Thomson nailed it to kill the comeback.
Glasgow: Ruaridh Jackson; Robbie Nairn, Nick Grigg, Stafford McDowall, Niko Matawalu; Brandon Thomson, George Horne; Alex Allan, George Turner, D’Arcy Rae, Tim Swinson, Scott Cummings, Matt Smith, Chris Fusaro (capt), Adam Ashe.
Replacements: Kevin Bryce, Oli Kebble, Siua Halanukonuka, Kiran McDonald, Tevita Tameilau, Nick Frisby, Paddy Kelly, Ratu Tagive.
Scarlets: Johnny McNicholl; Tom Prydie, Jonathan Davies (capt), Keiron Fonotia, Steff Evans; Rhys Patchell, Kieran Hardy; Rob Evans, Werner Kruger, Jake Ball, Steve Cummins, Will Boyde, Dan Davies, Uzair Cassiem.
Replacements: Dafydd Hughes, Wyn Jones, Simon Gardiner, Lewis Rawlins, Tom Phillips, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Paul Asquith, Clayton Blommetjies.