Guinness PRO12: Gregor Townsend praises Warriors’ spirit

Glasgow boss praises players as they secure 34-34 draw with Leinster despite blowing a 20-point half-time lead at the RDS

The Sport Review staff
By The Sport Review staff
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Stuart Hogg goes over for Glasgow Warriors' first of four tries Photo: Jason O'Callaghan

Gregor Townsend hailed Glasgow Warriors’ late fightback to secure a bonus-point 34-34 draw with Leinster at the RDS Arena.

The Warriors head coach saw his side blow a 20-point half-time lead as Leinster started the second half all guns blazing led by replacement scrum-half Isaac Boss, who picked up the man of the match award, but the league leaders held on and found a second wind to score their fourth try with six minutes remaining.

When Leinster scored their fourth try to move ahead I was hoping that we would pick up a losing bonus point, so to come away with two extra points is fantastic.

Gregor Townsend on leaving the RDS with a draw

Injuries hampered the Warriors, with tighthead prop Zander Fagerson and full-back Stuart Hogg departing in the first half, and openside flanker Chris Fusaro and centre Richie Vernon leaving the action early in the second.

And with five clubs still battling it out for the four play-off places with just four rounds of the Guinness PRO12 remaining, Townsend was delighted to leave Dublin with more than just a losing bonus point from an eight-try thriller that keeps the Warriors top of the table.

“The three points are crucial,” Townsend told the Warriors website.

“When Leinster scored their fourth try to move ahead I was hoping that we would pick up a losing bonus point, so to come away with two extra points is fantastic.

“It’s going to be very tight with five teams chasing really hard for the top four places and the two home play-off ties.

“We’ve just got to make sure we prepare really well for each game, and build on what we did last night.”

Putting their poor record in Dublin – and a 34-12 defeat to Leinster at the same venue last May – behind them, the Warriors impressed in the opening 40 as they dominated proceedings with tries from full-back Stuart Hogg and centres Richie Vernon and Mark Bennett.

The centres were excellent and I thought Richie Vernon looked really good starting his first game at inside centre.

Gregor Townsend on the Warriors’ spirited performance

A 27-7 lead at the interval should have been enough to see off most teams, but Leinster hit back with Boss leading the cavalry charge with a brace with Jordi Murphy also adding to Fergus McFadden’s first-half score.

But Bryce’s try in the corner and a superb touchline conversion from Peter Horne got the Warriors level on a match that was every bit as thrilling as the last day of the RBS 6 Nations just six days earlier.

“There was fantastic courage shown by the players,” Townsend added.

“I’ve got images of DTH van der Merwe really struggling with cramp and then making a 50-60 metre break, which almost led to a try, and then getting back and putting in a crucial tackle for the team.

“Mike Cusack, who hasn’t played much this season, had to come on really early and did very well in the scrums, and to still be tackling near the end was great to see.

“There were a few injuries, and some guys came on early from the bench. Glenn Bryce got over his initial charge-down and scored an excellent try.

“Adam Ashe came on and carried really hard, and it was great to see Henry Pyrgos back from injury, and he got us into the position to score the try at the end.

“Peter and Stuart orchestrated a lot of things in the first half and were mixing it up really well.

“The centres were excellent and I thought Richie Vernon looked really good starting his first game at inside centre.

“Peter Horne only found out yesterday he was playing stand-off and played excellent rugby.

“He was very committed with his tackling and running at the defence and had the confidence and ability to kick the final conversion, which was very important.”

Match details:

Leinster: Zane Kirchner; Fergus McFadden, Ben Te’o, Ian Madigan, Dave Kearney; Jimmy Gopperth, Eoin Reddan; Michael Bent, Richardt Strauss, Marty Moore, Tom Denton, Mike McCarthy, Jordi Murphy, Shane Jennings (captain), Jack Conan.

Replacements: Sean Cronin (for R Strauss, 33-37 – blood sub; 41), Cian Healy (for Bent, 41), Tadhg Furlong, Ben Marshall (for McCarthy, 54), Dominic Ryan (for Conan, 66); Isaac Boss (for Reddan, 33), Gordon D’Arcy (for Te’o, 73), Luke Fitzgerald (for Fergus McFadden, 51).

Tries: McFadden, Boss (2), Murphy
Cons: Madigan (4)
Pens: Madigan (2)

Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett, Richie Vernon, DTH van der Merwe; Peter Horne, Niko Matawalu; Alex Allan, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, Al Kellock (captain), Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Josh Strauss.

Replacements: Pat MacArthur (for Fusaro, 47), Jerry Yanuyanutawa (for Allan, 64), Mike Cusack (for Fagerson, 10), Jonny Gray (for Kellock, 51), Adam Ashe (for J Strauss, 59-66; for Brown 66); Henry Pyrgos (for Matawalu, 63), Connor Braid (for Vernon, 44), Glenn Bryce (for Hogg, 39).

Tries: Hogg, Vernon, Bennett, Bryce
Cons: Horne (4)
Pens: Bennett, Horne

Yellow card: Matawalu (51)

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)

Attendance: 16,210

Man of the Match: Isaac Boss (Leinster)

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