Warriors 29 Scarlets 20

SELDOM has any Glasgow side fielded by Dave Rennie – and especially not one identified as being "second-string" given the number of changes made by the Warriors coach – produced such a hard-fought, gritty and even inspired display. But, at Scotstoun last night, Warriors kicked off what could be a pivotal month of rugby, on all fronts, with a 29-20 PRO14 win over Scarlets.

And the manner of that win, with Warriors playing three-quarters of the game a man down after Alex Allan was sent off, pleased the Warriors boss.

“We knew it was going to be tough before we started, so playing with 14 was going to be doubly so. But we were really disciplined and produced a positive response,” said Rennie afterwards.

“It was a pretty mature performance. But our talk was really good at half-time and the boys felt they could kick on from there. It was a massive effort and we really proud of them,” said Rennie who had no qualms about the red card.

“That’s the way it is. You catch someone on the chin with the shoulder, and they’ve ruled it as no-arms in the tackle. You’ve got to accept that.

“What was pleasing, regardless of who we put out, the guys are standing up and being constantly good.”

Eighteen minutes in, the game tied at 3-3, took an unwanted twist. Scarlets lock Jake Ball launched a charge, but was halted in his tracks by Alex Allan. As a somewhat woozy Ball left the field, the referee Frank Murphy consulted the TMO and deemed that Allan had led with his shoulder, rather than attempting a tackle.

A red card followed which, given some of the well-publicised decision-making that had gone on during the recent Autumn Test internationals, appeared increasingly ludicrous.

Down in numbers, Glasgow were up on the scoreboard when Thomson knocked over a penalty from distance, raising the noise and passion levels instantaneously.

And they went up another few degrees from the kick-off when replacement Lewis Rawlins took out fielder Adam Ashe. Given what had taken place moments before, the official ignored what looked like a challenge worthy of at least a second look.

Rawlins, however, did get his comeuppance on Glasgow’s next concerted drive, when he was yellow-carded for denying release.

Glasgow forewent the kickable award, by turning the screw, even with just a seven-man pack. After several phases from the empowered pack, and having missed an earlier penalty, Thomson made amends with a full seven-pointer. The South African threw a dummy to buy some space, ploughing through Dan Davis to touch down and converting his own score.

This 14-man rugby appeared to suit Glasgow as they led 13-3, an advantage they maintained to half-time thanks to some brilliant counter-rucking from just a few yards out from his own line by the ever-impressive Ashe.

Less than two minutes after the turnaround, Glasgow had added another converted try when Nick Grigg showed some fleet-footedness from 20-odd out to score.

Had it not been for a forward pass from Scott Cummings to George Horne less than 60 seconds later, Robbie Nairn could have had a debut try to put Warriors out of sight in the corner.

The TMO ruled that out, referee Murphy showing some pretty amateur dramatics in delivering the verdict.

Scarlets cut the deficit with a try out wide from skipper Jonathan Davies, only his second PRO14 game this term, to make it 20-8, but this Glasgow team appeared utterly motivated by the earlier contentious decision, and Thomson didn’t miss from close range.

The Warriors, forwards and backs, harried and harassed their Welsh guests with such ferocity that Scarlets made innumerable errors, each one cheered by the somewhat partisan Scotstoun audience.

Another offside call against Scarlets gave Thomson his easiest kick of the night to open a 26-8 lead. Scarlets were reduced to 14 men for another 10 minutes when Tom Phillips hit Tim Swinson high.

Pressing for another score, sub No 9 Nick Frisby threw a pass in one corner, which was intercepted by Jonathan Davies, his counter-attack bringing a try for Steff Evans in the diagonally opposite corner.

Rhys Patchell, back after recovering from a head knock collected in October, then sparked another Scarlets move that saw Clayton Blommetjies cross for the score, Wales fly-half Patchell converting.

Scarlets from nowhere were within a converted try of victory, or they were, until Thomson split the posts with his fifth penalty of the night.

“What was it, 16, 17, 18 penalties and two yellow cards. Our discipline let us down,” said Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac, trying hard not to make that observation sound too much of an understatement.