GLASGOW had to withstand a late fightback from a spirited Ayrshire Bulls side last night before ensuring that Franco Smith’s reign as their head coach began with a win.

The Super6 champions looked down and out at 22-3 behind going into the last quarter, but a late rally saw them score two converted tries.

They were unable to embarrass their professional opponents with a further score that would have levelled or won the match, but they certainly impressed Smith.

“I must compliment them for bringing the fight to us,” the Warriors coach said. “I want to thank them.

“I said to our boys that they helped us a lot. We needed this hit out and a bit of contact. The effort they put in actually helped.”

Smith was pleased with certain aspects of his team’s performance, especially as this was a first outing of the pre-season.

“It’s a starting point, and you’ve got to see it in context,” he said. “There was some really good stuff. I think we defended well in the first half, our scrum did well, and we drove well. Our kicking game was okay, especially in the first half. Just on the attack side of things we didn’t finish our opportunities in the first half and it became a little bit unravelled.

“With a different team going on in the second half we had to start again. But again, compliments to the Bulls, they came out in the second half and kept the intensity up.”

The Bulls enjoyed the lion’s share of territory and possession in a scoreless first quarter. Glasgow did attempt a few promising forays from deep, and winger Walter Fifita provided their first real threatening moment with a burst up the left flank.

With 25 minutes gone, Fifita had another break, this time getting within a couple of metres of the line before being ushered into touch.

The Warriors had got on top by that time, and they took the lead five minutes further on. Clean ball was secured from a line-out five metres from the Bulls line, and Johnny Matthews finished off with his customary aplomb. Domingo Miotti’s conversion attempt went wide.

The Bulls narrowed the gap two minutes before half time with a 40-metre penalty from Richie Simpson, but Glasgow hit back immediately with their second try, finished off between the posts by George Horne after a rapid counter-attack. Miotti was on target this time to make it 12-3 at the break.

Some of the momentum the Warriors had gathered during those latter stages of the first half appeared to have been dissipated both by the interval and by the number of substitutions made. Even so, they remained on top, and increased their lead after 45 minutes through another line-out drive, this time finished off by Fraser Brown. Joel Hodgson had taken over the kicking duties, but his attempt on goal went wide.

Just before the hour, Jack Dempsey got Glasgow’s fourth try of the night, again unconverted, finishing off from close range after a break down the right by Stafford McDowall.

The Bulls stuck to their task well despite being 19 points behind, and produced a late fightback with two tries. Their first came from Jamie Drummond, with a line-out again being the source. The conversion was by Will Hunt, who had started the night on the Warriors bench but came on for the Bulls.

Then, after a sustained assault on the line, Hunt dashed through a gap to touch down, and converted to make it a five-point game.

There were still three minutes to play, but the one chance the Bulls had to pull off a shock went a-begging when they coughed up possession from a line-out on the edge of the Glasgow 22.

The Warriors’ second and final pre-season fixture is against Ulster at Scotstoun on Friday. Their first URC game is away to Benetton a week later.

Scorers: Glasgow: Tries: Matthews, Horne, Brown, Dempsey. Con: Miotti.

Ayrshire Bulls: Tries: Drummond, Hunt. Cons: Hunt 2. Penalty: Simpson.


Glasgow Warriors:  C Forbes; W Fifita, S McDowall, T Jordan, K Steyn (captain), D Miotti, G Horne; N McBeth, J Matthews, S Berghan, L Bean, R Gray, S Manjezi, T Gordon, S Vailanu. Substitutes: F Brown, M Walker, L Sordoni, A Samuel, E Ferrie, JP du Preez, R Wilson, J Dempsey, C Jones, B Afshar, J Hodgson, W Hunt, A Stirrat, R McKnight, S Cancelliere.  


Ayrshire Bulls: Liam McNamara; J Shedden, R Beattie, A Stirrat, T Glendinning; R Simpson, J Lenac; A Nimmo, J Malcolm, M Scott, E Bloodworth, A Samuel, R Jackson, Lewis McNamara, B Macpherson (captain). Substitutes: W Farquhar, A Rogers, A McGuire, J Drummond, C Henderson, E Hamilton-Bulger, T Brown, G Wilson, F Climo, C Elliot, A Tait, E Caven.


Referee: Hollie Davidson. 


Attendance: 3,078.