|Pro14: Glasgow Warriors v Scarlets|
|Glasgow Warriors (3) 13|
|Tries: Gray, Grigg Pens: Russell|
|Scarlets (21) 28|
|Tries: Patchell, Davies, Evans, Owens Cons: Patchell 4|
Defending champions Scarlets reached next weekend’s Pro14 final in Dublin after outclassing Glasgow Warriors.
The Welsh side took advantage of an error-strewn first half from Glasgow, with Rhys Patchell, Gareth Davies and Rob Evans all scoring tries.
After Nick Grigg was sin-binned, Ken Owens went over for Scarlets, but Jonny Gray scored and then had a try disallowed.
Nick Grigg crossed late for Glasgow but it was too little too late.
Scarlets will face Leinster or Munster in next weekend’s final.
Glasgow suffered a severe blow moments before the game when Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg was judged to be too ill to play, and was replaced by Ruaridh Jackson.
On a gorgeous night in Glasgow and with 10,000 people packed into Scotstoun there were huge expectations for this semi-final. Two recent champions of this competition, two sides with attacking rugby in their DNA, two sides set up to thrill.
Only one side, though, brought their best stuff with them on the night. Having lost one big semi-final this season, the Scarlets weren’t about to lose a second. They were wonderful. They made light of the big home crowd and delivered the kind of breathless performance that used to be the way of things in Glasgow not so long go.
The scored early and hardly looked back. Patchell put a penalty in the Glasgow 22 to touch and the Scarlets went from there. The decisive moment came when Evans popped up at scrum-half at the breakdown and swept a skip-pass away to Patchell who stepped around Grigg’s weak tackle to score under the posts.
Ten minutes in, they lost John Barclay, the former Warrior in his last weeks as a Scarlet. Did the visitors skip a beat at the loss of one of their most influential players? No. It was as if they moved up a gear in honour of him, as if their determination to win intensified because they didn’t want Barclay’s story to end this way.
Finn Russell, playing his last game for Glasgow before his move to Racing 92, made it 7-3, but the Scarlets took over after that.
They seized a firm hold of it with their second try, a piece of counter-attacking brilliance initiated by Scott Williams and carried all the way to the sticks by Davies, who veered around Jackson to score. Again, Patchell added the conversion and after less than a quarter of the game, Scarlets led by 14-3.
Glasgow couldn’t get any momentum, couldn’t get their defence organised, couldn’t clear their lines effectively and when kicking badly to this Scarlets team, as they did, you are asking for bother.
And that’s what they got. George Horne kicked far too long and got away with it. A minute later he kicked far long again and didn’t get away with it. Johnny McNicholl gathered in space, blew past Fraser Brown up the left wing and linked with Steff Evans. Glasgow were scrambling.
When it came back inside, Davies was the man again and outside him, running free, was Evans, a piano player who just happened to be born with the body of a piano shifter. Over Evans went and over went Patchell’s conversion, too. The Scarlets led by 18.
The home crowd spent much of their time howling at the referee John Lacey. He was far from foot-perfect, but training their guns on an official when there was so much to rail against in their own team was a bit convenient. Glasgow were nowhere near their level.
Wayne Pivac’s boys scored a fourth try just after the break while Glasgow had Grigg in the bin. They drove a close-range line-out straight and true and Patchell’s conversion made it a whopping, and unimaginable, 28-3.
It was only when it was over as a contest that Glasgow stirred. Gray went over on the hour and went close to touching down again soon after. Grigg got a second Glasgow try with seven minutes left, but it was a score that did little to take the dirty look off the scoreboard from a home perspective. This was a sobering night against the champions.
Russell’s hopes of a fond farewell to Glasgow was reduced to rubble by a Scarlets side who now cruise on to their second successive final after their second successive away victory in a semi-final. Serious stuff from a serious team.
Glasgow: R Jackson; T Seymour, N Grigg, S Johnson, DTH van der Merwe; F Russell, G Horne; J Bhatti, F Brown, Z Fagerson; T Swinson, J Gray; M Fagerson, C Gibbins, R Wilson (capt).
Replacements: G Turner, A Allan, S Halanukonuka, R Harley, C Fusaro, H Pyrgos, P Horne.
Scarlets: J McNicholl; T Prydie, S Williams, H Parkes, S Evans; R Patchell, G Davies; R Evans, K Owens (capt), S Lee, T Beirne, S Cummins, A Shingler, J Davies, J Barclay.
Replacements: R Elias, W Jones, W Kruger, L Rawlins, W Boyde, J Evans, D Jones, S Hughes.
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (IRFU), Frank Murphy (IRFU)
TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)