Glasgow stun Bulls in Pretoria to win URC final

Glasgow Warriors celebrate winning the URC
Glasgow won their second title the hard way, going away to Bulls [Getty Images]

United Rugby Championship Grand Final

Bulls: (13) 16

Tries: Van Standen Cons: Goosen Pens: Goosen 3

Glasgow Warriors: (7) 21

Tries: Cummings, Turner, Jones Cons: Horne 3

Glasgow Warriors produced a storming second-half display to overpower the Bulls in the United Rugby Championship final.

Trailing 13-0 after 40 minutes in Pretoria, Glasgow outscored the South African side three tries to one, with Scott Cummings, George Turner and Huw Jones touching down.

A late yellow card for Tom Jordan offered the Bulls hope at their sold-out home ground, but the depleted Warriors held firm for a second title success.

The 2015 champions had beaten Stormers - winners in 2022 - and the 2023 winners, Munster, to reach their fourth final since 2014.

But, playing at altitude, nearly 9,000 miles from home, in front of a raucous 52,000 fans, few gave Glasgow a chance of a first victory on South African soil in almost six years.

And the odds looked even steeper after a nervous opening from the visitors.

A penalty conceded from the opening kick of the match allowed Johan Goosen to knock over the first of his three penalties.

The Bulls kept coming and Marco van Standen burrowed through to score from a well-worked line-out moments after Wilco Louw had been held up by Rory Darge.

A surge from Sebastian Cancelliere offered a route back but Glasgow captain Kyle Steyn was stopped a few metres out.

Then, with the first-half clock in the red, Matt Fagerson found a gap and Cummings plunged over from close range for a crucial score.

Glasgow were full of rumbling menace in first 10 minutes after the interval without troubling the scoreboard, and missed opportunities were punished as Goosen stretched Bulls' lead.

However, Glasgow hit back immediately, with replacement hooker Turner applying the finishing touch to a rolling maul from line-out in his last game for the club before a move to Japan.

Warriors then moved in front for the first time against the tiring hosts.

Josh McKay made gathering a bouncing ball look easy and Steyn set Jones on his way for a composed score.

The home party at Loftus Versfeld had gone quiet and there was near silence as Jack Dempsey galloped half the length of the pitch to get under the posts, only for his lung-bursting effort to be ruled out for a Turner tackle without the ball.

Glasgow were dominant, although there was more anguish when a long-range penalty from George Horne dropped agonisingly short.

A 78th-minute turnover was celebrated like a try, but the Warriors' joy was short-lived as a review led to Jordan leaving the pitch for a high hit.

Bulls kicked to touch twice in a tense finale, the crowd roaring them on, but Glasgow found the strength to hold them at bay for a famous victory.

Smith takes Warriors to 'next level'

Glasgow selected the same starting XV for the third successive knockout match and there were so many heroes as they absorbed a strong Bulls start to turn the tables in emphatic fashion.

Dempsey was a tower of strength, as was prop Zander Fagerson, who lasted the full 80 minutes plus change to put in an enormous shift.

"I don't have the words to praise Zander," said former Warriors captain Fraser Brown during BBC Radio Scotland coverage. "He's just an unbelievable athlete.

"The conditioning staff have done an incredible job because this is a Glasgow team that couldn't get past 50 minutes two years ago.

"Now they are the best in the URC by a country mile."

Ex-Scotland skipper John Barclay echoed those sentiments, telling Premier Sports: "They dominated that second half. The stats showed it, double the metres carried.

"So much credit has to go to Franco Smith to turn that team around in the space of a couple of years.

"They had a lot of potential but he's taken them to the next level and made them more resilient, more robust."

'Warriors can go further still'

Glasgow head coach Franco Smith told Premier Sports: "The half-time chat was easy. We knew we had a good plan for the second half. We let them in through our own errors, like last week (away to Munster). They stuck to the script.

"There's a lot to be said about the hard edge of the European teams and we brought it tonight, especially in the last 10-15 minutes.

"We defended our line well and applied a lot of pressure to the maul. The boys fronted up to a very strong South African team with 50,000 people behind them. They can be very proud.

"This team shouldn't be done after tonight. We've got the building blocks to go further still."

Bulls: Williams, Peterson, Kriel, Vorster, Arendse, Goosen, Papier, Steenkamp, Grabbelaar, W Louw, Vermaak, Nortje (capt), Van Staden, E Louw, Hanekom.

Replacements: Van der Merwe, Matanzima, Klopper, Ludwig, Carr, Burger, Smith, Smit.

Glasgow Warriors: McKay, Cancelliere, Jones, Tuipulotu, Steyn (capt), Jordan, Horne; Bhatti, Matthews, Z Fagerson, Cummings, Gray, M Fagerson, Darge, Dempsey.

Replacements: Turner, McBeth, Kebble, Williamson, Ferrie, Venter, Dobie, Weir.