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Glasgow Warriors go down fighting in La Rochelle

By PA
Glasgow's Matt Fagerson runs with the ball during the European Rugby Champions Cup 1st round day pool A rugby union match between La Rochelle and Glasgow Warriors (Photo by XAVIER LEOTY / AFP) (Photo by XAVIER LEOTY/AFP via Getty Images)

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Glasgow suffered a 20-13 Heineken Champions Cup defeat away to last season’s finalists La Rochelle after the hosts plundered 10 match-winning points when Rory Drage was in the sin bin for collapsing a maul.

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Having twice led in the game at Stade Marcel Deflandre, there was no way back after that for the Warriors, who at least left with a losing bonus point.

They will now have to beat Exeter at home next weekend to stand any real chance of progressing.

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Returning to the ground where they won 27-24 two years ago, Glasgow got off to a great start as they kept the ball alive for almost two minutes from the kick-off to put the home side under immediate pressure.

Their brave approach meant they enjoyed 64 per cent possession in the opening quarter and led 6-0 thanks to two penalties from young outside half Ross Thompson.

The first came after sixth minutes when home lock Romain Sazy came in at the side of a maul, while the second followed a major try-scoring opportunity created off first phase. Kyle Steyn came off his wing to make a break up the middle and good hands created a two-on-one out wide, only for Scott Cummings to go into contact and lose the chance.

The referee went back for an earlier penalty infringement in the move and Thompson made in 6-0 after 13 minutes. The Glasgow number 10 had a third shot from long distance, but failed to hit the mark.

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La Rochelle finished the first half strongly and took the lead just after the half-hour mark when prop Reda Wardi was driven over from a five metre line-out.

Ihaia West added a wide-angled conversion and then stroked over a 40-metre penalty to give his side a 10-6 lead at the break.

West was just wide with a 52-metre monster attempt at the start of the second half, but it was Glasgow who picked up the first points after the break.

Having earned a penalty in front of the home posts five metres out, they turned down the automatic three points and went for a tap penalty.

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George Turner led the charge and their bravery was rewarded when skipper for the day Ali Price chipped across the try line to allowed Steyn to rise highest and get the ball down for the try.

Thompson kept his nerve to add the extras from the right and – with 50 minutes gone – Glasgow were back in the lead.

To stay there they needed to keep the power-packed home pack at bay and their cause was dented when they lost Darge to a yellow card for collapsing a driving maul five metres out.

La Rochelle went for a scrum and fashioned a try in the right corner for Fijian wing Eneriko Buliruarua, while West converted off the touchline and then added a penalty soon after as the home side celebrated their victory.

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