La Rochelle 24-27 Glasgow Warriors: Scots keep Heineken Champions Cup hopes alive
|Heineken Champions Cup Pool 2|
|La Rochelle: (18) 24|
|Tries: Priso, Kieft Cons: Plisson Pens: Plisson 4|
|Glasgow Warriors: (13) 27|
|Tries: Gibbins, Matawalu, Steyn Cons: Hastings 3 Pens: Hastings 2|
Glasgow came through a frenzied contest with La Rochelle to make it two wins from three in the Champions Cup.
The visitors were fortunate to only trail by five points at the interval, with Callum Gibbins' score coming after tries from Dany Priso and Zeno Kieft.
Niko Matawalu's 80m breakaway try brought Glasgow within striking distance and substitute Kyle Steyn's touchdown proved decisive.
Glasgow then needed to dig deep to repel the hosts in the closing minutes.
The sides meet again at Scotstoun next weekend, with La Rochelle now out of the running after three defeats.
Glasgow's form so far this season has been ropey to say the least. Three wins from seven in the Pro14 has left them with a huge job on their hands to reach the play-offs, while defeat by Exeter in their last European outing meant victory in France was really the only option to aid their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.
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Adam Hastings had kicked Warriors into an early lead but the fly-half was one of several defenders at fault as La Rochelle wing Vincent Rattez sliced through before a stunning reverse pass sent hulking prop Priso thundering under the posts.
Silencing the home support is key to any success on French soil but the home fans sensed Glasgow were there for the taking early on. Only a superb Fraser Brown turnover near the Warriors line prevented a certain try for the home side.
La Rochelle were on top and third-choice fly-half Jules Plisson punished Glasgow indiscipline with two penalties to open up a 13-3 lead.
Hastings' penalty provided some welcome relief, though Glasgow were indebted to Alex Allan for a last-ditch tackle to prevent Victor Vito from going over.
The tide was yellow heading towards the Warriors' line and when the second La Rochelle try arrived the Scottish side had only themselves to blame.
Scott Cummings brilliantly stole a line-out on the Glasgow 5m line, but DTH van der Merwe and George Horne got themselves into a horrible mix-up and Kieft gleefully gathered a bobbling ball to score.
These were now big moments for Glasgow in the context of the game and their season and Gibbins' try from a rolling line-out maul right on half-time was just what his side needed from their captain.
Plisson struck from the tee early in the second half as the Top 14 side once again subjected Glasgow to sustained pressure in their own territory.
Just when it appeared the Warriors dam would burst, Matawalu intercepted Victor Vito's pass and raced the length of the field for a try entirely against the run of play.
Plisson's penalty restored La Rochelle's four-point cushion but the tide had turned. Cummings rampaged through a hole and was chopped down just short, while Nick Grigg almost finished off a slick back-line move.
Some of Hastings' kicking from hand was loose, but he put a cross-field pass-kick right on the money for Steyn, who finished brilliantly to nudge the Warriors ahead.
This was breathless stuff. La Rochelle were awarded an eminently kickable penalty that would have levelled things up but elected to go for the corner, only to be denied by some more excellent Warriors scramble defence.
Still La Rochelle came. Rattez looked to be heading for the corner for a match-winning try until Ali Price made an extraordinary recovery tackle.
Surely that was an end to the drama? Not quite. La Rochelle were awarded one last penalty and sent a line-out maul rumbling towards the Glasgow line which was repelled.
And still there was time for a 5m scrum to the home side. Again Glasgow stood tall on a day where they simply refused to be denied.
A victory founded on incredible grit and determination. It could prove to be the turning point in Glasgow's season.
Glasgow Warriors: Seymour, Matawalu, Grigg, Johnson, Van der Merwe, Hastings, G Horne, Allan, Brown, Z Fagerson, Cummings, Gray, Wilson, Gibbins (capt), M Fagerson.
Replacements: Turner, Seiuli, Nicol, Harley, Gordon, Price, P Horne, Steyn.
La Rochelle: Murimurivalu, Rattez, Sinzelle, Aguillon, Pierre Boudehent, Plisson, Bales;Priso, Orioli, Herrera, Jolmes, Tanguy, Kieft, Gourdon, Vito (capt).
Replacements: Lebrun, Wardi, Puafisi, Lavault, Paul Boudehent, Kerr-Barlow, James, Plessis.