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Pisi double springboards Saints to comeback victory

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

The Samoan, who was making his comeback after missing the last two games, crossed for two tries inside the last four minutes of the first half. And to say that they were crucial in the balance of this contest would be nothing short of a spectacular understatement.


Glasgow had headed south on the back of four straight Pro 12 victories, and in the opening half-hour the Warriors showed the power, accuracy and quality which had earned them wins at the Arms Park and Liberty Stadium earlier in the season.


Just about everything went their way in those first 30 minutes, something typified by a speculative Ruaridh Jackson that looked to be heading touch in goal only to bounce out centimetres on the right side (from a Scot perspective, anyway) of the corner flag.


But it was not just about luck. The Warriors were on top at the breakdown and getting the decisions at scrum time, with the Saints struggling to adapt to referee Romain Poite's cadences. And they were playing really well in general play, too, stretching the Saints at every opportunity and trying to keep the ball away from the hosts' perceived strength around the fringes.


After coming close through flanker John Barclay - who had come within a couple of metres of the line before being turned over by Rhys Oakley - Glasgow got their reward with two tries in four minutes for flanker Josh Strauss and wing Sean Lamont, who marked his first return to Franklin's Gardens with a powerful effort in the left corner.


Both started from lineouts, and the finishes were out of the top drawer, and with centre Peter Horne adding a conversion and a penalty the vast majority of the 12,115 Gardens faithful had been stunned into silence.


At 15-0 down and with the Warriors very much on the up the situation looked ominous. But Saints had shown that they could be dangerous, not least when the Barclay turnover sparked a 90-metre attack only ended by a desperate three-man tackle on Ken Pisi.


The Heineken man of the match also had a try ruled out by the TMO after perceptive approach play from Phil Dowson and a superb Vasily Artemyev off-load. So as half-time approached it was no surprise to see him come off his wing to play important roles in both of the Saints' two opening scores.


In the first he ran a great running line to support Samu Manoa's powerful break, and in the second his pace made the most of a defender's slip to create a multi-player overlap and a simple finish for the Samoan's elder brother.


This second try was straightforward, but the first owed more than a little to luck and awareness, with George recovering his own attempted pass to Artemyev which had rebounded off a Warrior to power his way over.


Stephen Myler's conversion meant that from having seemed down and out just five minutes earlier Saints were very much back in the contest at half-time, trailing by just the three points.


Then after the fly half made it three tries inside seven minutes of action early in the second half Saints did not look back. Whereas in the first half they had been undone by inaccuracy and some poor discipline, after the break the Saints stepped up the power and intensity to rock the Warriors back time and again.


The middle of the ruck proved fruitful, with one tight five forward after another making metres time and again. And it was a combination of this power from Soane Tonga'uiha and Dylan Hartley and some great hands from Brian Mujati which put Myler over unopposed.


Saints had the wind in their sails and were soon back on the visitors' line. This time they were foiled by some powerful defence, and when Saints' ambition started seeing balls hit the deck instead of the hands the Warriors all of a sudden looked like they might get a score of their own.


However they had suffered a setback thanks to Jackson's enforced replacement at half-time, and when the outstanding Lamont also picked up a knock midway through the half the experience and play-making ability was notable by its absence. Lamont's departure was compounded by the Warriors' coaches decision to split the bench six/two between forwards and backs.


With Peter Murchie having come on for Stuart Hogg in the first half, and Niko Matawalu replacing Jackson, Glasgow were forced to put flanker Chris Fusaro onto the wing. The mismatch in pace soon sold, with Myler coming into the line from full back to put Artemyev over in the left corner.


The try may have been finished out wide, but credit should be paid to the pack, which not just drove Hartley to within a few inches of the line but maintained the pressure on Glasgow to force the lineout inside the visitors' 22 that led directly to the Russian's score.


Myler had moved to the back to accommodate James Wilson's departure, with Ryan Lamb coming on at pivot. And it was Lamb who stepped up to land the touchline conversion which put Saints out of sight and send them to France next Friday in good spirits.


TIMELINE

18mins GLASGOW Pen Horne 0-3

24mins GLASGOW Try Strauss Con Horne 0-10

28mins GLASGOW Try Lamont 0-15

31mins SAINTS Miss pen Myler

36mins SAINTS Try G Pisi 5-15

40mins SAINTS Try G Pisi Con Myler 12-15

HALF-TIME SAINTS 12 GLASGOW 15

43mins SAINTS Try Myler 17-15

63mins SAINTS Miss pen Myler

70mins SAINTS Try Artemyev Con Lamb 24-15

FULL-TIME SAINTS 24 GLASGOW 15