Glasgow Warriors continue their tour of South Africa with a game against the Lions this weekend. 

They suffered defeat to Bulls last time out but did get two bonus points, and Kevin Millar takes a look ahead to this weekend's game. 

KO 3.05 at Emirates Airline Park
Saturday 18th May 2024

Live on Premier Sports 1

  • Duncan Weir’s penalty with time expired against the Bulls last weekend earned Glasgow a first ever losing bonus point on South African soil.
  • In fact, it is the first losing bonus point the Warriors’ have collected outside Scotland in the URC since a trip to Cardiff more than two years’ ago (26/3/22).
  • Allied to a try bonus, the two points collected in Pretoria are hugely significant, leaving Glasgow’s tilt at top spot in the URC entirely in their own hands.
  • The Warriors have collected match points from each of their last 13 away fixtures in the league – the longest such streak in the club’s history (8 wins, 5 losses, 11 try BPs, 2 losing BPs).
  • Against the Lions, just collecting one or two points is not enough. Victory is essential, ideally with a four try bonus to keep Glasgow at the top of the URC.

URC Top Four – Remaining Fixtures

Round 17



Edinburgh v MUNSTER

BULLS v Benetton

Round 18


LEINSTER v Connacht

MUNSTER v Ulster

Sharks v BULLS


Playoff Update:

There are just four points separating the URC’s top four teams with Glasgow on 60 points, Leinster 59, Munster 58 and Bulls 56.

The Warriors know that two more wins will guarantee them at least second place (Munster could match 68 points but Glasgow would take the first tiebreaker with 14 wins to 13).

A brace of bonus point victories will put the Scottish side on 70 points – a tally no other team can equal.

Looking at the remaining fixtures, they have previously won nine out of nine at home to Zebre, with all but one of those victories being accompanied by a try bonus point.

They haven’t managed a five-pointer in South Africa since they beat Cheetahs 52 – 24 back in September 2018. There’s also the small matter of Glasgow’s active seven game losing streak on their travels in the rainbow nation.

Those are just a couple of the reasons why Saturday’s encounter with the Lions looms large as one of the biggest regular season fixtures in the Warriors’ history and a real test of how far they have developed over the last 12 months.

How important is this game? Well here is a potential route to the URC title following a first place finish:

Ulster (home) > Bulls (home) > Leinster (home)

Compare and contrast to this possible series of games to be crowned champions from fourth place:

Stormers (home) > Leinster (away) > Munster (away)

There will be no easy fixtures in the playoffs but home advantage throughout would be a massive boost to Glasgow’s chances.

It is still possible (though surely reasonably unlikely given current form) that one or more of the other top four sides might drop points. That’s not something that should be entering Glasgow’s thinking though.

Even setting aside the race for the highest possible seeding, with all the benefits that brings, the playoffs are looming and teams need to head into them in top form.

Leaping, not limping, into the post season is the order of the day with ever tougher tests to come.

URC form:

Scotland Rugby News:

Track record…

…away to South African sides in the PRO14/URC era:

  • 2 wins
  • 7 losses
  • 5 Try BPs
  • 1 Losing BP
  • 14 points out of a possible 45 (31%)

Previous match-up v Lions in South Africa:

Lions at Home:

The Lions have a strong home record, although three of the four Irish provinces (Ulster, Leinster and, most recently, Munster) have won at Emirates Airline Park across the last two seasons.

Tries galore tend to be the order of the day in Johannesburg, particularly for the home side who have collected try bonus points in eight of their last ten matches on their own turf.

Both Munster and the Bulls managed to come away with wins after shutting down the Lions’ potent attacking game – restricting them to just a single try in the final quarter of those matches.

Getting through the early stages with their goalline intact could be a massive factor for Glasgow on Saturday. Throughout this season, the Lions’ way has been to blast out of the blocks and then finish strong. Their tries scored by quarter are:

  • 1st quarter – 13 tries
  • 2nd quarter – 3 tries
  • 3rd quarter – 5 tries
  • 4th quarter – 17 tries

With altitude being a factor, the Warriors probably cannot afford for their hosts to be in the game with 20 to go. The best route to victory would seem to be the way Munster and the Bulls did it, by controlling the scoreboard out of the gate.

The Stormers did manage to edge a shootout at Ellis Park (33 – 35) and Glasgow certainly have the ability to go toe to toe and trade try for try. The Lions’ strength in the home straight would make that a much more nervy way to attempt to find a vital win though.


Referee: Craig Evans (WRU, 56th league game)
AR1: Morne Ferreira (SARU)
AR2: Hanru Van Rooyen (SARU)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)

Mr Evans’ regular season record for 2023/24:

  • Matches – 12
  • Average penalty count – 20.0 per game
  • Home side penalties conceded percentage – 49.6%
  • Average card count – 1.1 per game
  • Penalties per card – 20.0

The referee and TMO swap roles from Glasgow’s game last week against the Bulls. Although this puts the less experienced man in charge, it’s possibly a positive change with Mr Evans one of the league’s up and coming young officials and a solid performer.

The Welsh whistler has either been on an extended tour of South Africa or has fairly racked up the air miles recently. Not only was he involved in the Warriors’ game seven days ago but he also took charge as the Lions lost at home to Munster a fortnight earlier in Round 15.

He awarded a crucial penalty try to the Irish side – and a yellow card against their hosts – during that previous match at Emirates Airline Park. Glasgow themselves already have no fewer than five penalty tries on the board this season and certainly wouldn’t say no to another on Saturday afternoon…

This will be the fourth time that Mr Evans has reffed a Lions’ game during 2023/24 so they have had plenty of prep. The season opener against Leinster is his only other Warriors’ action during the current campaign but he was a regular last season with three matches.

There should be no surprises for either side this weekend.

Additional ref stats from: