George Turner may have missed Scotland’s pivotal Rugby World Cup pool clash with Japan but he delivered when it really counted for Glasgow Warriors on Saturday.
The hooker, who has nine international caps to his name so far, will be hoping to have given himself a chance of getting back in favour with Gregor Townsend ahead of the Guinness Six Nations after he sealed a dramatic late win over Edinburgh in the 1872 Cup.
Ali Price also missed that match after breaking his foot in Scotland’s opener with Ireland but he made up for lost time by dotting down himself in a thrilling contest.
77′ | TRY!!! Glasgow set up a maul and drive over with George Turner dotting the ball down. Adam Hastings adds the extras from the touch line!
— Glasgow Warriors (@GlasgowWarriors) December 21, 2019
Warriors had trailed 9-6 going into the final 15 minutes but this last quarter of an hour proved enthralling and decisive as a series of end-to-end attacks culminated in Turner being at the right place at the right time to dot down at the end of a rolling maul.
It was a weekend of derby fixtures in the Guinness PRO14 and, over in Ireland, Jack Carty got on the scoresheet but could not prevent Connacht from falling to a 19-14 defeat to a clinical Munster side who had Jack O’Donoghue to thank for their only try.
In Wales, it took a last gasp drop goal from Sam Davies to see Dragons through to a nail-biting 22-20 win over Scarlets after Gareth Davies and Ken Owens had given the visitors the lead in an absorbing contest.
In the Premiership, Kyle Sinckler put a marker down after returning to club action for the first time since being knocked unconscious in the third minute of the World Cup final.
The tighthead prop was one of the stars of England’s run to the showpiece finale in Japan in the autumn and Eddie Jones will surely be encouraged by his performance for Harlequins with one eye on the looming Guinness Six Nations.
Sinckler was a constant menace as he helped Paul Gustard’s side come from 17-0 behind to beat Wasps 28-22 at the Ricoh Arena.
Despite being bombarded in a first half of one way traffic, the visitors secured a second successive narrow Premiership win before an array of tries either side of half-time blitzed Quins into a lead they just about held on to.
Sinckler, with 11 carries, eight tackles and 13 metres gained, shone throughout and claimed the third try in his team’s comeback when he blitzed his way through a huge gap in the Wasps defence.
Great performance from the boys. Thanks to all the travelling fans. Wishing everyone a merry Christmas. Love Sink ❤️ pic.twitter.com/M6aWMKGNhf
— Kyle Sinckler (@KyleSinckler) December 21, 2019
Elsewhere, another of England’s World Cup stars was is fine form as Jonny May crossed twice but it was not enough to prevent his Leicester Tigers side going down to Exeter Chiefs 31-22.
Leicester’s difficult season continued as, despite building up an impressive 19-7 lead, they could not stop an Exeter barrage.
The hosts had their full complement of six England World Cup players in tow at Welford Road and it showed as they scored three tries in 13 minutes, which included May’s double.
The lightning fast winger’s first was all thanks to the pace of Tongan international Telusa Veainu exposing the Chiefs out wide before setting May up but his second was a remarkable finish, as he bounced through three tacklers and pirouetted off the ground to stretch and dot down.
And there were further positives on show for England as Saracens put seven tries past Bristol Bears to win 47-13.
Bristol actually started the stronger and took the lead but Mako Vunipola got his side back on track with the first try of the game for the hosts, while Owen Farrell and Elliot Daly registered six conversions between them.
Meanwhile, on Friday, it was a case of two youngsters pressing their respective Guinness Six Nations claims.
Welsh teenage sensation Louis Rees-Zammit was again on fire as he scored two tries and set up another in Gloucester’s 36-3 win over Worcester Warriors – a performance which will no doubt continue to stoke the momentum behind calls for his inclusion at international level.
It’s that man again!
— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) December 20, 2019
And 20-year-old Irish fly-half Harry Byrne was exemplary as Leinster built up a head of steam in the opening half an hour as they beat Ulster 54-42 in a fast-paced high-scoring encounter.
France centre Virimi Vakatawa scored one of two tries for Racing 92 as they made a wasteful Montpellier pay in a 29-25 triumph, with Maxime Machenaud’s kicking game also brilliant.
While, in Italy Marco Riccioni and Braam Steyn combined for 32 tackles between them as Benetton’s rear-guard helped them to a 13-8 win over Zebre.