Glasgow Warriors 35
Toyota Cheetahs 17
DAVID BARNES @ Scotstoun
DAVE RENNIE’S men consolidated their position at the summit of Conference A of the Guinness PRO14 with a comfortable bonus-point victory in which a number of players, including centre duo Stafford McDowall and Kyle Steyn, made strong cases for inclusion in the line-up to take on Saracens at Allianz Park next weekend in the quarter-final of the European Champions Cup.
The head coach was satisfied but not elated by his team’s performance. “We’ll need to be better next week,” he said. “I was pretty happy with what we did with the ball tonight. We carried pretty strong, we generated quick ball and when we hung onto possession we put them under pressure.
“But I was disappointed with the amount of loose kicks, especially in the second half when we just gave possession back to a team who are incredibly dangerous from turnover pill and broken-field play. You’ve got to kick smart and it’s going to be important next week against Saracens, so we need to be sharper around that.”
Adam Hastings, who came on for Peter Horne in the 52nd minute, was chief culprit when it came to that loose kicking. Whether his mixed-bag performance is enough to scupper his chances of starting against Saracens could well depend on how Horne recovers from the knee knock he picked up in this game. “Hopefully he will be alright but I’m not sure of the extent of it,” said Rennie, before discussing his options at 12 and 13 next week.
“Stafford has been excellent, hasn’t he? He has a really good skill-set, a big work-rate and defends well. Kyle slotted in nicely at outside-centre for us – he’s a powerful man who carries hard and defends well. With the injuries we’ve got at centre with Nick Grigg and Huw Jones, it could well end up being Stafford and Sam Johnson in midfield … or Kyle, although he could also end up on the wing.”
Warriors took a fifth minute lead when Callum Gibbins – on his return after two months out with an ankle injury – burst from the back of a driven line-out and over the whitewash, with Horne the conversion.
Cheetahs bounced back on 14 minutes thanks to a powerful surge up the right touchline from William Small-Smith, who handed off Ruaridh Jackson on his way to the line, but Warriors were soon back on the front foot when Steyn made the initial break then appeared again later in the move to hit a great angle at pace, brushing off one tackler and bouncing another on his way over the line.
South African-born, Scottish-qualified Steyn was heavily involved again in try number three, carrying hard to within five metres before presenting on the deck for Rory Hughes to pick up and scamper over.
Cheetahs lost loose-head Charles Marais to the sin-bin five minutes before half-time after referee George Clancy was encouraged by Warriors hooker Fraser Brown to escalate sanctions after some scrappy scrummaging, but the visitors emerged from that period with 14-men having improved their position on the scoreboard, thanks to a try from replacement hooker Joseph Dweba, who thundered through a gaping hole in the home team’s inside defence at the start of the second half.
Bonus point up
Warriors clinched the bonus point just before the hour mark. It looked like a sweeping home attack had faltered when Cheetahs managed to disrupt on the deck 15 yards from their own line, but the ball squirted loose towards and McDowall showed phenomenal power to carry Tian Schoeman on his back as he waded in for the score. Scott Cummings finished the home team’s account when he burst through three tackles with four minutes to go.
But it was the visitors who had the final say when Grant Stewart spilled the ball in his own 22 and Small-Smith capitalised in the corner for his second – and his team’s third – try of the night.
Glasgow Warriors: R Jackson; N Matawalu, K Steyn, S McDowall (P Kelly 75), R Hughes (R Nairn 70); P Horne (A Hastings 52), N Frisby; O Kebble (J Bhatti 60), F Brown (G Stewart 60), Z Fagerson (S Halanukonuka 66), T Swinson (B Flockhart 66), S Cummings, R Harley, C Gibbins (C Fusaro 66), M Fagerson.
Toyota Cheetahs: M Jaer; W Small-Smith (R Venter 39), B Janse van Rensburg, D Swanepoel, R Maxwane; T Schoeman, T Meyer (S Venter 46); C Marais, M van der Merwe, A Coetzee, S Manjezi, W Steenkamp, D Maartens (J Dweba 28), A Nonkontwana, H Venter.
Referee: G Clancy (Ireland)
Warriors: Tries: Gibbins, Steyn, Hughes, McDowall, Cummings; Cons: Horne 3, Hastings 2,
Cheetahs: Try: Small-Smith 2, Dweba; Con: Shoeman.
Scoring sequence (Warriors first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 12-5; 14-5; 19-5; 21-5 (h-t) 21-10; 21-12; 26-12; 28-12; 33-12; 35-12; 35-17.
Yellow cards –