Glasgow Warriors 29
LEWIS STUART @ Scotstoun
MISTAKES, loads of them, from Glasgow Warriors, but against one of the weakest teams in the Guinness PRO14 they had just enough class to pull clear of their Welsh opponents and come away with a bonus point. True, wind and rain made conditions tricky, but Glasgow must know that that if they do the same in a fortnight against Saracens then will be lucky to come away with anything at all.
“I thought our defence was excellent, we played the game at the right end of the field and the set piece was great once we adjusted the scrum to the way the referee wanted it,” said Dave Rennie, the head coach, afterwards. “We still need to be a bit more clinical. We had a few more opportunities and should have taken them, but we got a lot better balance once we got down their end in the second half and started to go through the middle before exposing them on the outside.
“We missed a few opportunities in the first half. They were trying conditions, but we created lots of opportunities, which we are happy about, but we want to be more clinical.
“Having said that, if we had put 50 on the board, that would not be good for us either. We had to work for that and are happy with a bonus-point win, but we’ll have to be better next week and the week after.”
After last week’s embarrassing defeat in South Africa, Glasgow were always likely to start at a huge rate of knots, which is exactly what they did. Only seconds into the game, Adam Hastings almost put Niko Matawalu in, only for the wing to get scragged from behind, aim his pass at Huw Jones’s ankles and see it put down.
Not that it mattered much. From the attacking position, Glasgow soon forced a lineout, drove it once to get into midfield, and Ali Price found Oli Kebble, the prop on the charge, to crash through some weak tackling and go over for the opening try.
That should have settled them; instead the opposite happened and the mistakes started to flow. A lot came from finding themselves on a totally different wavelength to Stuart Berry, the referee, on what was allowed at the breakdown and scrum.
The penalties started to come against them and the Dragons grew into the game, reaping the reward on the scoreboard when Arwel Robson, the fly-half, landed two penalties to bring his side within a point as the half drew to a close.
Maybe it was imagining the roasting they were going to get at the break that did it, but late in the half, Glasgow suddenly remembered how to break open a defence. Hastings came on a loop round Alex Dunbar in the midfield to force the defence to mark him as he found Lee Jones on the wing with space to step inside the cover and claim the second try.
Turning into the wind, Glasgow realised they had to do the rest the hard way, and again found the energy for a quick start. This time it was Dunbar who did the hard work as he carried the ball into traffic, and his offload to Lee Jones handed the wing his second try of the night.
Hastings missed both conversions so the Dragons were still in the game – even more so when Ryan Wilson, the flanker, dropped the ball in midfield, Jarryd Sage hacked it downfield and Adam Warren, his centre colleague, won the race to collect the ball and touch down. It seemed to be only a blip for Glasgow, however.
They worked their way back upfield to camp on the Dragons’ line for an extended attack. In the end, the ball came back for Hastings to spot space for Huw Jones, who slipped past Jared Rosser in midfield to race in for the bonus-point try.
Hastings could still not manage the tricky conversion – his third miss of the night after coming into the game with a 100 per cent record from the tee – leaving the Scots only nine points ahead as the match made its way into the final 10 minutes.
Glasgow could have eased themselves further ahead, but spurned an easy penalty to go for the corner and then made a mess of the line-out. It was a passage of play that could have summed up a great deal of Glasgow’s performance on the night.
Dunbar grabbed Warriors’ fifth try in the final minute of the match, with Hastings knocking over the conversion for good measure.
Glasgow Warriors: R Jackson (B Thomson 72); L Jones, H Jones (N Grigg 63), A Dunbar, N Matawalu; A Hastings , A Price (G Horne 63); O Kebble (A Allan 67), F Brown (G Turner 63), D Rae (A Nicol 72), R Harley (A Davidson 63), J Gray, R Wilson, C Gibbins, M Fagerson (C Fusaro 68).
Dragons: J Williams; D Howells (W Talbot-Davies 50), A Warren, J Sage, J Rosser; A Robson (J Lewis 26), T Knoyle; R Bevington (B Harris 50), R Hibbard (E Dee 8), L Fairbrother (A Jarvis 50), B Nansen (H Taylor 56), R Landman, A Wainwright (J Thomas 63), N Cudd, L Evans (J Thomas 28-31).
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa).
Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Kebble, L Jones 2, H Jones, Dunbar; Cons: Hastings 2.
Dragons: Try: Warren; Con: Thomas; Pens: Robson 2.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow Warriors first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-3; 7-6; 12-6 (h-t) 17-6; 17-11; 17-13; 22-13, 27-13; 29-13.
Man of the Match: A front-row try and a dominant scrum performance made it a solid night’s work for Oli Kebble.
Talking point: Far from a vintage Glasgow performance but they had the killer touch when it mattered and that was enough.