Seven-try spree sees impressive Glasgow go three from three

Zander Fagerson hospitalised with leg injury as Warriors take over at top of Conference A

Ali Price
Ali Price shows his delight as he scores one of his two tries against the Cheetahs. Image: Frikkie Kapp/Fotosport

CHEETAHS 24

GLASGOW WARRIORS 52

GLASGOW made it three victories from three starts in some style last night, running in seven tries against opponents who for a time in the first half threatened to cause an upset before running out of steam in the second. Three of those tries came in the opening stages of the second half when the Cheetahs had a man in the sinbin, and once that sizeable lead had been established the Warriors were never in danger of relinquishing it.

The only real downside of the evening was the lower-leg injury which saw Zander Fagerson first carried off the Bloemfontein pitch and then taken to hospital. Speaking immediately after the game, Warriors coach Dave Rennie said it was too early to tell the precise nature of the injury, but at first glance there would seem to be a risk of the tighthead prop’s being sidelined for several weeks at least.

Apart from that concern, Rennie was quietly satisfied with the display from his team, who are now out on their own at the top of PRO14 Conference A and go on to play the Southern Kings next Saturday. “We knew, regardless of their recent form, that it was going to be tough,” the coach said, referring to the Cheetahs’ losses at Munster and Ospreys. “We made a couple of errors in the first half and they’ve got so much gas that they kicked and chased well and they profited off it.

“We’re a fit side, and in the second half it was easier to control the pace of the game – we controlled the ball better. We forced them to make a lot of tackles, and that told on them in the second half.”

Rennie’s men had won narrowly on their last visit to Bloemfontein, beating the Cheetahs 29-26 last October. This time round they were more prepared for the effects of altitude, and their stay in Johannesburg appears to have stood them in good stead.

The Warriors pack had been very impressive a week earlier at home to Munster, and they resumed in this game where they had left off, building a platform for the opening try in just over a minute. Steady recycling took the forwards deep into the Cheetahs half, and when the ball came out to Adam Hastings the stand-off needed no more than a hint of a dummy to ghost through a gap in the home defence.


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Hastings added the conversion, and when Glasgow quickly went back on the offensive it looked for a short while as if the Cheetahs would have no answer to their power. That might have been the case If the attack had remained error-free, but instead the South Africans soon demonstrated that they had the skill and the sheer speed to exploit the slightest slip.

Their first scoring chance came when DTH van der Merwe knocked on from a Pete Horne pass deep inside the Cheetahs’ half, and they took it in devastating style, with William Small-Smith rounding off the counter-attack in the right corner. Tian Schoeman, back on after needing brief treatment for injury, was wide with the conversion attempt.

The Cheetahs’ next try was born of a similarly slack moment from Glasgow. The visiting pack went through 10 phases as they maintained the upper hand in the arm wrestle, but then they lost patience as the try line beckoned – and lost possession too. A half-break and a crossfield kick were all it took for the Cheetahs to turn defence into devastating attack, and full-back Malcolm Jaer chased down the kick to score unopposed.

Glasgow’s need to tighten things up became even more urgent when Alex Dunbar was yellow-carded for a high tackle, and they rose to the challenge well, scoring while a man down and giving nothing away. The pack again built the platform, winning a series of penalties in the Cheetahs 22. Tommy Seymour then got over the line only to be held up, but the score was only delayed, as Ali Price passed to Rob Harley and the flanker popped up a pass out of the tackle for the scrum-half to finish then Hastings to convert.

Cheetahs take the lead

Curiously, Glasgow were not back at full strength for long before they conceded, as Schoeman shrugged off a tackle from Harley and put Nico Lee in. That put the Cheetahs 19-14 ahead, and they maintained their lead until half-time – only to lose their hard-won advantage in a manic spell at the opening of the second 40.

The trouble began within a minute of the restart, when Jaer was sinbinned for taking out Seymour in the air. Before the South Africans had time to reorganise, Seymour himself took advantage of a massive gap in the defence, crossing between the posts off a lineout.

Five minutes later, Price got his second from an Alex Allan pass as the Cheetahs still struggled to realign their defence, and the bonus point was in the bag. Play was halted while Fagerson was attended to on the pitch and eventually taken off, then Hastings made it four out of four with the conversion.

DTH Van der Merwe put the Warriors firmly in control with the fifth try, scored in the left corner from a looping pass by Pete Horne. Jaer then got his second to give his team a glimmer of hope, but a Hastings penalty just inside the final quarter reasserted his team’s control of the contest.

Captain Callum Gibbins had been denied a try by the TMO in the build-up to that penalty, but he was not to be stopped quarter of an hour from time, running in an easy score. Finally, with both teams unsurprisingly running out of steam, George Horne rounded off the scoring in the corner, with the scoring pass coming from Gibbins. Hastings made it eight out of eight with the boot.

 

Cheetahs: M Jaer; W Small-Smith, B van Rensburg, N Lee, R Maxwane; T Schoeman, T Meyer; C Marais, J Dweba, A Coetzee, W Steenkamp, J du Preez, G Olivier, J Pokomela,  A Davis. Subs: J du Toit, O Nche, G van Rensburg, D Visser, N Jordaan, M van der Merwe, S Venter, R Eksteen.

Glasgow Warriors: R Jackson; T Seymour, A Dunbar, P Horne, D van der Merwe; A Hastings, A Price; O Kebble, F Brown, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, J Gray, R Harley, C Gibbins, A Ashe. Subs: G Turner, A Allan, D Rae, M Fagerson, C Fusaro, G Horne, N Frisby, H Jones.

Scorers: Cheetahs: Tries: Small-Smith, Jaer 2, Lee. Con: B van Rensburg, Schoeman.

Glasgow: Tries: Hastings, Price 2, Seymour, Van der Merwe, Gibbins, G Horne. Cons: Hastings 7. Pen: Hastings.

Scoring sequence (Cheetahs first): 0-5, 0-7, 5-7, 10-7, 12-7, 12-12,  12-14, 17-14, 19-14 half-time, 19-19, 19-21, 19-26, 19-28, 19-33, 19-35, 24-35, 24-38, 24-43, 24-45, 24-50, 24-52.

Referee: F Murphy (Ireland).


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About Stuart Bathgate 1212 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.