Glasgow Warriors 43
Southern Kings 13
STUART BATHGATE @ Scotstoun
IT WAS a makeshift team and at times the performance reflected that, but in the end Glasgow Warriors had little trouble in claiming their seventh victory in seven PRO14 outings. They scored seven tries, too, grabbing the bonus point with around 20 minutes to go then running in three more late in the game as their opponents ran out of steam.
The Warriors, needless to say, are at the top of Conference A – and now 12 points clear of Munster, who lost to Connacht – while the Southern Kings are bottom of B and without a win to their name. The South Africans were in the lead for a while in the first half, but the only way they were ever going to be in contention when it counted was if Glasgow fell well below their own usual standards for a far bigger chunk of the game.
“I thought our big men up front did a good job,” Warriors coach Dave Rennie said. “I wasn’t happy at half-time – we were a little bit loose and gave the ball back to them too often. There were some good things we did tonight – there were some young men out on the park and they’ll learn a lot from it.”
Glasgow wasted no time in asserting themselves, taking the lead in 50 seconds through Stuart Hogg. Sam Johnson did most of the hard work, breaking all too easily through the Kings defence before delivering a scoring pass that looked a shade forward but was allowed to stand by referee Mike Adamson. The Kings thought they had equalised a few minutes later through Andisa Ntsila after some similarly slack defending from the home side, but the incident went to the TMO and the try was chalked off for a block by Luzuko Vulindlu on Adam Hastings.
The ease with which the Warriors had taken the lead suggested the game would be close to a training exercise, but by the midway point in the half that impression had been erased as the Kings steadily muscled their way back into contention. Masixole Banda got the South Africans on the board in the 13th minute after the Warriors were penalised for holding on, then nine minutes later the full-back nudged his team in front with another penalty, an impressive effort from close to halfway.
The sting had gone out of the game at that point, but a mass scrap in midfield then raised the temperature. Another Johnson break should have restored Glasgow’s lead, but his popped-up pass out of the tackle caught Matt Fagerson unawares and the ball bounced off the openside’s head before he fumbled forward in an effort to collect.
The writing was on the wall for the Kings by that stage, however, and two tries in three minutes just after the half-hour put the Warriors back in command. Niko Matawalu got the first from close range after Nick Grigg had been stopped just short, and then Grigg himself claimed the next after good work by George Horne. Adam Hastings converted both, and although Glasgow had to defend deep inside their own 22 as the half came to a close, they did not concede again before the break.
Still, although the game was under control and the bonus point in sight, it was clear that the Warriors would benefit from a bit more structure in the second half. They would back themselves to have superior firepower if it boiled down to a shoot-out between the two attacks, but the most reliable way to secure a result was to slow things down, go through the phases, and prove themselves the better side in every aspect of the game rather than just one.
But no matter what the Warriors might have planned to do in the second half, it was the Kings who had the better of almost the whole of the third quarter, with only some resolute defence denying them the score that would have rekindled their hopes. Then Matawalu sparked some life into his team with a lightning break, and although that move was snuffed out, the next attack produced the fourth try. After a solo run by George Horne was halted illegally, the penalty was kicked to touch, and cleanout lineout possession set up Zander Fagerson for an unstoppable five-metre run to the line.
With quarter of an hour to go, and just after Stafford McDowall had come on for his competitive debut as Rennie rang the changes, Matt Smith got the fifth try off the back of a lineout drive. The Warriors had been too loose by far, and deficient in other aspects, but they had once more proven themselves to be fitter than their opponents, and they rammed that advantage home a couple of minutes later with another short-range try, this time from Horne.
Jacques Nel grabbed a late score for the visitors with an interception of a McDowall pass, but was then yellow-carded for the last couple of minutes. The Warriors again went to touch with the penalty, and George Turner got on the score sheet this time, with Ruaridh Jackson converting in the last kick of the game.
Glasgow Warriors: S Hogg; L Jones, N Grigg, S Johnson, N Matawalu; G Horne, A Hastings; A Allan, P MacArthur, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, J Gray, R Hartley, M Smith, M Fagerson. Substitutes: G Turner, L Masaga, R Jackson, R Grant, G Peterson, S McDowall, A Nicol, L Wynne.
Southern Kings: M Banda; Y Penxe, B Klaasen, L Vulindlu, A Bock; M du Toit, R van Rooyen; S Ferreira, M Willemse, R de Klerk, S Greeff, B de Wee, A Ntsila, J van Vuuren, R Lerm. Substitutes: T Balekile, O Zono, M Dreyer, L Mtyanda, K Majola, R Gouws, J Nel.
Scorers: Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Hogg, Matawalu, Grigg, Z Fagerson, Smith, Horne, Turner; Cons: Hastings 2, Jackson 2.
Southern Kings: Try: Nel; Con: Zono; Pens: Banda 2.
Scoring sequence (Warriors first): 5-0, 5-3, 5-6, 10-6, 12-6, 17-6, 19-6 (h-t) 24-6, 29-6, 34-6, 36-6, 36-11, 36-13, 41-13, 43-13.
Yellow card –
Southern Kings: Nel.
Referee: M Adamson (Scotland).