GLASGOW WARRIORS 40
CARDIFF BLUES 16
STUART BATHGATE @ Scotstoun
GLASGOW stretched their perfect PRO14 record to 10 wins out of 10, but they had to fight hard before eventually putting away a Cardiff side who played 50 minutes with 14 men after Taufaao Filise was sent off. It was far from being a vintage performance from the Warriors, who were without most of their key Scotland players, but they scored six tries in the end thanks to a performance which, while often short of inspiration, never lacked perspiration.
“It was a shame they got a boy sent off, but for us it was great to get a bonus-point victory,” said full-back Ruaridh Jackson, who was named man of the match at the end of his third game in seven days. “It was very much accidental, I’m sure, but it’s a shoulder to the head, and with the laws . . . It’s up to the ref to make the decision. It helped us, but it was a shame for Cardiff.”
Cardiff were the better team at first, and were still in contention when Filise, their veteran tighthead prop, was dismissed for a no-arms tackle which was high enough to make contact with George Turner’s head. By the letter of the law it looked like the right decision; by the spirit, it seemed harsh. A second-half sin-binning damaged the Blues further, and it was to their credit that they stayed in contention for so long.
A Jarrod Evans penalty opened the scoring with barely a minute on the clock, and the Blues continued their bright start when Macauley Cook crossed in the left corner after swift recycling. Evans converted, and the Warriors were 10-0 down with only eight minutes played. They had not been entirely on the defensive up to that point, but their one sustained attack had been halted by the concession of a penalty for a rucking offence, and it was clear they had yet to find their real rhythm.
They responded well to that setback, however, and after steadily increasing the pressure on Cardiff they opened their account with a try by Sam Johnson. Pete Horne’s perfectly placed punt found the centre out on the left wing, and although he had little room for manoeuvre, Johnson sped past the Blues’ two wide defenders to score. Horne added the two points, but another Evans penalty soon eased the Blues further ahead.
Glasgow were soon back on the attack, but play was halted just before the half-time for the head knock to Turner in that tackle by Filise. The hooker went off for an HIA, and, after a discussion upstairs, the referee sent the prop off for what he ruled was a shoulder to Turner’s head. Cardiff responded by sacrificing No 8 Nick Williams to bring on replacement tighthead Anton Peikrishvili – and the Warriors responded by wasting no time in exploiting the numerical advantage, with Alex Dunbar scoring in the right corner after a quickly improvised attack. Horne’s excellent conversion from the touchline put the home team ahead for the first time.
An Evans penalty nudged Cardiff in front again five minutes into the second half, but they lost another player after 52 minutes when Olly Robinson was yellow-carded for killing the ball close to his own goal line. As they had done with the red card, Glasgow took advantage rapidly, and a long miss pass found Ruaridh Jackson with just enough space to squeeze in at the right corner for another converted try.
That was the only score when Cardiff were down to 13 men, but Glasgow grabbed the bonus point within minutes of Robinson’s return. Any number of men could have taken the ball the final yard, such was the overwhelming pressure, but it was Samu Vunisa who carried it to claim his first score for the club. Horne was again on target with the conversion, and at last, with little more than 10 minutes to play, the game had been put to bed.
Leonardo Sarto claimed his team’s fifth try three minutes from time, diving onto a grubber kick behind the line from substitute Adam Hastings for an unconverted score. Then, in the final minute, Niko Matawalu, who had also come off the bench, scored an excellent solo effort chipping ahead, collecting, then outstripping the defence. Horne converted, Owens blew for time, and another capacity Scotstoun crowd went home happy.
“It was a really tough game – we knew it would be,” Jackson added. “Ten from ten – you can’t take anything away from that. It’s an awesome start to the season in the league, and we’ve got to take that forward into Europe.”
Glasgow Warriors: R Jackson; L Masaga, A Dunbar, S Johnson, L Sarto; P Horne, H Pyrgos; A Allan, G Turner, S Halanukonuka, K McDonald, S Cummings, C Gibbins, M Smith, R Wilson. Substitutes: J Malcolm, J Bhatti, D Rae, H Burr, S Vunisa, G Horne, A Hastings, N Matawalu.
Cardiff Blues: G Anscombe; Lane, G Smith, W Halaholo, B Scully; J Evans, T Williams; B Thyer, K Myhill, T Filise, G Earle, M Cook, J Turnbull, O Robinson, N Williams. Substitutes: E Lewis, C Domachowski, A Peikrishvili, J Down, D Welch, D Blacker, R Lee-Lo, T James.
Scorers: Glasgow: Tries: Johnson, Dunbar, Jackson, Vunisa, Sarto, Matawalu. Cons: P Horne 5.
Cardiff: Try: Cook. Con: Evans. Pens: Evans 3.
Scoring sequence: 0-3, 0-8, 0-10, 4-10, 7-10, 7-13, 12-13, 14-13 half-time, 14-16, 19-16, 21-16, 26-16, 28-16, 33-16, 38-16, 40-16.
Yellow card: Robinson (Cardiff).
Red card: Filise (Cardiff).
Referee: N Owens (Wales).