Like last season’s champs the Ospreys, Glasgow went to Swansea without a victory yet in the RaboDirect Pro12. Both coaches were already being asked about pressure after a mere two games. Someone was going to be coming away disappointed.
After only a few minutes of the Ospreys probing the Glasgow defence, DTH Van Der Merwe could have taken the mark under a high ball, but he clearly fancied running the length of the pitch to score a try instead. Hints of a block led to the sound of boos ringing out around the Liberty stadium early on but the score counted.
Weir missed his conversion, and stepped up again minutes later for a penalty and missed again. It was followed soon after by a scuffed clearance to touch; if he wants to step up and challenge Laidlaw (who has not had the most dead-eyed start to his kicking season either) for the Scotland 10 shirt he’ll need to start nailing those.
Chris Cusiter was again leading by example but took a few serious knocks, and was off by the 12 minute mark with a shoulder injury. Henry Pyrgos was a lively deputy as Andy Robinson looked on from the stand. With Blair and Lawson off playing second-tier rugby, could we see Laidlaw switched back to 9 or can Pyrgos take the big step up? It could be an interesting Autumn for Scottish half-backs.
Weir took a first penalty shortly thereafter and kept the pressure on with a good grubber for Seymour following a darting break by Pete Horne. When Ospreys had the ball, Glasgow’s advancing defensive line looked at times almost too neat and the home team were unable to put much together in the face of it.
The Ospreys stuttered save for a powerful run from my World Cup favourite George Stowers, and struggled to get their line-out working too while Glasgow were looking assured if not spectacular – the influence more of MT than GT from their coaching ranks, perhaps.
Luckily for those of us north of the border, there was plenty for the Swansea crowd to continue grumbling about as they butchered chances and failed to make their incursions into Warriors’ territory count.
An opportunist try by Chris Fusaro looked like the sort of thing that would raise the ire of the crowd further – but not due to any mischief from the Glasgow openside or his teammates, simply due to the Ospreys failing to execute a clearance and leaving a bobbling ball to be easily gathered near the try line.
Tipuric, clearly one of the half-million Welsh back-rows who are going to dominate the Lions next year was made to look fairly ordinary compared to the buzzbomb Chris Fusaro.
Glasgow went in at half time with a 15 point lead, pleased at a first 40 full of clever play where they pounced on any chance they got.
Early in second half Rhys Webb was binned for lazy running, and that summed up the Ospreys – not really switched on, and making silly decisions.
With 45 minutes gone, Glasgow were a man up and 18 points clear. When the Ospreys attacked just after, they were unable to prise a similar punishment from the ref, and failed to make their ensuing line-out count having spurned the kick at goal.
They did get equity after James Eddie pulled down a driving maul and eventually Ian Evans powered over for the try. Would Glasgow throw this game away, having to that point never looked troubled? Again the Ospreys messed up a chance for a mirror image of Van Der Merwe’s earlier run with a blown wide pass that let Glasgow back into the driving seat.
Van Der Merwe, who is rapidly affirming that he is Glasgow’s answer to Tim Visser (powerful, pacy, Dutch name) turned what looked like it was about to be a ruck into a pile-up over the line that he was clearly at the bottom of, ball and all. This time the home crowd didn’t even have the will to boo.
The Ospreys had some dominance over the later stages of the game but Glasgow’s defence held firm as it had all game, coughing up only a further penalty – and perhaps lucky to escape without further yellow cards – and scoring one themselves (from Jackson) to leave them with a happy trip back North.
SRBlog Man of the Match: Chris Fusaro. DTHVDM was a close second but Fusaro did more than just scoring, making a nuisance of himself and tackling anything in black; Darth Vader himself would have been smashed into the Swansea turf.