Glasgow stayed on course for a home Guinness Pro12 play-off spot, a potential place in the grand final and, whisper it, a first ever title thanks to this bonus point win at Scotstoun.
The game was clinched in the 20 minutes before half time during which Glasgow scored four tries in a spell of irresistible attacking rugby. A proper hiding seemed on the cards but Cardiff, to their credit, regained some pride with a spirited second half performance. By then, however, the result and what could be a crucial try-scoring bonus point were already secure.
Glasgow’s attacking intent was clear from the outset. Jerry Yanuyanatawa, Tim Swinson and Tommy Seymour showed up well in the opening exchanges before Peter Horne put Warriors ahead with a penalty. Gareth Anscombe kicked Blues level in the 14th minute but that was the last good news for his side in the first half.
The match had been billed as a chance to say farewell to two Glasgow stalwarts, Al Kellock and Dougie Hall, and it was hooker Hall who had a Hollywood moment to remember when he popped up on the left flank to barrel over for the game’s opening try. Horne scarcely had time to kick the extras before he was pressed into action again, collecting Peter Murchie’s pass after a sharp Seymour break to dot down on the right.
Four minutes later Horne was at it again. Another electric Seymour line break, a pop pass from the deck which the TMO eventually ruled was not forward, and he was under the posts to give himself an easy conversion.
Cardiff must have longed for the respite of half-time and but before then they had to endure one more kick in the chuckies.
In the build up to the match much had been made of the ‘leadership qualities’ of retiring captain Kellock. Anyone who wanted an example of what that phrase meant in practice would have found it in the seconds leading up to half-time. A reckless off the ball clothesline tackle on Murchie by Blues lock Jarred Hoeata escaped the attentions of referee George Clancy (understandable) and also his two touch judges (mystifying).
When play broke down a few seconds later and Clancy called for a scrum, Kellock was a good 40 metres from the restart point and clearly in no particular hurry to join the set piece until the foul on Murchie had been replayed on Scotstoun’s big screen. Result? A yellow card for Hoeata, a touchfinder to the corner, some concerted driving play and a third try for Horne, who converted. Big Al will be missed.
The second half followed a pattern many in the capacity Scotstoun crowd would have been familiar with. With the game effectively won, Glasgow lost their shape. They did get the first try after the restart when some careless Blues handling in midfield gifted Glasgow with possession and Adam Ashe, who’d been doing a decent impression all night of what Josh Strauss would be like if he ever bagged an endorsement deal with Wilkinson Sword, sprinted clear to register his first Warriors try. Russell’s conversion was to be Glasgow’s last turn on the scoreboard.
Cardiff supporters may wonder why their team waited until they were 33 points behind before they started to play decent rugby. With the outstanding number eight Josh Navidi leading the charge, they hustled and harried the Warriors in a way they’d conspicuously failed to do for most of the evening. Their reward was converted tries for Gareth Davies and Dan Fish. They could have had another except Sam Warburton muffed a basic two on one with a wayward pass when the line beckoned.
By this time Glasgow had taken the opportunity to re-introduce long-term injury absentees Gordon Reid, Jon Welsh and Duncan Weir, while Hall had departed to a well-earned and prolonged standing ovation. Another, more concerning, departure was DTH Van Der Merwe, who made way in the first half clutching his arm. Season-long term injuries to the two Seans, Lamont and Maitland, make the prospect of another injured winger particularly worrying.
DTH re-emerged at full –time with his arm in a sling to clap off the opposition and join the applause for Kellock and Hall. For Hall there’s every chance it may have been the final curtain. Kellock, however, is in terrific form and may still have work to do before he calls it quits.
Glasgow can’t take anything for granted. Their path to the play-offs is a difficult one with three tough encounters ahead: Connacht and Ospreys away followed by Ulster at home.
Their fans can take heart, however, from the continued excellence of Seymour and Horne, outstanding performances from the likes of Yanuyanatawa, Ashe, Murchie and Swinson and the knowledge that they are still the captains of their own destiny as the crunch comes.