Glasgow returned to Scotstoun for the first time since December 2015, with the pitch finally deemed playable and the Glasgow weather playing ball. Whilst the players were quoted this week as been glad to be back on the grass, they would have been hard pushed to find much of the green stuff on a truly dreadful surface. Further ammunition (as if needed) to make sure a 3G (or 4G) surface is installed for next campaign. Henry Pyrgos led the side out on his 1st Warriors outing since the Pro 12 Final last May, finally making his 100th Glasgow appearance.
Glasgow started with the slight wind in their favour, and used this to great effect by pinning the Blues deep in their own half with a series of magnificent kicks from Duncan Weir. Weir got the first points of the game with a simple penalty before more pressure on the Cardiff line gave Gordon Reid the chance to rumble over for the try. Weir again knocked over with ease to give the extras. 10-0 after 10 minutes and all looked rosy in the Glasgow garden.
Cardiff were having to defend very hard against a Glasgow onslaught the like we have seen very seldom this year. Another fantastic break saw Mark Bennett sail over the line to seemingly score another try for the home side. The pitch was not happy with this however and the young centre ended up looking daft as he stumbled on a particularly uneven bit of in goal area and dropped the ball. Not quite Owen Farrell a few weeks back (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNCIu4zbTuU if you haven’t seen this) but still a red face moment. Odds are that Glasgow Life won’t be getting a Christmas card from the Scotland international.
Despite their profligacy, Glasgow continued to stretch the Cardiff team which had seemed to resort to more brutal ways of defending. A series of very interesting ‘torpedo’ style ruck entries saw Mathew Rees told to cool it by referee. This indiscipline continued yet the official seemed to not want to bin anyone.
The final play of the half saw Glasgow camped out on the Cardiff line. No white line fever from the Scots though as Tim Swinson stretched over to give his side their second try and with the extras from Weir a comfortable 20 point lead at half time. The bonus point was definitely the target now.
HT Glasgow 20 – 0 Cardiff
The second half kicked off with one notable change, with Alex Dunbar replaced by Sam Johnson. The big Scots centre had been through a power of work and looked very sharp. The bench confirmed that it was a ‘tactical’ substitution – and later rumours suggested it was a call from national management – which means that some involvement in the 6 Nations this coming weekend is likely.
Cardiff came out flying in the second period, and used the wind well to get field position, much like Glasgow had in the first half. The difference was that the Glasgow defence looked very comfortable, and it was 56 minutes in before the Blues got their first points, with Rhys Patchell knocking a penalty between the sticks. 20-3 with just over 20 minutes to go.
Captain Pyrgos exited the proceedings on 60 minutes, a fine effort for a player with zero rugby in 5 months. Also subbed at this stage was Zander Fagerson, who had another brutal performance in the loose. The Cardiff defence never managed to shackle the young tighthead and whilst the scrum was going backwards at times, this young man has all the attributes to become a world class front row.
The play continued to be predominantly in the Glasgow area, but Cardiff just couldn’t score. The penalty count was starting to creep up and finally Cardiff made a breakthrough. Dan Fish, who always looks dangerous every time I see him play, placed a beauty of a grubber kick down the line which he gathered himself and grounded. Individual magic from the winger but no conversion left the game at 12 points with 7 minutes left.
The Glasgow cause was further helped when the officials finally saw fit to put a Cardiff player in the bin. A high, contestable kick was recovered well by Glasgow but Aled Summerhill caught the Glasgow player round the neck in the air. A definite penalty and a justifiable yellow, given the rough treatment that had been dished out so far. Glasgow immediately punished the Blues further, with a kick to the corner allowing a rolling maul. Cardiff couldn’t stop it, and Simone Favaro, on in the 30th minute for Chris Fusaro, came up with the ball. The Italian is fast becoming a big favourite of the Scotstoun crowd with his action packed performances and today was no different. Another casual conversion from Weir made it 27-8 and with 5 minutes to play the bonus was finally in reach. Cardiff though had other plans, helped by a meltdown of discipline from Glasgow.
The home side put themselves under huge pressure, conceding penalty after penalty. First Ellis Jenkins crashed over for a try to bring the Blues within 5 of a losing bonus. There was 20 seconds left on the clock and with both teams chasing the extra point the gloves were off. Yet more indiscipline saw Scott Cummings given yellow for entering the side of a maul, and finally with the clock on 84 minutes, the Cardiff men got their reward, Macauley Cook getting the try.
A serious look at what happened in those final 5 minutes is required because Glasgow frankly lost the plot and whilst never in danger of losing the game, they ended it so poorly that the end result felt like it was a loss. Still, 4 points against a decent Blues team sets the Scotstoun men up for a run of home games that will define their season. Not much scope for slip ups now…
FT Glasgow 27 – 20 Cardiff
SRBlog Man of the Match: Have to agree with Richie Vernon on this one – Duncan Weir was outstanding today, flawless from the tee and really put the Glasgow forwards in the right positions. Edinburgh will be gaining a cracking asset when he jumps across the M8. Mentions too for Rory Hughes who was excellent defensively and the fantastic Zander Fagerson.
Glasgow Warriors: Peter Murchie, Lee Jones, Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar, Rory Hughes, Duncan Weir, Henry Pyrgos (capt); Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, Greg Peterson, Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Leone Nakarawa.
Replacements: James Malcolm, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Sila Puafisi, Scott Cummings, Simone Favaro, Mike Blair, Sam Johnson, Glenn Bryce.
Cardiff Blues: Rhys Patchell, Blaine Scully, Aled Summerhill, Rey Lee-Lo, Dan Fish; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Thomas Davies, Matthew Rees (capt), Salesi Ma’afu, Jarrad Hoeata, James Down, Josh Turnbull, Ellis Jenkins, Manoa Vosawai.
Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Corey Domachowski, Taufa’ao Filise, Macauley Cook, Josh Navidi, Lewis Jones, Garyn Smith, Harri Millard.
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)