Glasgow welcomed the South African side to Scotstoun for the first time, on a windy old October night. The Glasgow side had a youthful feel about it, with George Horne and Adam Hastings making their first Warriors starts. In the pack, Fagerson Junior and Senior teamed up with Matt Smith, with Pat MacArthur bringing some much-needed experience to the rave.
This is a fixture that most fans would have been expecting a bonus point victory from, given the Kings poor results thus far and it was no surprise when Glasgow took the lead with their first attack. Sam Johnson, who has been in very sharp form of late, danced through the Kings defence before delaying his pass to send Stuart Hogg over the whitewash for his second try since his return from injury. Adam Hastings couldn’t add the extras, but it marked a very positive start from Glasgow.
The Kings managed to steady the ship well, aided by some lacklustre Glasgow handling and indiscipline. Two Kings penalties took the South African side into the lead, but the Glasgow side did not panic.
George Horne, whose speed of pass and sniping runs impressed all night, got the Glasgow backs moving well but it was the forwards who impressed most, with some serious grunt work gaining hard metres. Near the line it was left to Niko Matalawu to delight the Scotstoun faithful with a lovely opportunist snipe through the Kings defence. Hastings got the conversion this time, and he had another opportunity to add further extras soon afterwards; Nick Grigg celebrating his new 2-year contract with a trademark thundering running line to put some daylight between the sides.
With the conversion the Warriors took a 19-6 lead into the changing rooms despite having been outplayed for a significant chunk of the half.
Half-time: Glasgow 19 – 6 Southern Kings
The second 40 started with Glasgow now playing with the wind, but the errors continued. The players continued to throw the ball about, and ran from their own 22 as often as they could. It was left to some old-fashioned prop play though to secure the bonus point that the East Stand demanded. A lovely 5m lineout, straight off the training paddock, saw Zander Fagerson absolutely muller through the poor Kings scrum-half Rudi van Rooyen to touch down. The young prop had a busy old night and fairly enjoyed his try, with Hastings this time skelping the uprights with the conversion to leave the score 24 – 6.
The fifth try was not far behind, with the rolling maul the weapon of choice for the home pack. Matt Smith was the man in possession when the collective mass of bodies collapsed over the line. Ruaridh Jackson had taken over from Hastings by this point, but the replacement also struck the upright with the conversion, leaving the score 29-6.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, another thunderous Glasgow maul gave the hosts their sixth try. This time it was the smallest player on the park, George Horne, who found himself adding his ‘significant’ bulk to the forward efforts. The scrum-half deserved his score, his first in competitive action for Glasgow. Jackson nailed the conversion to take the score to 36-6.
Glasgow had not looked much like conceding a try for most of the evening, so it was a bit of a surprise when young Stafford McDowell, on his competitive debut, threw a horrible pass inside his own 22 that was gratefully received by Jacques Nel. Too much ambition in the 22 – something that Leinster punished a lot more ruthlessly – finally cost the hosts and Oliver Zono converted.
Glasgow were not done for the evening just yet.
McDowell did his best to redeem himself with a thumping burst to within five metres of the Kings try line. Eventually, the ball was bundled out to Matalawu, who was taken into touch by a very high challenge. Referee Mike Adamson saw nothing in this, the final of a number of strange decisions from the Scottish (formerly of Glasgow Warriors) whistler.
He was thankfully helped out by his team, who reviewed the footage. They still didn’t get it right as it was for me a clear penalty try situation, but Glasgow would not be denied. From the resulting penalty lineout, another maul saw George Turner flop over, getting his first Warriors try. Jackson converted from out wide to leave the score at the final whistle 43-13.
7 tries, 7 out of 7 in the Pro 14, and plenty of exciting young talent coming along the SRU conveyor belt.
Full-time: Glasgow 43 – 13 Southern Kings
Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU)
SRBlog Man of the Match: Man of the Match went to George Horne, and it is hard to disagree as he was head and shoulders above everyone on the park. The speed of delivery was sensational and the young playmaker can be extremely proud of his first start at Scotstoun. Other honourable mentions to Adam Hastings, who looks a real livewire and Sam Johnson at 12.