The Cheetahs raced away with this one, producing the kind of rugby that Gregor Townsend dreams of seeing in dark blue, as Glasgow were left shredded and strewn across the savannah for the buzzards to pick on.
The turbo-heeled home side opened the scoring within six-minutes
rather fortuitously. Full-back Rhyno Smith charged through a gap in the Glasgow
22, his off-load to Henco Venter bounced off a mixture of him and Rory Hughes,
and toward the Glasgow line. Referee Dan Jones called play on, and recently
returned veteran Ruan Pienaar, a frequent thorn in Glasgow’s side from his Ulster
days, picked up and waltzed over the try-line.
More Cheetahs pressure allowed Pienaar to extend the lead through a penalty, and although Glasgow were able to get themselves up the other end of the pitch from the restart, they lost Nick Grigg to injury in the process. There was no silver lining either, as the Glasgow maul was halted, the ball made unplayable, and possession gifted back to the Cheetahs.
Glasgow’s opening quarter had been sloppy, and from a handling error by Glenn Bryce, Cheetahs were awarded the scrum on halfway.
Glasgow got the shove on, but Pienaar managed to dig the ball out before the referee’s whistle sounded. His half-back partner Tian Schoeman made the first break, and when he wasn’t held in the tackle, he popped the ball up for hooker Joseph Dweba. Dweba still had a lot to do, but from 35m out he showed great acceleration, side-stepped Frisby with ease, and got Cheetahs half-way to their try bonus.
These two sides scored 163 tries between them last season,
and Frisby, from seemingly nothing managed to get the Warriors onto the
scoreboard with 10mins remaining in the half. Hughes kick through was hopeful
more than anything, but Bruce Flockhart, on as a HIA replacement for Andrew
Davidson, gave chase. Flockhart slid, and just as the ball looked set to graze
the sideline, he got boot to ball, pushing it into the goal area where Frisby
Dweba then scored off the back of a maul for his second, although a penalty try was close to being awarded anyway, and although Glasgow found themselves in a similar position shortly after, Stewart’s line-out was stolen, and not for the first or last time either.
The half-time break did little to stop the slop. Matt Fagerson made a charging break through the middle, taking Glasgow up to the Cheetahs 10m line, where Glasgow were awarded a penalty.
I’m not sure what happened after that, but Glasgow must have tapped and went when the replay was still being shown, then proceeded to be turned over. Cheetahs cleared to touch, Steyn’s quickly taken line-out was aimed at Bryce’s shins. He knocked it on. This was honking rugby© at it’s peak honk. Nick Frisby seems to have taken the brunt of the blame, as he was then replaced by youngster Jamie Dobie.
The young scrum-half played a part as the Warriors tried to
battle back, his well timed pass to Thomson allowed him to cut back against the
drifting defence and find Nairn on the angle to reduce the arrears, but the
Cheetahs struck back straight away to secure the bonus point.
Harley missed a tackle on Steenkamp, who galloped through the open paddock, and despite him being hauled down just short of the Warriors’ try-line, Rhyno Smith was there to take his pop for a simple score.
Junior Pokomela added another classy finish in the left-hand corner, Ruan Pienaar’s quickly taken penalty allowed Smith to get his second, and Glasgow were staring down both barrels of a ridicule rifle.
The 50-points drew ever closer for the Cheetahs, Sias Koen benefitting from more rampaging running from Rhyno Smith, and a benevolent touch judge who could have called William Small-Smith’s pass in the build-up forward, but Pienaar missed the conversion to leave Cheetahs on 48.
There may be a swathe of players away at the big show in Japan, but this was shameful stuff. There were still experienced heads out there, guys who have played international rugby even this year, but they were clueless. Set-pieces a disaster, four line-outs lost in the first-half alone, Huw Jones was anonymous, and even the most ardent Adam Hastings slater will have to admit that Brandon Thomson was simply dreadful.
SRBlog MOTM: None of them. With just over 5mins remaining a graphic popped up showing that over 40 tackles had been missed, at a completion rate under 70%. That’s a team universally being dreadful.
Referee: Dan Jones (WRU)