Cardiff Blues 12
Glasgow Warriors 29
DAVID BARNES @ Cardiff Arms Park
THEY needed something special to breathe life back into their European Champions Cup campaign, and Glasgow Warriors delivered just that with a performance characterised by bustling intent with ball in hand and steely resolve in defence, to pick up a valuable bonus-point win in the Welsh capital yesterday afternoon.
The frustration of their opening weekend defeat at home to Saracens won’t be completely dispelled by this performance and result, but it won’t be quite as hard to stomach from now on. The Warriors are right back in the hunt for quarter-final qualification and will head into their double-header against still winless Lyon at the start of December full of confidence and knowing that their destiny is in their own hands.
The visitors got off to a dream start when Adam Hastings – who was the star of the show amongst a cast of excellent support acts – correctly backed himself from close range for the opening try with just 90-seconds played, finishing a sweeping attack he had started a few moments earlier with a delicious flat pass which sent Matt Fagerson through the Blues centres.
And not content with that early declaration of intent, the visitors doubled their account before the match was four minutes old, with Fraser Brown and Huw Jones the chief architects, and DTH van der Merwe the deadly finisher up the left touchline.
There was then a period of relative calm, with the Blues being awarded a succession of four penalties and despatching each one to the corner, only to lose the ball at – or soon after – the line-out. Warriors were also saved by a forward pass from Willis Halahalo to Jason Harries just a few yards from the try-line, after the hosts finally managed to string together a coherent passage of play (although that did mean a scrum and the Warriors had already given away two penalties in the two previous set-pieces but on this occasion they managed to hold onto the ball after a frantic stable at the base).
The Arms Park faithful were getting edgy and roaring hopefully for every marginal decision, so they weren’t happy when their boys were penalised in the middle of the park for not rolling away and Hastings stepped forward to drill home the three points just before the half hour mark.
Blues tighthead Dillon Lewis managed to pierce the Warriors defence just before the break, but was pulled down ten yards from the line, and a huge tackle from Sam Johnson on the hulking Nick Williams dislodged the ball and killed off the threat.
Warriors started the second half in similar style to the first, with van der Merwe cruising past the Blues’ pedestrian defence on an arcing run and then releasing Ali Price to dot down under the posts.
The Blues got a try back after a Gareth Anscombe break, a Tomos Williams chip and an Aled Summerhill finish. The conversion didn’t go over, but all of a sudden there was a bit of belief about the home team, and Glasgow did well to suck up the pressure for the next 20 minutes.
Warriors then registered the killer blow with Hastings right in the thick of it again. He launched a break-out from deep inside his own 22, carried on by van der Merwe, Huw Jones and George Horne, before the stand-off got back involved to thread through the daintiest of grubber kicks for Fagerson to collect on a perfectly timed run, and then send Jonny Gray galloping under the posts.
Slick hands from a scrum put Summerhill in for his – and his team’s – second try with three minutes to go, and Anscombe added the conversion. But nobody was kidding anyone that this was anything other than a rather hollow consolation score pulled from the embers of a match which had already been extinguished as a contest.
Glasgow Warriors: T Seymour; L Jones, H Jones, S Johnson (P Horne 51), D van der Merwe (N Matawalu 67); A Hastings, A Price (G Horne 55); O Kebble (A Allan 54), F Brown (G Turner 60), D Rae (P du Plessis 60), R Harley (S Cummings 70), J Gray, R Wilson (C Fusaro 66), C Gibbins, M Ferguson.
Cardiff Blues: G Anscombe; A Summerhill, R Lee-Lo, W Halaholo (C Smith 63), J Harries; J Evans (M Morgan 57), T Williams (L Williams 66); R Gill (B Thyer 54), K Dacey (E Lewis 60), D Lewis (S Andrews 60), G Earle, J Turnbull (R Thornton 57), O Robinson, E Jenkins, N Williams (S Manoa 54).
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Cardiff Blues: Try: Summerhill 2; Con: Anscombe.
Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Hastings, van der Merwe, Price, Gray; Con: Hastings 2; Pen: Hastings.
Scoring sequence (Blues first): 0-5; 0-10; 0-12; 0-15 (h-t) 0-20; 0-22; 5-22; 5-27; 5-29; 10-29; 12-29.