Glasgow Warriors 37
Toyota Cheetahs 23
ALEX MCLEMAN @ Scotstoun
DESPITE a long injury list, and players away on Six Nations duty, Glasgow Warriors became the first team in the competition to guarantee themselves a Guinness Pro14 play-off semi-final appearance at the end of the season with this five try to two victory.
Every team experiences some sort of personnel crisis over the course of a Pro14 season – it is simply a by-product of the attritional nature of rugby – but it feels like the Warriors have been hit harder than most. They are currently without nine players due to Scotland commitments, and another nine out with injuries. Yet they continue to survive and thrive.
After a length-of-the-field, out-of-nowhere ninth minute score from Malcolm Jaer, which stunned the Scotstoun faithful, Glasgow controlled the opening 40 with a boa constrictor style performance. The Warriors victory, which at times looked close but was never in doubt, was a product of inspired kicking from Adam Hastings and a lights-out set-piece dominance against a dogged Cheetahs outfit.
The Cheetahs, managed to stay in touch throughout, but lacked the consistency at half-back to truly threaten.
“We are really rapped with the result. We had really good intensity – strong – and we defended well,” said a Warriors head coach Dave Rennie. “I thought Adam [Hastings] controlled the game well. He put us in the corners and put a lot of pressure on a strong Cheetahs side tonight. It was a good effort.”
The damage was done in a dismal first half from the visitors. After Jear’s early score, they starved themselves of possession by committing fundamental errors. They knocked on, conceded turnovers, gave away scrum penalties on their own feed, kicked out on the full, or simply kicked the ball away.
Cheetahs come back
But despite their shortcomings, the Cheetahs somehow only trailed Glasgow 15-10 at the interval. Niko Matawalu and Ruaridh Jackson each crossed for the home team during this first 40, while Hastings chipped in with a conversion and penalty. For the visitors, Niel Marias added a conversion and penalty to Jaer’s early score.
Glasgow’s lead was reduced further when Marias chipped over his second penalty four minutes into the second period, before Glasgow eventually shifted gears to put the result beyond doubt thanks to tries from Siosiua Halanukonuka, George Horne and Henry Pyrgos, plus two conversions and penalty from Hastings.
A Clayton Blommetjies try and a conversion and penalty from Marias kept the Cheetah’s relevant but not relevant enough to be genuine contenders. Their frustration was illustrated by Francois Venter 80th minute yellow card for deliberate obstruction.
“Good to be back in front of Scotstoun and I felt all the boys really put the pressure on them,” added Warriors centre Nick Grigg. ‘Last week we were a bit disappointed with the draw against the Dragons so it was about us playing smarter rugby this week, and I felt Adam really controlled the game well to put them under pressure throughout.”
“It’s a long season and we want to make sure we are in the best form leading up to the play-offs,” added Grigg.
Glasgow Warriors: R Jackson (D Thomson 73); L Jones (R Tagive 41), N Grigg, S Johnson, N Matawalu; A Hastings, G Horne (H Pyros 60); A Allan (O Kebble 59), J Malcom (G Stewart 73), S Halanukonuka (D Rae 60), T Swinson (A Ashe 69), S Cummings, R Harley, C Fusaro (M Smith 59), M Fagerson.
Toyota Cheetahs: C Blommetjies, C Barry, F Venter, N Lee, N Jaer, N Marais (F Zeilinga 72), S Venter (Z Mkhabela 75), C Marais (O Nche 51), T Van Jaarsweld (J du Toit 65), L de Burin (J Coetzee 31), J Basson (C Wegner 59), R Hugo, H Venter, O MoHoje (P Schoeman 47), U Cassiem.
Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Matawalu, Jackson, Halanukonuka, Horne, Pyrgos; Cons: Hastings 3; Pens: Hastings 2.
Toyota Cheetahs: Try: Jaer, Bloometjiets; Con: Marais 2; Pen: Marais 3.
Scoring sequence (Cheetahs first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 7-7; 12-7; 15-7; 15-10 (h-t) 15-13; 20-13; 20-16; 25-16; 27-16; 27-21; 27-23; 30-23; 35-23; 37-23
Yellow cards –
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)