Glasgow Warriors delivered a comprehensive performance under the Saturday night lights, running in five tries to claim a bonus-point 33-14 victory over Dragons at Scotstoun.
A Player of the Match-winning display from Jack Dempsey saw the number eight cross for his third try in as many matches, with Kyle Steyn, Sione Tuipulotu, Ali Price and Johnny Matthews also touching down for the home side.
Straight from the opening kick-off, the home side set the tone for the night’s proceedings. A superb kick-chase from Steyn saw the centre force Sam Davies to slice his kick, giving Glasgow an early chance. A five-metre lineout misfired, however, much to the East Stand’s chagrin.
The opening exchanges were dominated by those in black and blue, though, as Glasgow looked to strike first on a decidedly wintry evening under the floodlights. The pressure eventually told on 15 minutes, as Danny Wilson’s men earned just reward for their early endeavours. Ross Thompson went for broke from a penalty on halfway to earn a five-metre lineout, from which Dempsey was hauled down inches short. There was to be no denying Tuipulotu however, as the centre cut the perfect line to bounce off the last defender and cross for his first try at Scotstoun. Thompson added the extras, handing his team a 7-0 lead.
With proceedings now taking place almost exclusively in the Dragons half, the Warrior Nation were eager for their side to kick on. In truth, a second score could have arrived earlier than the 25-minute mark, but when it did it was well worth the wait. Playing heads-up rugby, a tap and go on halfway from Thompson saw the ball whipped to Josh McKay, who sliced through the Dragons defensive line and into the 22. Sebastian Cancelliere and Zander Fagerson duly took play to within five metres, before Thompson popped up with the ideal cross-kick into the waiting arms of Steyn for the score. The conversion was pulled wide, but the Scotstoun faithful were in no mood to complain.
Even when the Dragons strung the phases together, the Glasgow defence was in no mood to yield. Price showed his experience with an eye-catching cover-and-clear from a Jordan Williams chip ahead, whilst Rory Darge was proving a menace at the breakdown.
There would be a final flourish to a dominant opening stanza, and it was one for forwards everywhere to savour. After the Glasgow pack had gone to work to shove their opponents clean off their own feed, it was then all down to Dempsey; the Australian number eight picked up from the base and charged, rampaging over from 40 metres for a score wildly acclaimed by the Warrior Nation. Thompson converted, and it was a 19-0 half-time lead.
The home side were in no mood to relinquish the advantage as play restarted, a canny kick from Price earning his side a 50-22. Tuipulotu and Dempsey were continuing to cause havoc for the visiting defence, whilst Darge nearly escaped for a memorable score from a set-play 40 metres out.
Knowing they needed to score next to keep themselves in the match, the Dragons then set about attempting to breach the Glasgow defence once more. Yet they hadn’t reckoned with the flying McKay, the full-back denying Tavis Knoyle with a sensational try-saver on 52 minutes.
Instead, it would once more be the Warriors who would be next to trouble the scorers. A thundering burst through the middle from Dempsey took Glasgow up to the Dragons 22, before Matthews and McKay combined to take it ever closer. The home side duly showed good patience to work it to within a metre of the line, with Price applying the finishing touch with a classic scrum-half snipe. Thompson converted and the bonus-point was secured.
There would be a shot in reply from the Dragons, as they crossed for their first try of the night with 15 minutes remaining. Despite the best efforts of a brutally physical Glasgow defence, it was eventually Ellis Shipp who would be the man to touch down, the conversion added by Davies to narrow the gap.
Glasgow weren’t done yet, though, firing back at their visitors just five minutes later. Another top-class kick to the corner from Thompson gave the Warriors a platform duly accepted by the pack, as Matthews peeled away from the back of a maul to bundle his way over the line. Thompson converted with his final act before being replaced by debutant Domingo Miotti, taking the score to 33-7 with 10 to play.
Back came the Dragons once more, with the forwards once again doing the damage for the Welsh outfit. Replacement prop Mesake Doge found a way through the ruck at close range, Davies adding the extras for a 33-14 scoreline.
Yet there would be no late drama in this one; instead, all that was left was for Forbes to boot the ball into the Main Stand and underline that all five points were staying in Glasgow. Next up, attentions turn to European matters – the not-so-small matter of a trip to La Rochelle awaits as the Heineken Champions Cup returns next weekend.
Kick-off 8:00 pm