Glasgow Warriors 52-24 Cardiff
Eight tries and a half-century of points saw Glasgow Warriors open their BKT United Rugby Championship account in style, earning a 52-24 victory over Cardiff at Scotstoun this evening.
Player of the Match George Horne grabbed 17 points, with a brace from Fraser Brown, a try apiece from Zander and Matt Fagerson and scores from Cole Forbes, Thomas Gordon and Stafford McDowall accounting for the scoreline.
Straight from the opening kick-off, it was evident that this was a Glasgow Warriors team with one objective in mind. An industrious opening spell from Scott Cummings saw the second-rower heavily involved at the set-piece and in the loose, whilst the speed of thought and foot from Horne kept the Cardiff defence on their toes.
However, it would be the visitors who would open the scoring with a quarter of an hour on the clock, somewhat against the run of play. After a lengthy stoppage due to an ankle injury to Rory Darge that saw the flanker head to hospital for treatment, the Welshmen caught their hosts cold. Max Llewellyn’s break through the middle took Cardiff into the Glasgow 22, before a looping pass from Jarrod Evans put Josh Adams over in the corner. Evans added the conversion, and Cardiff led 7-0.
Glasgow’s response was immediate, and showcased what was to come from Franco Smith’s men. A superb offload from Tom Jordan put Cole Forbes through a gap, who in turn sent Sebastian Cancelliere racing clear. Only an illegal intervention from Thomas Young could prevent the Warriors from scoring, earning the openside a yellow card from referee Chris Busby.
It took the Warriors precisely 45 seconds to make the most of their numerical advantage, and they did it in textbook fashion. Fraser Brown’s lineout was pinpoint accurate to Cummings, before Brown himself burrowed over the line from the rolling maul. Horne converted, and the scores were tied.
Straight from the restart, Smith’s men struck for what could already be a try of the season contender. Identifying the space, Stafford McDowall sent Sione Tuipulotu through a gap, who in turn timed his pass to perfection to send Cancelliere sprinting clear. The Argentinian drew the last man before popping the ball to Forbes, with the full-back outpacing the cover defence to touch down. Horne’s conversion attempt was true, and the Warrior Nation were in full voice.
The noise continued to grow moments later, as the home side crossed for their third try in a nine-minute spell. A superbly executed 50-22 from Tuipulotu gave the Warriors field position, before Zander Fagerson was stopped just inches short of the line. It was left to younger brother Matt to apply the finishing touch, picking up and going down the blindside to barge over the whitewash. A third conversion from Horne took the score to 21-7 after half an hour, and Scotstoun was rocking.
Even a yellow card to Tom Jordan on his first home start couldn’t puncture the home side’s momentum, as Cummings and Kyle Steyn combined to drive the visitors fully 20 metres backwards in a superb defensive shift.
A penalty from Evans was all that Cardiff could muster during the sin bin period, and it would be Glasgow that would finish the half on the front foot. A half-break from Dempsey and a perfectly-timed offload to Horne sent the scrum-half scampering clear, chipping ahead to pin Cardiff on their own try-line. Cummings’ chargedown forced a five-metre scrum in his side’s favour, and after Tuipulotu and Richie Gray went close, Horne himself would snipe over for the classic scrum-half score. Converting his own try for good measure, the Warriors headed back to the changing rooms with a 28-10 lead at the interval.
The visitors would come out of the traps the fastest in the second half, and would be rewarded with their second score of the night just five minutes into the second period. Kristian Dacey would be the one to wriggle over the line and touch down, Evans converting to narrow the deficit to 28-17.
Once again, though, Glasgow’s response would be immediate in its nature. Scooping up a loose ball, Gray’s offload to Steyn saw the skipper break through the middle, before relentless physicality saw the Warriors pack take play to within five metres. Zander Fagerson was more than happy to apply the coup de grace, Horne converting for a 35-17 lead after 49 minutes.
That lead would grow yet further just three minutes later, with the Warriors once again punishing Cardiff’s indiscipline. After Uilisi Halaholo was shown a yellow card for a high tackle on Brown, the kick to the corner would see Brown driven over for his second of the night. The conversion attempt was wayward for the first time in the match, but at 40-17 the Warrior Nation weren’t complaining.
Even the sight of an acrobatic score for Tom Jordan being disallowed couldn’t quieten the crowd, and the on 64 minutes there would be no denying Glasgow a seventh try of the night. Replacement scrum-half Ali Price’s disguised pass sent the rampaging Dempsey careering into space, the number eight coolly drawing the last man and sending Thomas Gordon over under the posts. Horne added the extras having shifted to the wing to accommodate Price, and Glasgow led 47-17.
Cardiff continued to press for a breakthrough of their own, and were eventually rewarded with 10 minutes remaining. A five-metre lineout was almost pinched by Matt Fagerson, but would be retained long enough by the visitors for Liam Belcher to dive over and touch down. Rhys Priestland converted, but the Warriors weren’t done yet.
Indeed, the final word would belong to Smith and company. As Cardiff attacked from their own 22, Priestland saw his chip charged down by McDowall. The centre regathered and just about rode the tap tackle from Halaholo, diving over to complete the victory and leave the final score at 52-24 in his side’s favour.