Glasgow Warriors made it a magnificent seven away wins in a row in the RaboDirect Pro12 to set a record mark for the tournament.
Two tries in the final ten minutes tipped the scales very firmly in favour of the Scottish side after they had twice fallen ten points behind. It was a win that pushed them back up into the play-off places in a victory that was due largely to second-half reinforcements.
Gregor Townsend managed his replacements superbly well as he ensured the visitors got stronger and stronger at a stage when the home team got weaker. Once the two Welsh forwards, prop Gethin Jenkins and flanker Sam Warburton, left the fray there was little or no fight or guidance left in the Blues pack.
The Warriors began to dominate the scrum and conjured up a second-half performance that was light years in advance of their display in the opening 40 minutes.
“We were very disappointing in the first half and it certainly didn’t look as though we were going to win the game after those opening 40 minutes,” admitted Townsend.
“The replacements really lifted the pace of the game for us. I asked the players for a reaction in the second half and I got one. It was good to get a win against a team that had beaten us twice already this season in the Heineken Cup. This win has given us a boost at the start of a run of three successive away games and will give us confidence before we go to the Dragons and then Leinster.
“This league is getting stronger and stronger and there are five teams who are doing really well at the top end. It’s great to be in the play-off places again and we are really lucky with the squad we have got at the club and the spirit they show.”
The Blues took the lead with a seventh minute penalty from Simon Humberstone, but it was almost half an hour before the next score. In between, Ruaridh Jackson missed with two 40-metre penalty shots and then got involved in a bizarre fashion with the first home try.
The Blues made the most of a turn-over on their ten-metre line and Gethin Jenkins played scrum half, the No.8 Robin Copeland acted as the link and the lock Macauley Cook raced up the left wing before throwing inside. Jackson arrived and tried to palm the ball backwards and, to his horror, he saw the ball roll into his 22 where Humberstone picked up and sent Copeland racing over for the first try of the night. The touchline conversion merely rubbed salt into the wound.
The Glasgow response was swift and with the final move of the first half Lee Jones popped up on the shoulder of skipper Josh Strauss in the home 22 to beat three men on his way to an excellent individual try which Jackson converted to cut the gap to three points.
The Blues got off to a flying start in the second half and grabbed a try through replacement scrum-half Lee Jones five minutes after the restart and Humberstone’s conversion extended the lead to ten points.
As the Warriors replacements began to provide new momentum, so the pendulum slowly began to swing in their favour. Finn Russell made a telling contribution off the bench at stand-off, kicking two penalties and converting the two tries in those thrilling final ten minutes.
It was his break, taken on by replacement flanker James Eddie, that paved the way for the try after 70 minutes that allowed the Warriors to level the scores at 20-20. There was only one side in it by that stage and a magnificent drive off the back of another steady scrum from Strauss allowed Mark Bennett to race over for the match-winning score on the stroke of time.
It was a great way for Ed Kalman to celebrate his 100th appearance for the Warriors.
Scorers: Cardiff: Tries: R Copeland, L Jones. Cons: S Humberstone 2. Pens: S Humberstone, G Davies.
Glasgow: Tries: L Jones, J Edie, M Bennett. Cons: F Russell 2, R Jackson. Pens: F Russell 2.
Cardiff: D Fish; R Smith, I Tuifua, D Hewitt (T Williams 60), H Robinson; S Humberstone (G Davies 54), LWilliams (L Jones 19); G Jenkins (S Hobbs 54), K Dacey (R Williams 68), S Andrews (P Palmer 78), M Cook, F Paulo, E Jenkins, S Warburton (R Watts-Jones 60), R Copeland.
Glasgow: N Matawalu; L Jones, R Vernon, M Bennett, R Hughes; R Jackson (F Russell 46), H Pyrgos (C Cusiter 46); G Reid (J Yanuyanutawa 46), P MacArthur (D Hall 58), E Kalman (J Welsh 50), L Nakarawa, T Ryder (J Gray 50), R Harley, T Holmes (J Eddie 66) , J Strauss.
Referee: G Clancy (IRFU). Attendance: 5,645.