GLASGOW grabbed the initiative in the race for a slot in the end of season play-offs with this hard-fought victory. A late try from Tommy Seymour proved to be crucial.
Scorers – Glasgow: Try: Seymour; Pens: Weir 2. Ospreys: Pens: Biggar 2; DG: Biggar.
Gregor Townsend’s men are now just a point behind the Ospreys, who picked up a losing bonus point, but with two games in hand and with four of their six remaining games at home they are entitled to feel pretty pleased about their night’s work.
With so much at stake, and given that it was also a bitterly cold and blustery night at Scotstoun, it is little wonder that this was edgy affair, lacking in attacking zip. Fear of failure rather than promise of success was clearly the guiding consideration in proceedings. It was all very scrappy.
The situation wasn’t helped by Ospreys hooker Scott Baldwin twice requiring treatment on the field – before eventually giving up the ghost in the 19th minute and being replaced by Scott Otten – which did nothing to help the match flow.
With the wind against them, the Warriors found themselves on the back foot for most of the first quarter – but were never really seriously troubled in defence. So, they will be slightly disappointed that they offered up three easy points to the boot of Dan Biggar when Leone Nakarawa didn’t quite come through the gate at a ruck on his team’s 22 and clobbered Rhys Webb as he tried to get the ball away.
That was the only score in the first half, and of the two sides that retreated down the tunnel for a fortifying mug of tea during the break it will have been the home team who will have been the slightly happier. They knew that they would have the wind on their side during the second half, and sure enough the Warriors were quickest out the blocks, soon evening the score up through a Duncan Weir penalty.
And the Warriors stand-off fired his team into the lead just short of the hour mark, when Hanno Dirkson was penalised for holding onto the ball on the deck.
But that advantage was soon cancelled out by a second successful kick at goal from Biggar after the Warriors were penalised for an offside directly in front of their own posts.
As the game moved into the final quarter, the Ospreys began to look more and more dangerous, and when Dirkson burst clear it took a magnificent effort from Sean Maitland to get back and make the try saving tackle. Ospreys held onto the ball, however, and two phases later Biggar dropped into the packet to slot the drop-goal which put the Welsh side back into the lead.
Niko Matawalu had been shifted from wing to scrum-half when Chris Cusiter picked up a cut below his eye on 55 minutes, and Gregor Townsend decided to keep him there even after his captain had been stitched up as he tried to find the spark which would unlock the game.
The Fijian obliged when he set up the try which finally secured the win for the Warriors with just five minutes to go. He sniffed out a gap and darted through it, then cleverly sent a kick into the corner which Seymour did incredibly well to get to ahead of Biggar. After a tense wait while the Television Match Official checked that the Scotland wing had indeed grounded the ball – the score was eventually awarded.
Finn Russell then scooted over, but on this occasion the TMO chalked the score off due to a knock on.
When Biggar dropped back into the pocket for another drop-goal effort there was a very real danger victory would slip through the Warriors’ grasp. But Matawalu was alive to the danger and charged down the kick.
Glasgow: P Murchie (R Jackson 76); T Seymour, A Dunbar (R Vernon 51), F Russell, N Matawalu; D Weir, C Cusiter (S Maitland 55); G Reid (J Yanuyanutawa 76), P MacArthur (D Hall 10), J Welsh (M Low 54), L Nakarawa, J Gray, R Harley (R Wilson 66), C Fusaro (T Holmes 58), J Strauss (R Wilson 45-49).
Ospreys: S Davies; J Hassler, H Dirkson, J Spratt, A Natoga; D Biggar, R Webb (T Habberfield 55); D Jones (M Smith 58), S Baldwin (S Otten 1-3), A Jones (A Jones 69), J King, A Jones, S Lewis (T Adron 49), J Tipuric, D Baker.
Referee: J Lacey (Ireland)