On THEIR day the high-tempo attacking rugby of the home team is all but unstoppable and not even the most one-eyed West Countryman would deny that yesterday belonged to Glasgow.
They put together their best performance of the season so far to put Bath to the sword. The English club have had more fun at the dentist. They knew what was coming but were powerless to stop the relentless tsunami of black shirts heading their way.In all, Glasgow scored five good tries and you could argue that the final figure was really six, since they manufactured the visitors’ only try too. This might just be the season Glasgow finally make their mark in Europe.
Bath’s entire game plan seemed to revolve around testing Stuart Hogg in the air. The full-back made one howler to concede seven points but other than that the visitors’ much vaunted backline was operating in the shadow of the Glasgow offence which was playing a different game altogether. Only in the second half when Bath brought 100 caps worth of international experience off their bench did the visitors dominate one area... the set scrum.
Everyone in black played their part. Leone Nakarawa flips passes that Michael Jordan could only manage in his sleep and Adam Ashe’s intelligent performance made the absence of Josh Strauss irrelevant. Peter Horne made his tackles, including an early one on George Ford when Bath might have scored, but Mark Bennett was a revelation. A force of nature in attack, picking lines like a latter day Alan Tait and running just as hard. He scored
Glasgow’s first try, he grabbed their last and pretty much everything he did in between times was spot on.
The twin wingers finished superbly and Tommy Seymour did so much more, although he only lasted till half-time. Bath continually gave him several inches of space on the left wing and Seymour took full advantage, running riot, a constant threat, scoring one and making another first-half try. He even put Bath full-back Gavin Henson on his backside in one early clash which proved a crowd pleaser.
Meanwhile, skipper Henry Pyrgos enjoyed his best match for the club and got the man of the match award, a timely reminder to Vern Cotter. He got the balance right between attacking himself and releasing his back line and his quick thinking resulted in Glasgow’s third try.
Bath kicked off, Jonny Gray collected and Glasgow put down a marker by marching the resulting maul back 30 yards. The opening quarter was frantic and a little bizarre with 20 points evenly shared, both offences dominating despite the fresh legs.
Ford opened with a penalty and Glasgow countered with a superb try from Bennett who took an inside ball before curving back out again to beat two defenders whom he carried over the line under the cross bar.
Hogg then spilt a high ball that Jonathan Joseph hacked towards the Glasgow line. The ball sat up nicely and the Bath centre claimed the easiest try he will ever score. He wasn’t to know it but Ford’s conversion on 13 minutes proved Bath’s last points of the afternoon.
Glasgow were unperturbed. Weir kicked a brace of penalties to give his side a narrow 13-10 lead when the key passage of play arrived around the half-hour mark. Ford kicked two penalties into touch and twice Bath attempted to rumble their way over the Glasgow line. If Gregor Townsend’s team has an Achilles heel this is it and the crowd roared their approval when Glasgow’s big men drove the maul back, isolated the ball carrier, won the turnover and then a penalty. Two minutes later they had their second try 80 yards away.
Henry Pyrgos kicked high, Seymour snatched the ball from Semesa Rokuduguni’s grasp and Glasgow moved the action quickly to the right, through Peter Horne and Hogg, where Maitland danced his way past Henson.
Still there was time for one more score from the home side before half time and this time Seymour turned from provider to finisher. Awarded a free kick at a five-metre attacking scrum, Pyrgos took a quick tap and shipped the ball, via Hogg, to the left winger who dived over in the corner after catching Bath napping.
By necessity the second half was a quieter affair, but Niko Matawalu put the icing on Glasgow’s cake with the bonus-point try on 66 minutes and Bennett finished the scoring after a clever grubber from DTH van der Merwe.
Scorers: Glasgow: Tries: Bennett (2), Maitland, Seymour, Matawalu. Cons: Weir 3. Pens: Weir 2. Bath: Try: Joseph. Con: Ford. Pen: Ford.
Glasgow: Hogg (Russell 70); Maitland, Bennett, Horne, Seymour (van der Merwe 40); Weir, Pyrgos (Matawalu 61); Reid (Yanuyanutawa 63) MacArthur (Hall 55), Murray (de Klerk 70), Nakarawa (Swinson 55), Gray, Harley, Fusaro, Ashe.
Bath: Henson (Agulla 43), Rokuduguni, Joseph, Eastmond (Devoto 36), Watson, Ford, Young; Auterac (James 48), Batty (Webber 48), Thomas (Wilson), Hooper, Attwood, Day, Mercer (Ellis 61), Sisi (Ewels 55).
Referee: Jerome Garces.