GLASGOW rediscovered their mojo, displayed boundless ambition and ran out easy winners yesterday at Scotstoun even if it wasn’t until the second half that their superiority on the field was reflected on the scoreboard.
They also gave themselves a lifeline in Europe with this comprehensive bonus-point victory against a sub-strength, disappointing Scarlets side.
The game was a personal triumph for the giant Fijian-born, Wallaby winger Taqele Naiyaravoro who grabbed a quick fire hat-trick of tries in the space of just 16 second-half minutes. He also had another one wiped off for a foot in touch in what was by far and away his best display in Glasgow colours.
“Yeah, it was good fun out there,” said the delighted winger after the match. “It came after a lot of hard work from the boys. That (disallowed try) was a bit of a shocker. I wasn’t really paying attention but I thought I was in. I just tried to make up for it. The team did all the hard work and I am just finishing for them.”
“We just had to work harder than we did in the first half,” he said when asked about the flood gates opening after the break. “That second half was the final chance for us to get that win. Everyone had to be a bit more patient and work a bit harder.”
Scarlets proved poor opposition but Glasgow would have caused any side problems given yesterday’s display, with Mike Blair sparking the first counter-attack from deep early on and keeping the tempo high throughout.
The home side held the whip hand across the field from the set scrum, where they had the Welshmen on the back foot, to the wide open spaces where Naiyaravoro created blind panic every time he touched the ball. In claiming his disallowed try the winger powered through three Scarlets defenders, two of whom were left prostrate on the pitch having clashed heads. One played on but the afternoon finished early for flanker Tom Phillips.
The Naiyaravoro non-try was just one of umpteen near misses in the first half when Glasgow would have been home and hosed had everything stuck. Under pressure Steven Shingler passed the ball straight to Stuart Hogg two metres from the Scarlets’ try line but the Glasgow full-back spilled the slippery ball with a score begging.
Elsewhere the Test flanker Simone Favaro made a great impression, not least on the hapless Scarlets stand-off Shingler, whose card he marked with an early tooth-loosening tackle. The same man did the exact same to Michael Tagicakibau and whoever rattled the Italian’s cage should do the same every week.
Shingler once threatened to join Scotland and, on yesterday’s evidence, they have dodged a bullet. Almost every clearance kick he made fell perfectly for Naiyaravoro who took full advantage of this unexpected generosity.
Had the Glasgow players fed the big Fijian with the same unerring accuracy as the Scarlets’ stand-off they would have had the bonus point bagged by half time. As it was Weir’s seventh-minute score, when he took advantage of some sloppy tackling, was the only try of the first 40 and the stand-off added a late penalty to give Glasgow a 10-3 lead at the break, a scoreline which must have tempted the Scarlets to do a lap of honour.
Hardly able to believe they were still in contention, the Scarlets started the second half the livelier side and Shingler doubled his team’s tally with a second penalty five minutes in, which seemed to rouse the home side from their slumbers because they responded with five tries in the final 35 minutes.
James Malcolm started the tsunami by barrelling his way over from short range following an attacking lineout.
Then came the Naiyaravoro show. First up the right winger ran right over the top of two Scarlets defenders and kept his feet in the field of play to finally grab his first try. That left the Warriors with 20 minutes to come up with the bonus point try, and replacement Sean Lamont eventually made a little space for Peter Horne on the left wing and when the ball was recycled Finn Russell’s cross-field kick was inch perfect for Naiyaravoro to walk in his second and Glasgow’s all-important fourth try of the afternoon.
It was only fitting that the big winger should claim his hat-trick try seven minutes from time following a simple interception 30 metres out and he almost had a fourth, only for the ball to beat him into touch. There was still time for Tim Swinson to drive over from short range after Grayson Hart and Leone Nakarawa did the hard graft as Glasgow ended with a flourish.
Scorers: Warriors: Tries: Weir, Malcolm, Naiyaravoro 3, Swinson. Cons: Weir 2, Russell 3. Pen: Weir. Scarlets: Pens: Singler 2.
Warriors: Hogg (Lamont 66), Naiyaravoro, Dunbar, Horne, Seymour; Weir (Russell 55), Blair (Hart 62); Grant (Yanuyanutawa 47), Malcolm (Mamukashvili 72), Puafisi (Fagerson 55), Nakarawa, Gray (Capt)(Swinson 55), Strauss, Favaro, Ashe (Harley 62).
Scarlets: S Evans, Robinson, King, Owen, Tagicakibau (Collins 67); Shingler, Davies (Williams 66); John, E Phillips (Capt), Jones, Earle (Paulito 59), Price, Rawlins , T Phillips (Condy 22), Allen (Myhill 68).
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FFR). Attendance: 6,576.