Glasgow maintained their 100 per cent away record in the Pro12 and bounced back from last week’s defeat – they even showed that Scottish players can score tries – but the final score was very flattering indeed.
Scorers: Ospreys – Try: Hassler. Pens: Davies (2). Con: Davies. Drop: Davies. Glasgow – Tries: Cusiter, van der Merwe, Wilson. Pens: Jackson (2), Hogg. Cons: Jackson (2).
A game that was running away from them in a flurry of errors was suddenly thrown back in Glasgow’s favour by a lengthof-the-pitch try finished off by scrum-half Chris Cusiter. Glasgow then had the composure to clinch victory, but there were few other consolations apart from the result.
This was really the sort of game that Glasgow would have been expected to win at a canter if they have serious aspirations of winning the league. After all, the odds were firmly stacked in their favour with Wales playing today against Australia.
While Glasgow were not far short of full strength with the return of seven internationals, the Ospreys were missing almost all of their star names on Wales duty, such as Lions Richard Hibbard, Alun-Wyn Jones, Ian Evans and Justin Tipuric up front.
Add in that Glasgow had a 100 per cent record away from home in the league so far this season, in fact their only away loss has been at the home of European champions Toulon, and the Pools Panel would have had no problem deciding on an away win.
Things went to form in the opening minutes. Keeping ball in hand brought a penalty opportunity for Ruaridh Jackson from 40 metres and he just had the length to put the visitors ahead.
Stuart Hogg continued his return from injury with a good take from a high ball into his 22, while Jonny Gray was building on the confidence gained with his first cap during the November series.
However, the mistakes were creeping into the Glasgow game as well and, when a lineout went astray with an over-throw in midfield, the Ospreys were able to counter-attack.
A missed tackle in midfield allowed centre Tom Isaac to burst through to draw Hogg and put right wing Jeff Hassler over for the opening try. Sam Davies converted from wide out.
While the home side were happy to kick the corners through Davies, Glasgow kept the ball in hand which put a high premium on their ball retention skills – sometimes too high. They were also sloppy in too many of the resulting lineouts.
Those Glasgow mistakes allowed the Ospreys to establish first a toe-hold and then a firm grip on affairs.
Davies added a drop goal, while Jackson replied with a second penalty before Davies notched a penalty. That ended the action of a first half in which Glasgow enjoyed plenty of the possession and territory, but Achilles heels in the lineout and breakdown prevented them building on that.
Add to the Glasgow mistakes a mis-cueing of the defensive kicks which meant they did not clear their lines effectively, particularly important given the kicking approach of the home side. More mistakes in their own half meant the defence had to scramble to prevent another try, with prop Ed Kalman conceding a penalty which Davies added to stretch the lead to ten points.
That was enough to bring Glasgow changes, with four of the pack being replaced. However, they remained under pressure before they were literally thrown a lifeline.
The Ospreys were attacking furiously on the Glasgow line when the ball was thrown loosely out of a ruck and Glasgow were able to pounce on the ball. They were on their line but the space to attack was obvious and they worked the ball to Sean Lamont. He burst 40 yards before handing on to Cusiter to race the rest of the way to the corner. Jackson missed the conversion but Glasgow were back in a game that had been slipping away.
The scrum had been dominant all night and earned a penalty just inside the Ospreys half. The kick was more than 50 metres with the angle, but Hogg stepped up and didn’t just kick it – he kicked it with plenty of distance to spare.
Suddenly Glasgow were back within two points despite having made more mistakes than a top side is meant to.
The scrum continued to be strong and another drive and penalty also brought a yellow card for home hooker Scott Baldwin as he went up in the air once too often at the setpiece.
Glasgow took advantage to attack with space on the left, then Hogg made ground up the middle. When they were held up in the corner, left wing DTH van der Merwe saw a glimmer of space beside the corner flag and dived over for the score. It went to the TMO but was awarded, with Jackson adding the conversion to put Glasgow back ahead.
There were a few scares left in the game as the Ospreys pressed in the closing minutes, but Glasgow held on with replacement No 8 Ryan Wilson being driven over by his fellow forwards as the clock reached 80 minutes.
Ospreys: R Fussell; H Dirksen, T Isaacs, B John, J Hassler; S Davies, T Tebaldi; D Jones (Capt), S Baldwin, A Jarvis, L Peers, J King, T Ardron, S Lewis, M Allen. Subs: M Dwyer for Knoop 70-74 , M Thomas for D Jones 68, D Suter for A Jarvis 53, G Knoop for Peers 33, A Ellis for T Ardron, R Webb for Tebaldi 68, M Morgan for Fussell 74, A Natoga for Hassler.
Glasgow: S Hogg; T Seymour, M Bennett, S Lamont, DTH van der Merwe; R Jackson, C Cusiter; R Grant, P MacArthur, E Kalman, J Gray, A Kellock (capt), R Harley, T Holmes, J Strauss. Subs; D Hall for MacArthur 53, G Reid for Grant 76, J Welsh for Kalman 53, T Ryder for Kellock 53, J Eddie for Strauss 65, R Wilson for Harley 53, H Pyrgos for Cusiter, F Russell for Seymour.