Cardiff Blues 3 - 18 Glasgow: Cusack the key as Glasgow hold off Cardiff
GLASGOW coach Gregor Townsend described this week’s opponents Northampton as one of the best packs in Europe, so it was perfect for Glasgow to go into that challenge with a win having flexed their own muscles up front.
Cardiff Blues: Pen – Halfpenny.
Glasgow: Pens – Horne (6).
In particular, tighthead prop Mike Cusack was man-of-the-match in a commanding performance, and, yes, it was pretty much the kind of game you would imagine after hearing a front rower got that award.
“It says there has been a lot of scrums in the game, which there were, and we dominated in that area,” said Townsend. “There were a lot of penalties, but no yellow cards… But it was great.
“The whole pack scrummed well, but Mike at tighthead was obviously key to that. We know Northampton are one of the best scrums in Europe, Cardiff have had their troubles last two weeks in the scrum, so it is a different challenge next week.”
Northampton loosehead Soane Tonga’uiha may hail from the same part of the world as Cardiff’s Southern hemisphere pair Campese Ma’afu and Fau Filise, but the similarities end there as he is a far more fearsome forward opponent.
At the very least, Glasgow will have given the Saints scrum analysts some extra hours on the laptops this week, as the scrum built the positions from which the visitors were able to dominate the match.
Peter Horne landed six of his seven penalties, his first miss only coming once the match was won, so that, too, augurs well for next week as he takes over the kicking duties from Ruaridh Jackson.
Glasgow did play an open game with width, while their defence was also strong, but failed to finish off the half-chances they did manage to create, with some handling errors particularly irritating for a generally happy Townsend.
Stuart Hogg came on in the first half for the injured Peter Murchie, and he also showed some nice touches both in attack and perhaps, more importantly, defence as he stifled any Cardiff comeback by knocking the ball out of the hands of opposite number Leigh Halfpenny as he went over the tryline.
Perhaps because both sides made plenty of handling errors, the scrum was the key, though.
Glasgow started with dominance and were going forward in the scrums. The conventional forwards coaching wisdom is that a prop in trouble collapses the scrum to start again. That just brought a stream of penalties from Italian referee Guiseppe Vivarini. The next bit of the forwards coaching handbook says that when a prop is losing the battle of the “hit” then he has to go a little earlier to gain an advantage. That just brought a stream of free-kicks from Signor Vivarini. That really was game, set and match.
The only concerns for Glasgow were that Gordon Reid and Ryan Grant both left the field with injuries – bloody nose and strained elbow respectively – to further weaken the front row numbers, but it is hoped both will be back in action soon.
Certainly Cusack is in form and ready for a few more matches, knowing that his contract is up at the end of this season and staying at Glasgow is the aim with Scotland qualification through residence as another carrot.
“That was a good performance and we have to take that into next week,” he said. “We always try and look at the opposition scrum because it is a massive part of the game. We saw Cardiff had a couple of issues, so we looked to take them on up front and did that well today. We tried to keep nudging in front, but got the penalties and that set the tone for taking it forward.
“It is unfortunate the others have some knocks, but that is the way it goes. The Heineken Cup will be massive for us. They are a massive pack next week, they are awesome up front with driving lineouts and attacking the opposition through the scrum.”
Townsend will be going back to his former stamping ground as a player, of course, so he understands the level of the challenge facing Glasgow – though he is delighted to be doing it on the back of another away win.
“It carries on the momentum. After six rounds you can take stock: we have won twice away from home which shows the character of the squad, but we know now we have a massive game away from home,” he added.
Cardiff: L Halfpenny; H Robinson, G Evans, J Roberts, T James; C Sweeney, L Williams; C Ma’afu, R Williams, B Borrust, J Down, L Reed, R Watts-Jones, J Navidi, A Pretorius (Capt). Subs: M Breeze for R Williams 53, T Filise for Ma’afu (40), M Cook (not used), R Copeland for Watts’Jones 53, D Fish for Halfpenny 60, G Davies for Sweeney 67, L Jones for L Williams 63,
Glasgow: P Murchie; T Seymour, A Dunbar, P Horne, S Lamont; R Jackson, H Pyrgos; G Reid, D Hall, M Cusack, T Ryder, A Kellock (Capt), J Strauss, J Barclay, R Wilson. Subs: F Gilllies for Hall 69, R Grant for Reid 24, O Fainga’anuku for Cusack 66, M Cusack for Grant 67, T Swinson for Kellock 29-36 and 55, C Fusaro for Strauss 54, N Matawalu for Pyrgos 76, B McGuigan for Dunbar 78, S Hogg for Murchie 39.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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