Glasgow struggle to find their top gear

GLASGOW claimed the win that new coach Kiwi Searancke demanded, but their display at Hughenden was far from convincing in the build-up to the Celtic League campaign in a fortnight’s time.

Their victory margin was ultimately wide enough, however they struggled for large portions of the contest to impose their authority on the West Country semi-pro outfit. Searancke was looking for an improved performance from his side in the wake of last weekend’s defeat by Harlequins at the same venue, especially in the contact phase.

Back came a spate of Glasgow front-liners, including new Scotland cap Rory Kerr, along with fellow Test men Tommy Hayes, Graeme Beveridge, David Hilton and Gordon Simpson.

The opening exchanges were scrappy in the extreme with both teams making handling errors in abundance. Glasgow weathered some early pressure to edge in front after five minutes. Exeter were guilty of ruck-offside 25 metres out in front of the target and Hayes calmly collected the three points.

Despite earning plenty of possession, the home troops were finding it hard to break down a well-drilled Chiefs defence. But thanks to a superb tackle by Simpson 10 metres inside his own half, they stretched their lead on the 15-minute mark.

Simpson’s challenge created a turnover, the ball was flashed out wide via Ian McInroy to Kerr and no defender was able to lay a finger on him as he cruised in under the crossbar to give Hayes a simple conversion.

Glasgow recovered from an Exter penalty with their second try. Wing Jon Steel inflicted the initial damage with a strong run through the middle. His effort created the time and space for flanker Donny Macfadyen to squeeze over in the corner from 20 metres out.

Exeter suffered a further setback when back-row Simon Etheridge was sinbinned for a killing the ball on the deck, but their comeback hopes were boosted when stand-off Tony Yapp landed another penalty from 40 metres.

Predictably, both teams made wholesale changes as the second half progressed. Equally predictable was the fact that the match became even more disjointed and stuttery. Glasgow were still seeing most of the ball, but they had to wait until the 56th minute to add to their tally when new recruit from Aberdeen GSFP Andrew Wilson reached the line.

That was the cue for Glasgow to step up the tempo and full-back Stuart Moffat showed off his attacking verve by breaking through four challenges to grab the fourth try.

Searancke must have been heartened to witness Glasgow’s superior staying power as they set up another close-quarter touchdown for Gordon Bulloch, but overall the home side were far from convincing. Exeter had the last word when wing Ed Lewsey marginally beat Kerr to get the first touch to a crosskick.

Scorers: Glasgow: Tries: Kerr, Macfadyen, Wilson, Moffat, G Bulloch. Cons: Hayes, Howarth. Pen: Hayes. Exeter: Try: Lewsey. Pens: Yapp (2).

Glasgow: S Moffat; J Steel, I McInroy, A Henderson, R Kerr; T Hayes, G Beveridge; D Hilton, G Bulloch, L Harrison, S Griffiths, J White (capt), J Petrie, D Macfadyen, G Simpson. Subs: G Scott, C Blades, A Hall, A Wilson, A Nicol, C Howarth, A Bulloch, B Daly, A Kelly, N Ross, K Sinclair.

Exeter Chiefs: D Kelly; C Wall, G Bunny, B Thompson, E Lewsey; T Yapp, R John; A Ozdemir, K Brooking, P Sluman, D Sims, Rob Baxter (capt), G Willis, S Etheridge, Richard Baxter. Subs: N Clarke, D Porte, I Brown, B Cole, J Gaunt, A Murdoch, S Howard.

Referee: G Davies (Fettesian/Lorretonians)

LAST NIGHT

Friendly matches: Edinburgh 22, Sale 26; Glasgow 32, Exeter 11; Bordeaux-Begles L, Northampton L; Gloucester L, Newport L.