Depleted Glasgow Warriors make light work of Dragons on Jamie Bhatti's big night

Scotstoun outfit move up to second in URC standings with comfortable win over Dragons

Glasgow Warriors returned to the United Rugby Championship in emphatic fashion by running in six tries against a spirited but limited Dragons side.

Warriors hadn’t played in this competition since the end of December but there was no sign of rustiness as they claimed the bonus-point 40-7 victory that sends them up into second place in the table, with only Leinster ahead of them. They scored three times in each half, with Ben Afshar and Facundo Cordero claiming their first tries for the club, but this was an all-round impressive team performance, especially with so many key figures missing.

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In a parallel world, Jamie Bhatti would have been resting up watching the game from the stand ahead of next weekend’s Calcutta Cup clash with England. Instead, having not played a minute during Scotland’s Six Nations matches against Wales or France, the loosehead prop was pressed back into club action in what was his 100th appearance for the club.

Glasgow Warriors drive towards the Dragons try line during the URC victory at Scotstoun.Glasgow Warriors drive towards the Dragons try line during the URC victory at Scotstoun.
Glasgow Warriors drive towards the Dragons try line during the URC victory at Scotstoun.

Dragons on a soggy Saturday night is not the most glamorous way to mark such a major landmark but Bhatti, unsurprisingly, tore into it with typically dogged enthusiasm. The Welsh side have won twice in the league all season and it wasn’t a surprise that Warriors – even without 11 regulars – dominated right from the first whistle. They scored two tries in the opening three minutes, giving supporters hope that the floodgates were going to happen, before Dragons regrouped to briefly slow Glasgow’s momentum.

Josh McKay got the home side on the board after just 30 seconds. Dragons’ scrum-half Dane Blacker sent up the box kick and the New Zealander flew highest through the air to gather. A gap appeared and suddenly the full-back spied his chance, navigating his way around some half-hearted tacklers to dot down underneath the posts. Ross Thompson converted.

It would get even better for Warriors just a few minutes later as they doubled their advantage. Tom Jordan found fellow centre Stafford McDowall and the captain picked the perfect line to cross the whitewash. Thompson added his second conversion of the night.

Dragons managed to regroup, although Glasgow didn’t help themselves with some sloppy handling on a wet night. Angus Fraser, on as a temporary replacement for Johnny Matthews, looked to keep the scoreboard ticking over with a dart for the line, throwing a dummy and powering through a tackle. Only his final pass to Jamie Dobie let him down.

Glasgow, though, would still find a third try before the interval. McDowall was the creator this time, running another great line to catch the Dragons defence off guard before slipping a pass inside to McKay who strolled over the line for his second try of the night. Thompson again added the extras to leave his team 21-0 up at the break.

There was no letting up in the second period. Afshar, making his first start at scrum-half, finished off a brilliant team counterattack to claim a maiden professional try as Warriors got the bonus point in the bag early in the half.

Dragons, to their credit, didn’t give up and finally got on the board when Will Reed powered over the line. It was Glasgow, though, who finished on top. Cordero scored after being found by a looping Duncan Weir pass before McDowall strolled over for Glasgow’s sixth try.