GLASGOW cemented their place at the top of the Guinness Pro 12 and they showed commendable patience in doing so. There was little to choose between these two teams. One penalty was all that separated them at full time.
The Ospreys fell behind but refused to lie down and roll over, taking the lead for the first time around the one hour mark.
It wasn’t until the final ten minutes that Glasgow’s makeshift side finally wrestled their way back into the driver’s seat thanks to twin penalties from the boot of Peter Horne.
Glasgow played the first half with what little breeze there was at their backs and they didn’t waste much time making it count, the first try coming after 13 minutes, unlucky for the Ospreys.
The build-up was bizarre. Ospreys won a free kick. Flyhalf Sam Davies made to kick the ball, Al Kellock charged as he is allowed to do and the referee awarded an attacking scrum.
Glasgow went left once and when the attack shifted quickly back to the right Niko Matawalu set Pat MacArthur up against Ospreys scrumhalf Martin Roberts and it was not a match of equals. Peter Horne’s touchline conversion crawled over with the help of the cross bar.
Things weren’t going the Osperys’ way. First up, the visitors lost three men to injury inside the opening 30 minutes, although centre Josh Matavesi was allowed to resume after passing various tests, and the their classy stand-off Sam Davies (son of Nigel) missed his opening two penalties at goal as Glasgow’s indiscipline could have cost them the lead. Perhaps he just needed a sighter because the stand-off made good with his third effort and fourth efforts.
Glasgow looked dangerous with the ball in hand but all too often the last pass went to ground. Horne linked beautifully with Matawalu but the Fijian overran his stand-off and the pass didn’t quite stick.
Fraser Lyle looked the part on his Scotstoun debut, making one superb break only to be called back for an earlier obstruction, and Richie Vernon’s has added a strong arm fend to his armoury and proved the weapon’s effectiveness on several occasions. Ali Price moves the ball from the breakdown quicker than any scrumhalf in Scotland.
The Ospreys were able to get a toe-hold in this game close thanks to bossing the breakdown, at least those rucks where Justin Tipuric was able to get his limpet like hands on the ball, and the high ball. Almost every time the visitors hoisted the ball into the floodlights they almost invariably recovered it. It seems to be a nationwide problem in Scotland, with the same issue cropping up in the Six Nations.
Horne kicked a penalty at the end of the first half and another at the start of the second 40 to extend Glasgow’s lead to a converted try, which is exactly what the Ospreys produced from a lineout move.
The ball was won in the middle of the line and one pass from scrumhalf to the right winger Tom Graham taking the ball in the No.10 channel was simplicity itself but more than enough to split the Glasgow defence wide open.
Minutes later the Ospreys won a penalty at a five metre scrum that Davies converted, nothing wrong with his radar now, and the Welsh side took a timely lead as the match entered the final quarter.
Townsend moved Matawalu to scrumhalf in an effort to find a breakthrough and Horne kicked his side level on 67 minutes with a simple kick dead in front of the posts.
Glasgow kept the pressure on. The two wingers, DTH Van der Merwe and Rory Hughes, combined up the right flank but the latter was tackled short of the line. Glasgow won a five metres scrum under the posts, the big men squeezed and George Clancy’s raised arm earned the referee his first cheer of the night. Horne kicked his fourth penalty of the match to give Glasgow the narrowest of victories but only after Davies missed a long-range effort of his own.
Scorers: Glasgow: Tries: MacArthur. Cons: Horne. Pens: Horne (4). Ospreys: Tries: Graham. Cons: Davies. Pens: Davies (3)
Glasgow: Murchie, Matawalu, Vernon, Lyle, van der Merwe; Horne, Price (Hughes 64); Grant (Allan 40), MacArthur (K Bryce 64), De Klerk, Nakawara (McKenzie 59), Kellock Capt), Eddie, Holmes (Bordill 34), Strauss.
Ospreys: Evans, Graham, Spratt, Matavesi, Howells (Dirksen 11); Davies, Roberts; Bevington (Thomas 2), Baldwin, Jarvis, Cavubati (Thornton 50), Ardon (Capt), King, Tipuric, Baker.
Referee: George Clancy.