THEY may have had Lou Reed in the second row but it was far from a perfect day for Cardiff Blues. Instead Glasgow cemented their place at the top of the Guinness Pro 12 in front of a full house at Scotstoun, cruising to a convincing win despite a slow start and an unconvincing final quarter.
Scorers: Glasgow: Tries: Hall, Horne (3), Ashe. Cons: Horne (3), Russell. Pens: Horne. Cardiff: Tries: G Davies, Fish. Cons: Anscombe (2). Pens: Anscombe.
There wasn’t one aspect of the game in which the Blues were properly competitive never mind superior. Glasgow bossed the scrums, threw the ball about with increasing confidence and only in the final quarter, with the match already lost, did Cardiff raise a head of steam and grab a couple of consolation tries that gave this match the impression of being competitive if only on the scoreboard.
It was a night to remember for centre Peter Horne who grabbed a hat-trick of tries and three conversions in just 13 first-half minutes to remind the watching Scotland coach Vern Cotter that he can do a pretty effective shift at second five.
Horne left the field to a standing ovation early in the second half to be replaced by Duncan Weir who made his first appearance for four months following that bicep injury.
Glasgow had the bonus point in the bag by half-time and finished the game with a total of five tries to their credit. Cardiff were lucky to finish second. Spare a thought for the Blues’ Kiwi full-back Gareth Anscombe who quit Super Rugby’s Chiefs for this lot.
The Blues are one of the few sides in the league with nothing to play for. They are currently “in between” coaches and it showed. Their “umbrella defence” briefly bamboozled the home side but once Glasgow started attacking the inexperienced 10/12 channel at pace, the Blues defence never looked equal to the task, or even that interested to be honest.
Their twin opensides Josh Navidi and Sam Warburton did their best to staunch the flow of quick Glasgow ball but they were up against a tsunami of players coming at them from all angles and perhaps even inventing a few of their own.
It was all too much for another Kiwi recruit whose frustration spilled over into retribution.
Blues’ lock Jarrad Hoeata hit Peter Murchie with a stiff arm tackle around the neck… oh, and the Glasgow full-back didn’t even have the ball at the time. It was probably sympathy for the visitors that persuaded referee George Clancy to show yellow rather than a red card.
The two kickers, Horne and Anscombe, had already exchanged early penalties when Dougie Hall grabbed the first try of the game in what was widely presumed to be his Scotstoun farewell.
Both he and skipper Al Kellock briefly turned Scotstoun into a makeshift crèche by walking on to the field festooned with kids.
The lavish farewell was nothing less than the pair deserved, but it does rather suggest that neither man will be in the starting XV that faces Ulster in the final game of the season.
As with London buses, you wait 24 minutes for one and another try turned up just three minutes after Hall’s opening effort.
This was sparked by a mis-pass by Finn Russell that bought Tommy Seymour some space but not nearly as much as Cardiff’s porous defence did.
The winger found Peter Murchie on his inside and the full-back fed Horne for the score. An impatient crowd had to wait a whole four minutes before they were rewarded with Horne’s second score.
Seymour again made a half break in the midfield and Horne was on hand to take the pop pass and scoot under the sticks.
It went to the TMO but referee Clancy was the only one in Scotstoun to harbour any doubts and there was no such question mark over Horne’s third touchdown and Glasgow’s fourth with the last move of the first half.
Cardiff enjoyed some possession at the start of the second half and still No 8 Adam Ashe scored for Glasgow, utilising turnover ball to run in from 50 metres after a textbook fend on a less-than-textbook tackle. It proved to be Glasgow’s final score of the evening.
Cardiff then got a consolation score on the 60-minute mark when quick thinking by winger Dan Fish sent stand-off Gareth Davies scurrying behind the posts before Fish himself finished off the best move the visitors put together all evening, Navidi sending him on his way.
With Glasgow’s lead cut from 36-3 to 36-17, the crowd were getting restless, especially when Fish dropped a scoring pass a few minutes later that would have made the match very interesting.
Instead, Glasgow saw out the remainder of the match without further mishap.
Glasgow: Murchie; Seymour, Vernon, Horne (Weir), van der Merwe (Jones 22); Russell, Pyrgos (Price 68); Yanuyanutawa (Reid 55), Hall (MacArthur 50), Cusack (Welsh 55), Swinson, Kellock (capt), Harley, Fusaro, Ashe (Strauss 50).
Cardiff: Anscombe; Cuthbert, Isaacs, Smith, Fish (Smith 77); Davies (Humberstone 70), Knoyle (L Jones); Hobbs (Thomas Davies), Dacey (Rhys 50), A Jones, Hoeata (Jenkins 63), Reed, Cook, Warburton (Capt), Navidi.
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