A good crowd packed into Bridgehaugh to see what Glasgow Warriors look like under new management and the answer was much the same as they looked under the old one… only better.
“I am proud of those boys,” said head coach Dave Rennie after the match. “Northampton had a big chunk of their guns out today and I thought our boys played really well.
“We asked them to be brutal. We carried hard. Our clean out was really good. Individual tackles… there was a lot of aggression. We’ve got lots to move on but the attitude was great.”
Glasgow scored two tries to three for the visitors but they dominated the first and the final quarters of this match and emerged with plenty of credit. Any number of players put their hands up and the Warriors were leading by seven points before two late tries earned Northampton the win.
Glasgow made good use of a handy wind, dominating the opening quarter and getting their noses ahead thanks to George Horne whose brain moves every bit as quickly as his legs.
After full-back Rory Hughes did the hard work, running back a Saints’ clearance kick, the scrum-half spotted Robbie Nairn unmarked on the right flank and fired a bullet across the line which found the winger who made good ground before returning the favour for Horne to score.
That excellent try paled in comparison to Glasgow’s second which arrived in the middle of the third quarter just when it looked like Northampton were turning the screw. It was a length-of-the-field effort, started by centre Paddy Kelly’s break and finished off by skipper Adam Ashe 80 yards later with half a dozen players involved.
Both scores were converted by Adam Hastings who was under the microscope but stood up to the scrutiny pretty well, despite the odd hiccup. Almost inevitably the stand-off was targeted by Saints’ big men but after being run over by a couple of Midland buses, he jumped to his feet and made a 60 metre touch-finder which finished no distance from the Saints’ line.
Above all Hastings looked composed and his kick-pass at the start of the second half, that fell perfectly for Lee Jones, was a thing of beauty. There was enough about the young stand-off to think that he may offer an long-term alternative in the ten shirt.
He wasn’t alone. Matt Smith plays like a young Michael Hooper, he made at least one turnover but left a few out on the field. The openside gets into a lot of good positions over the ball but doesn’t always complete the steal, which will come with time and experience.
Scott Cummings and Matt Fagerson are both workhorses in the forward pack and the front row did well to win several scrum penalties before tiring, with the rest of the pack, as the first half progressed.
Jamie Bhatti celebrated his call up to the Scotland squad by driving the opposition backwards in the very first scrum.
Saints took advantage of a tiring home team to score a good try from centre Ahsee Tuala towards the end of the first 40 and would have had another at the beginning of the second but for one woeful pass.
Instead Glasgow broke out, Ashe scored the try of the match only to see Saints score twice in as many minutes during the final stretch to grab a late win they scarcely deserved.