Glasgow Warriors pile on tries after slow start

Not so many years back, if a Glasgow/Dragons game was taking place in your back garden you'd have drawn the curtains, such was the stodgy fare on offer. Now, thanks to Scotstoun's artificial pitch, a let-up in the weather and genuine ambition from both sides, we were entertained by a nine-try extravaganza, even if it was a little too one-sided to truly engage any but the hard core '¨Warrior fans.

Mark Bennett breaks away to score his long-range try against Dragons. Picture: SNS.

The Dragons scored the first try of the match and the 
visitors scored the final try of this contest but, in between those two tries, Glasgow were at their imperious best, running in seven of their own with contributions from Peter Horne, Ratu Tagive, Mark Bennett – from fully 40 metres – Rory Hughes and Lee Jones, both wingers getting in on the act and Nick Grigg picking up a brace in the first half when this match was finely balanced.

“Very pleased with that,” said the little Kiwi centre. “There are positive vibes in the changing room. The last few weeks have been tough.

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“We played at pace today and were accurate and got the five points. I took the opportunities, I guess, and thanks to the boys for giving me the opportunity to run through to score. It was all down to accuracy. In the last few weeks we dropped the ball and it was all a bit frustrating. That was tough. It was a battle for the first 40 minutes but, after that, accuracy and pace came away with it.”

As Grigg highlights, Glasgow did not have things all their own way, falling 10-0 behind in the opening exchanges and only taking the lead around the half-hour mark, after which there was no stopping them as they finally clicked into a masterful display of all court rugby involving backs and forwards with no heed to the number on a player’s back.

On the flip side, Richie Vernon, only recently returned to action, limped off the field just before the break with what was thought to be an Achilles problem.

With a breakaway injury crisis at the club, Vernon was replaced by second row Scott Cummings, the former Scotland 20s skipper doing a good job in an 
unfamiliar position. The Dragons’ feeble tackling further undermined what was clearly going to be a losing cause, although the half-back pairing of Sorel Pretorious and Angus O’Brien did their best to 
counter-punch off the ropes.

Even after banking the bonus point win, the Warriors remain seven points off the play-off places in the Guinness Pro12, the Scarlets in fourth on 53, Glasgow on 46, and they are fast running out of 
matches to catch up. The 
Warriors have already played 17 to date with another five games on their card, but they include tough-looking fixtures on the road against Leinster and Munster, not that coach Gregor Townsend was ruling anything out.

“When we saw the fixture list we knew it would be tough,” said the Glasgow boss. “In November, we had Scarlets away when we were missing internationals. We knew it would be really hard and would really test our resources, but I don’t think we played as well as we could have, as well as this group is capable of.

“At the front of your mind there’s disappointment. In the back of your mind there’s encouragement. We were missing so many players but we were still disappointed not to come away from Ospreys with a win or from Ulster with a better performance.

“We will see how the other teams do. Scarlets have had a fantastic Six Nations period and they had a great win away to Munster [last weekend]. We will see how they get on.”

Glasgow are fighting on two fronts because they have that first European quarter-final against Saracens in the middle of the final league furlong and Townsend will want to put his best foot forward on the big stage while doing everything he can to squeeze into the top four of the Pro12.

“We all realise that it is going to have to be wins from here on in. If we can do that then that might put us in with a chance.”