A comedy blunder from Mark Bennett, the Scotland centre released for a club appearance, summed up Glasgow’s afternoon as they edged up to seventh in the Guinness Pro12 with a performance that promised so much more but failed to deliver when it mattered.
The other main topic to come out of the game was the showing from the various Scotland candidates on show, led by Henry Pyrgos, making his 100th appearance for the club but also anxious to try to blitz his way back Into the national set-up for the RBS Six Nations Championship.
He must have come close, his individual breaks and speed of service a constant bonus for his side whenever the forwards managed to produce clean ball, with lock Tim Swinson always willing to put himself about and hooker Fraser Brown producing one of the moments of pure class to set up the opening try. Alex Dunbar, who may be in line for a Scotland return after being taken off at half time, had a strong first half without being able to find the killer touch.
Bennett, whose involvement in the game in a fallow week in the Six Nations a throws a question mark over his Scotland place, was summed up by his mistake. Moments of brilliance, some effective defensive work and a mainly solid display ultimately let down by a couple of mistakes, with that the most glaring.
He had popped up on the wing outside Rory Hughes, to make the extra man and race through to the try line. He was well over the line with nobody around him when he went to put the ball down – only he decided to do it one handed and dropped it six inches before it hit the deck. No try, scrum to Cardiff and a red face for Bennett.
The strange thing had been that it had needed Swinson’s try from the final move of the first half to send Glasgow into the changing room with a 20-point lead, a much poorer return than their all-round play deserved with scoring chances being squandered with abandon.
That was the most clear cut but another break from Bennett could have produced a score if the ball had been got away more quickly, the same after a bullocking run from Zander Fagerson. Add several more times when they dropped passes with the defence broken and the two tries and two penalties were less than they deserved.
To be fair, the tries had been well worked, Brown had created the first with a midfield break for Gordon Reid to finish from two feet out, and Swinson’s was the final play of an extended period of attack with Bennett and Lee Jones setting up the final surge.
Also, the string of penalties against Cardiff, two kicked by Duncan Weir, were evidence of a team willing to give away three points to prevent the other side getting seven, so there was more than a sense of frustration in the home ranks when they arrived back to play 40 minutes into the wind.
It seemed to make more difference than you would have expected with Cardiff coming into the match for the first time as their forwards began to dominate the scrums and the home side continued to turn breaks into mistakes instead of scores.
As more of the play took place in the Glasgow half, the visitors managed to get on the scoreboard with Rhys Platchell, the full back, slotting an easy penalty, but it was still the Scots making most of the running in open play until Dan Fish produced a moment of individual brilliance to chip into space and win the race to touch down himself.
Normal service was quickly established when Peter Murchie was taken out in the air catching the kick off and Glasgow mauled the resulting line out over the line for Simone Favaro to score their third try, but Cardiff answered it with a similar one for Ellis Jenkins and then Cardiff grabbed the losing bonus point with a try long past the 80-minute mark from Macauley Cook.