Stuart Hogg makes his presence felt on Glasgow return

Returning full-back Stuart Hogg makes a break for Glasgow during an impressive win over Exeter on Saturday. Picture: SNS/SRU
Returning full-back Stuart Hogg makes a break for Glasgow during an impressive win over Exeter on Saturday. Picture: SNS/SRU
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Glasgow finally notched their first European win of this campaign at their last attempt in front of their home fans who will have been delighted by the performance but may just wonder where this form has been hiding these last few months.

After scoring the opening try of the match after exactly 68 seconds, Stuart Hogg with his first touch of the ball, Glasgow then spent long periods of the first half stuck deep inside their own half of the field.

Exeter, so clinical in that opening fixture back in October, were unable to make much of a dent in a determined Warriors defence that had clearly learned some lessons, although Sam Simmonds eventually elbowed his way over from short range and the players went to the half-time sheds with the match tied 
at 7-7.

If the first 40 had been a little ordinary, the second half burned bright, with five tries in all, three of which went to the home side, including a penalty try for a deliberate knock-on after 50 minutes, which also saw Chiefs’ scrum-half Nic White sent to the bin. Glasgow cut loose against 14 men, scoring two tries while the visitors were short-staffed and, having scored the opener, Hogg had a big hand in both of the next two long-distance scores. A link man for Tommy Seymour’s touchdown, the full-back sparked Matt Fagerson’s score, attacking directly from the kick-off. He looked like he’d never been away.

“I had some fun,” Hogg said after the game. “We got ourselves into good positions at times. We had nothing really to gain other than points in the table and a lot of pride at stake. We wanted to work on things we can work on for the rest of the season and thankfully it came off for us at times. We chucked the ball about from our own line and there were a few swear words when Finn Russell wanted to run from there but thankfully it came off for us. I just wanted to get out there. It has been a tough old season having to stand back and watch and be in rehab. I wanted to have some fun with the boys and what a cracking result that was for the team.

“I rolled my ankle in training and found myself back to square one. It is not easy to get back into the team. It has been a challenging year so far and it is good to be back so hopefully I can kick on personally and collectively as a team.”

Hogg was just one positive, George Horne another at scrum-half, Matt Fagerson was immense, both with and without the ball, while the performance of Grant Stewart needs a mention. The hooker came off the bench in the opening minutes for the injured George Turner and didn’t look out of place.

Gregor Townsend will not only be sweating on the fitness of Turner but Alex Dunbar, pictured, was another first-half casualty, going off early in the game after a big impact for a head injury assessment, never to reappear.

To their credit Exeter dug deep and, with their European dreams slipping away, they produced two quickfire tries to drag themselves back into this contest.

It wasn’t to be. Glasgow’s defence showed more urgency than has been the case this season and the Chiefs made some uncharacteristic handling errors to help the home side over the finish line.

Will such a victory over the English champions, Hogg was asked, give Scotland a fillip going into the Six Nations?

“Yeah, if everyone is performing well they will go in there with confidence and it will make it a better Six Nations, the full-back replied. “For us, we were just concentrating on beating Exeter and that worked out well for us.

“It is always easier going into the Scotland camp after a victory. All the boys have smiles on their faces and everybody seemed to enjoy that today so it is all about taking that from today into the camp tomorrow. These are exciting times. The Six Nations is just round the corner. It is important we recover and get ready to fire into that. I feel fresh. I have been sitting on my arse for long enough.”