As a warm-up for one of the biggest matches in Glasgow’s history this performance was a tad underwhelming, at least in the first half, before someone lit the blue touch-paper under the Warriors who then produced the goods, and three tries, in the second 40.
Glasgow got their win and a precious bonus point to reclaim fourth place in the Guinness Pro12, but they have left plenty of room for improvement.
The first half was played into the breeze and the drizzle, which thankfully stopped for the second half, but that was no excuse for a first 40 that was sloppy and in sharp contrast to Munster’s commanding lesson in route-one rugby in Paris earlier in the day.
Glasgow scored early and dominated the first quarter to an embarrassing extent – possession stats suggest they had more than 90 per cent of the ball – and Cardiff failed to earn themselves a single set-piece play inside the Glasgow 22 throughout the first half… but still Glasgow’s half time lead was just 10-7. And even that slender advantage was soon rubbed out by Steven Shingler’s second penalty, just minutes after the restart.
With the match tied it looked like being a long evening for the home team but the contest was effectively decided in Glasgow’s favour thanks to two tries in the space of seven minutes from full-back Peter Murchie – who was enjoying a rare start in the absence of Stuart Hogg – even if there was a hint of a forward pass in the second of them.
Both scores were created by Tommy Seymour who came off his right wing to find a huge hole in the No.12 channel, earning two assists and the man-of-the-match award for his efforts.
The first try almost fell to Alex Dunbar, who backed himself despite support outside and was hauled down short of the line by winger Blaine Scully. Luckily Murchie was on hand to save his blushes, wrestling the ball from the winger and diving over.
Just minutes later Seymour did his trick again and this time the winger was hunted down by the speedy Cardiff full-back Matthew Morgan. Glasgow recycled the ball and Murchie was wide on the left for a simple score.
Warriors’ stand-off Finn Russell converted both and inside the third quarter the home side had carved out a 14-point lead and still had 25 minutes to find the bonus-point try from somewhere.
In the event it only took 11. Glasgow were back on the offensive. They won an attacking penalty, Russell went to the corner and the big men bullied their way to the Cardiff line with replacement hooker James Malcolm getting the back slaps on the 64th minute.
It was a satisfactory outcome although the home side have work to do if they are to keep Munster at bay next Saturday. Glasgow’s defence was less than watertight, with Cardiff’s centre combo of Rey Lee-Lo and Willis Halaholo both slicing open the home defence far too easily.
Even before they scored their first try, when winger Scully latched on to a loose kick by Russell, Cardiff had carved out two cast-iron opportunities that should have been stuck right in the back of the net. Alex Cuthbert knocked on under pressure instead of scoring, and scrum-half Lloyd Williams found a gap at the edge of the breakdown.
Glasgow dominated the first 40 with no more than a Pat MacArthur try on 12 minutes and a late penalty from Russell for all their efforts.
The half was drawing to a close when Russell, the man of the moment, tarnished his halo somewhat with an ill-considered chip kick deep inside his own 22.
A Cardiff defender got a hand to the kick in flight which meant it fell straight into the arms of Scully. Seymour gambled that he would get there in time and didn’t, leaving the winger with a free run to the corner.
Shingler converted that and two penalties to tie this match at 10-10 early in the second half but that seemed to galvanise Glasgow into producing their best and they duly did the necessary only to concede another soft score – this one fell to replacement Rhun Williams – in the final minutes of this match.