The Warriors duly ended a three-match losing streak in the Guinness Pro12 with this regulation win over the Dragons at Scotstoun but Gregor Townsend’s troops have only rarely hit their straps this season and they struggled for the first 40 yesterday afternoon before stretching their legs and their lead in the second half, five of their seven tries coming after the break.
Much is made of Glasgow losing players to the national squad during the Six Nations but they started 12 full internationals so the Warriors had little excuse for ending the first quarter trailing 10-0 to the weakest of the four Welsh regions.
“You can put it down to rustiness or the fact the Dragons played well,” said coach Gregor Townsend when quizzed about that slow start. “We weren’t in place defensively early on but we looked to play a bit more today once we saw the weather and that isn’t always going to be mistake free.
“We know we have a lot of ground to catch up [for a play-off place] and we are relying on teams above us to lose but teams above us will have to play each other and we have to play a couple of them as well. It was just great to finish this series with a win and a lot of positive play.”
Peter Horne, right, looked the part at ten, pulling the strings, kicking six from seven off the tee and scoring Glasgow’s final try. Mark Bennett showed up well especially in that second half but both men were overshadowed by Nick Grigg who scored two of Glasgow’s tries and helped create another two of them. Man of the match went to lock “Big Brian” Alainu’uese who got through a mountain of work.
The home team played the entire second half with Scott Cummings, a lock by trade, in the back row after No.8 Richie Vernon, a wannabe centre, limped off just before the break; not that it affected them except in a positive way.
Matters improved significantly after the half-time Bovril but the home side were a little slap-dash in the first half, failing to look after the ball and coughing up soft penalties to give their guests a toe-hold in this contest. The opening try was a case in point.
Winger Rory Hughes was penalised for crawling along the floor with the ball and minutes later the same man was bundled into touch in goal in possession. Two phases on from the ensuing scrum and the Dragons’ lock Rynard Landman picked up the ball and placed it just short of the Glasgow line before rolling it until the tip touched the whitewash… if only just.
Glasgow found themselves trailing at the end of the opening quarter but their blushes were saved by a quick-fire double by pint-sized centre Grigg. The first was a close-range effort after a long series of five metres scrums on 28 minutes. The second, coming just before the break, was a beautiful solo effort with a midfield break from the little man who finished with a flourish, stepping the last defender.
Hughes celebrated his birthday with a try almost immediately after the re-start in a display of comically bad defending from the Dragons who scragged the big winger 15 yards out but still allowed him to drive his way over the line.
Hughes was replaced by the Australian recruit Ratu Tagive, who grabbed the bonus-point try with his first touch of the ball when Grigg, again, made the break on the right flank. The ball was recycled and stand-off Horne’s cross-field dink was inch perfect for Tagive to score unopposed on the opposite side of the field. He was followed over the line by Lee Jones before Grigg’s inside pass opened up the field for his midfield partner Bennett who sprinted home from 40 yards out.
Four minutes from the end sub Brandon Thomson sent Horne over the line for Glasgow’s seventh and final try but there was still time, with the clock in the red numbers, for visiting centre Tyler Morgan to have the last say with a consolation score under the posts.