It’s nice to see that sport still retains the capacity to surprise even if Dave Rennie may not agree. The lowly Southern Kings, without a win this season, bested the unbeaten league leaders and they did so in some style.
The Kings scored five tries, the fourth of which was a length-of-the-field piece of individual brilliance by centre Harlon Klaasen. Glasgow finally found their feet in the final quarter when they managed four tries of their own, two of which fell to South African-born DTH van der Merwe. But it was too late to salvage anything other than a solitary bonus point from the ruins of this game.
“We were just far too loose, a lot of dropped balls and really slow to react to them,” said full-back Ruaridh Jackson. “They were obviously fired up, physical and pounced on anything loose and severely punished us. It will be a painful one to look back on, that’s for sure.”
From the sidelines the multitude of mistakes suggested complacency?
“With all the dropped balls and stuff it maybe looks that way,” said Jackson. “Certainly, from a personal point of view, there was no taking these guys lightly.
“We saw last week against the Cheetahs how punished we were in the first half and we spoke about it this week and it was frustrating to see out on the pitch that when we dropped balls we were slow to react again. It’s going to take a few honest looks in the mirror.”
Trailing 24-0 at the break you could still see Glasgow’s try-scoring ability digging them out of a hole in the second half but Klaasen scored his wonder try on 52 minutes and stand-off du Toit grabbed his second in the middle of the Warriors scoring spree to take the game out of the visitors’ reach.
Glasgow finished the stronger of the two teams and Rennie had selected a largely second-string team for this fixture but all that will count for nothing.
The Warriors were hapless and hopeless, falling off tackles, turning the ball over and practically escorting the Kings towards the try line in an embarrassing defensive display.
Things improved in that final quarter. Adam Hastings, pictured, made an immediate impact when he replaced the out of sorts Peter Horne on 53 minutes but even the youngster was guilty of not taking care of the ball.
After making a sublime break up the middle of the field, he threw a wayward pass that Ali Price could not hold. Hastings’ cut-out pass for van der Merwe’s first try was a cut above most of this morass and the young stand-off at least brought some much-needed urgency to proceedings. Is the club already becoming reliant on Hastings just as it looked to Finn Russell in the past?
“I think we see it time and time again. You get young guys coming through and he’s one that I don’t think will shy away from the pressure of the limelight,” replied Jackson who was that young stand-off a decade back.
“I think it was a team thing more than any purely individual, everyone clicking together and the game really opened up and really suited his game. I think we’ve got enough talent throughout this squad that I don’t think we’ll become 100 per cent reliant on him. But I think he’s the type of character that I think could handle that anyway, so it’s not something we need to worry about too much.”
Rennie isn’t short of things to worry about. Yaw Penxe found space on the right flank to score the Kings’ opening try after five minutes and he was quickly followed over the line by du Toit four minutes later. With this early success, the Kings grew another arm and on 18 minutes they claimed a third through scrum-half Rudi van Rooysten.
Both teams had tries wiped off by the TMO and Glasgow failed to take advantage of a yellow card for winger Penxe who had upturned DTH van der Merwe in an ugly looking tackle that could have resulted in red on another occasion.
Following a second-half yellow for flanker Henry Brown, Glasgow finally broke their duck with quickfire tries by Grigg, van der Merwe (twice) and Fraser Brown. But du Toit’s second try split the Glasgow scores and the Kings had their second Pro14 win.