Glasgow Warriors 37-10 Bath
Glasgow Warriors made a statement in their opening match of the 2014/15 Champions Cup, mixing a rapier-sharp attack with resolute defence to claim a 37-10 victory over Bath at Scotstoun.
Mark Bennett crossed for two of the club’s five tries in front of the Warrior Nation, on an afternoon that displayed all that is celebrated about Glasgow rugby.
With Scotstoun bathed in sunshine, the Warrior Nation could scarcely have asked for more perfect conditions for running rugby. Yet the early exchanges were dominated by the boot as both sides looked to suss the other out, George Ford’s fourth-minute penalty giving Bath an early lead.
On their first venture into Bath territory, though, the Warriors struck with aplomb. Swift hands from a midfield scrum allowed Tommy Seymour to make the initial incision, before good interplay from the Glasgow pack took the hosts to within 15 metres. It was then left to Bennett to provide the cutting edge, running a sublime switch line off Duncan Weir to crash over under the posts. Weir himself converted, and the Warriors led 7-3 after 10 minutes.
That lead lasted for all of 90 seconds, however. A swirling high kick from Ford evaded the clutches of Stuart Hogg, with Jonathan Joseph on hand to scoop up the loose ball and race home from 25 metres. With Ford adding the extras, the visitors led by three once more.
Undaunted, the Warriors were happy to rely on their patented style of attacking play. A trademark offload out of a three-man tackle from Leone Nakarawa sent Seymour scampering into the Bath 22, with the visitors conceding the penalty in their attempts to scramble back. The indiscretion was punished from the tee by Weir, and the scores were level after 18 minutes.
A further Weir penalty nudged Glasgow in front on 23 minutes, before the Warriors delivered a Scotstoun sucker-punch. After denying Bath a try at one end, the Warriors crossed for a score of their own at the other. Seymour’s soaring take of Henry Pyrgos’ box-kick gave Glasgow the perfect field position, before the ball was whipped across the field to Sean Maitland. The British and Irish Lion showed superb strength to provide the finish under pressure from Joseph and Anthony Watson, Weir’s conversion drifting wide to leave the scoreboard reading 18-10 to the home side.
If Glasgow’s second try was a sucker-punch, the third was a hammer blow. A quick tap from Pyrgos from a free-kick caught the Bath defence sleeping, with Hogg delivering the scoring pass to Seymour for the simplest of finishes in the corner. The conversion attempt sailed wide, but with a 23-10 half-time lead Glasgow were in no mood to complain.
There was no let-up from the Warriors at the start of the second stanza; a powerful surge from Adam Ashe, another sublime offload from Nakarawa and a perfectly weighted grubber from Hogg had the Scotstoun faithful applauding a score from Chris Fusaro just two minutes after the restart. Yet referee Jerome Garces had other ideas, ruling out the score for a knock-on from DTH van der Merwe in the build-up.
Glasgow were clearly in no mood to relinquish their grip on proceedings; the tactical nous of Pyrgos and Weir ensured that the home side remained firmly in control, with the Warriors pack carrying with menace at every opportunity.
Yet Bath continued to exert pressure on the Glasgow defence, as the English side looked for a way back into the match. Indeed Stuart Hooper was a matter of inches away from touching down on 55 minutes, with only Euan Murray’s timely intervention denying the Bath captain.
There was a sense that the next score would be crucial, and it duly arrived on 65 minutes. To the delight of the Warrior Nation it was to go the way of their side; a turnover from Tim Swinson recovered possession for Glasgow on halfway, before replacement scrum-half Niko Matawalu injected some trademark flair into proceedings. A step, a kick off the outside of the boot and some assistance from Maitland and Bennett allowed the Fijian to dive over in the corner, Weir converting with the aid of the left-hand upright for a 30-10 lead.
Then, with 10 minutes remaining, came the icing on the cake. An inside ball on their own 22 saw the Warriors send Mark Bennett racing through a gap, the centre linking up with van der Merwe to take play over halfway. Faced with Rokoduguni as the covering defender, the Canadian’s grubber kick ahead was calmly regathered by Bennett in the in-goal area for a try confirmed by the TMO. Another successful conversion from Weir took the score to 37-10, and the result was well and truly beyond doubt.
Nevertheless, the Warrior Nation continued to roar their side’s every action until the final blast of referee Garces’ whistle. A famous European victory secured, then, and a bonus-point victory to kick-start their Champions Cup campaign – all in all, a successful afternoon for Glasgow Warriors.