Cardiff Blues v Glasgow Warriors
Glasgow Warriors produced an outstanding forward-based performance at the Arms Park on Saturday night to claim a comprehensive 18-3 win over Cardiff Blues.
It was the Warriors’ fourth RaboDirect PRO12 success on the bounce, and a second in the space of three weeks on Welsh soil following the 28-10 triumph at reigning champions Ospreys.
The Glasgow scrum established monumental dominance over their counterparts in the set piece, laying the ideal platform for victory, only our second at the Arms Park and a first since 2002.
RaboDirect Man of the Match Mike Cusack set the tone with his finest display in a Warriors jersey on the tight-head, while fellow front rowers Ryan Grant, Dougie Hall and Gordon Reid also weighed in with valuable contributions.
The Warriors’ points all came courtesy of the boot of Peter Horne, the centre who assumed kicking duties for the night and duly banged over six great penalties.
Head coach Townsend told www.glasgowwarriors.org: “I’m delighted to have claimed another win in a difficult place like the Arms Park. Without ever really cutting loose, we controlled the game and showed excellent discipline and determination.
Our scrum was absolutely outstanding. Mike Cusack is going from strength to strength for us and once more delivered when it counted. The pack overall were first class and put us in a great position to go on and win the game.
“Peter Horne kicked very well and also showed his ability in a lot of other facets. It’s great to get the win, and we now start preparing for what will be a huge test next Sunday in Northampton.”
Cusack made clear Glasgow’s set-piece intentions by forcing the first of many scrum penalties in the third minute. The Warriors were soon winning one against the head as well, and Horne stepped up to goal confidently from out right.
After a period of Cardiff pressure, Horne won a crucial turnover, and with John Barclay delivering an unexpectedly impressive kick downfield to turn the screw, the Blues killed the ball, presenting Horne with another penalty opportunity which he duly took.
Glasgow maintained their threat, forcing Cardiff to once more err at the breakdown. From out left, Horne showed the same composure to put the Warriors 9-0 up after 26 minutes.
The visitors’ comprehensive supremacy at the set-piece ensured that the Welsh couldn’t bring into play their array of backline talents, and indeed it was Sean Lamont who took the honours in this regard with his sharpest performance since returning to the Warriors in the summer.
With replacement Grant joining forces with Cusack to make a mess of the Blues front row, Horne put Glasgow 12-0 up from a position right of centre 22 metres out.
As Glasgow made a blood substitution, Stuart Hogg replacing burst nose victim Petre Murchie, Cardiff got on the scoresheet courtesy of a Lee Halfpenny penalty. Murchie didn’t return to the fray – an unfortunate way to “celebrate” 50 games in the black and blue.
Hogg underlined his class with a shimmering break soon after the restart, putting Glasgow deep in Cardiff territory where they forced another penalty at a maul. Horne stroked the ball between the uprights with the minimum of fuss to send the Warriors on their way once more.
The centre repeated the trick in the 59th minute after yet another scrum penalty. The game looked to have taken a turn in the Blues’ favour immediately after, as Halfpenny exploited an overlap on the right to surge for the line. It looked for all the world like the little man would cross in the corner, but we hadn’t reckoned on Hogg applying extraordinary pressure to force him to lose control of the ball. The TMO confirmed that no try should be awarded.
Glasgow lost Hall to the sin bin in somewhat mysterious circumstances as the game entered its closing stages, but never really looked in any danger. They might even have stretched their advantage late on, scrum-half debutant Niko Matawalu looking mighty sharp.
Another new signing, Ofa Fainga’anuku, put in a colossal hit on Blues centre Jamie Roberts, to the delight of the Warriors supporters scattered throughout the stadium.
It was, overall, a night for the big men, and their even bigger hearts.
Full-time: Cardiff Blues 3 Warriors 18
Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny; 14 Harry Robinson, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tom James; 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Lloyd Williams; 1 Campese Ma’afu, 2 Rhys Williams, 3 Benoit Bourrust, 4 James Down, 5 Lou Reed, 6 Rory Watts-Jones, 7 Josh Navidi, 8 Andries Pretorius (CAPTAIN)
Substitutes: 16 Marc Breeze, 17 Taufa’ao Filise, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Dan Fish
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Peter Murchie; 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Sean Lamont; 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Henry Pyrgos; 1 Gordon Reid, 2 Dougie Hall, 3 Mike Cusack, 4 Tom Ryder, 5 Al Kellock (CAPTAIN), 6 Josh Strauss, 7 John Barclay, 8 Ryan Wilson
Substitutes: 16 Finlay Gillies, 17 Ofa Fainga’anuku, 18 Ryan Grant, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Niko Matawalu, 22 Byron McGuigan, 23 Stuart Hogg
Referee: G Vivarini (FIR