Glasgow Warriors v Newport Gwent Dragons
Glasgow Warriors suffered just their second RaboDirect PRO12 defeat of the season this evening as they succumbed to a tenacious Dragons side at Scotstoun.
The Warriors got off to the perfect start after just a couple of minutes, when they capitalised on Dragons’ centre Pat Leach’s early yellow card to score the game’s first try.
Scott Wight brilliantly picked out returning Lion Stuart Hogg and the full-back found flying Fijian Niko Matawalu, who scampered clear to score.
Henry Pyrgos missed the conversion, but it was the perfect start for Gregor Townsend’s men (5-0).
However, the visitors responded with a pair of Jason Tovey penalties shortly after, as they took the lead inside quarter of an hour (5-6).
The match almost came to life on the half-hour as Richie Rees intercepted but the scrum-half couldn’t locate a colleague with his pass which allowed the Warriors to counter.
Stuart Hogg and DTH Van Der Merwe broke, but the Warriors full-back knocked on in the tackle and the chance was lost.
The visiting stand-off was at the heart of the action moments later as a mistake from Matawalu on his own line allowed Tovey to dive on the loose ball and score.
He added the conversion to make it an eight-point game approaching half-time.
HALF-TIME: Glasgow Warriors 5-13 Dragons
The second period began brightly for the Warriors, who quickly reduced the deficit thanks to a Henry Pyrgos penalty, following good work by the pack (8-13).
It was a scrappy affair, with neither side able to take control of the match as the freezing conditions made running rugby virtually impossible.
Dragons found themselves a man light for the second time when winger Matthew Pewtner was sent to the sin-bin, and the Warriors looked to take immediate advantage.
Good work from the home pack again set the platform, but a dropped pass out wide allowed Tovey to break clear.
The Welsh stand-off tried to put Will Harries flying down the touchline but they failed to connect and the Warriors regained possession.
The pair combined shortly after to devastating effect, as Tovey’s pin-point kick bounced into the arms of Harries who sneaked over in the corner.
Tovey added the conversion from the touchline, taking the score to 8-20.
On the hour, the visitors’ resources were further reduced with Netani Talei becoming the third man to see yellow on the night, and the Warriors looked to take advantage with McGuigan and Matawalu to the fore.
However, not for the first time, the visitors’ defence held firm and the Warriors were repelled, despite lengthy periods of pressure inside Dragons territory.
Tovey landed a drop-goal with just five minutes remaining to seal the victory for the Welshmen, capping a man of the match performance from the Dragons stand-off.
Matawalu attempted to launch an attack with a series of quick tap penalties late on, but to no avail and Dragons held on to claim a hard-fought win.
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 DTH Van Der Merwe, 12 Finn Russell, 11 Niko Matawalu, 10 Scott Wight, 9 Henry Pyrgos; 1 Gordon Reid, 2 Dougie Hall, 3 Ed Kalman, 4 Tom Ryder, 5 Al Kellock (captain), 6 Rob Harley, 7 Chris Fusaro, 8 Richie Vernon
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown (on for Hall, 65’), 17 George Hunter, 18 Jon Welsh (on for Kalman, 58’), 19 James Eddie (on for Harley, 65’), 20 Leone Nakarawa (on for Kellock, 53’), 21 Josh Strauss (on for Fusaro, 57’) 22 Mark Bennett (on for Pyrgos, 53’), 23 Jack Steele (on for Wight, 72’)
Dragons: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Will Harries, 13 Patrick Leach, 12 Ross Wardle, 11 Matthew Pewtner, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Richie Rees; 1 Owen Evans, 2 Sam Parry, 3 Francisco Chaparro, 4 Cory Hill, 5 Rob Sidloi (captain), 6 Lewis Evans, 7 Nick Cudd, 8 Netani Talei
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee (on for Parry, 72’), 17 Aaron Coundley (on for O. Evans, 65’), 18 Dan Way (on for Chaparro, 65’), 19 Matthew Screech (on for Sidoli, 73’), 20 Ieuan Jones (on for Cudd, 78’), 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Steffan Jones, 23 Ashley Smith (on for Wardle, 76’