Glasgow Warriors V Toyota Cheetahs
Glasgow Warriors maintained their unbeaten home record in the Guinness PRO14 and secured their place in the end of season Final Series, recording an impressive 37-23 victory over the Toyota Cheetahs at Scotstoun.Henry Pyrgos is congratulated after scoring Glasgow's fifth try
On a night where Rob Harley joined former centre Graeme Morrison as the most-capped Warrior in the club’s history, Dave Rennie’s side ran in five tries to secure the try bonus-point against their South African opponents.
With the wet conditions making handling tricky in the early stages, both sides looked to dominate territory through the boot, as Ruaridh Jackson and Adam Hastings pinning the visitors in their 22.
However, against the run of play, it would be the Cheetahs that would register the opening try of the evening. As the Warriors attacked, the ball was ripped from the possession of the Glasgow forwards and delivered into the hands of Malcolm Jaer, with the winger sprinting 80 metres to touch down. Niel Marais converted, and the South African side led 7-0 after ten minutes.
The visitors’ lead lasted all of two minutes. Front-foot ball from a lineout saw Adam Hastings slip a delightful delayed ball in behind to Niko Matawalu, with the flying Fijian beating three defenders before sliding over the line for the score. Hastings added the extra two points, and the game was tied at 7-7.
With the game opening up, Glasgow were finding gaps in the Cheetahs defensive line. Sam Johnson’s break and kick almost set up Lee Jones to perfection, before George Horne sold half of Scotstoun a terrific dummy, only denied by the visitors’ scramble defence.
The Warrior Nation sensed a try was coming, and it arrived in some style on 20 minutes. A turnover in midfield saw the ball worked to Jackson on halfway, with the full-back sizing up his options before chipping the ball over the covering defence. Showing some impressive ball control to hack the ball on, Jackson regathered with one hand to score one of the individual tries of the season and delight the Scotstoun faithful. With the conversion missed, the Warriors led 12-7.
Rennie’s men were now on top, dominating possession and territory as they looked to extend their lead before the interval. They did just that on 34 minutes, with Hastings punishing the Cheetahs for transgressing at the ruck by making no mistake from 40 metres, taking the score to 15-7 in favour of the home side.
Marais narrowed the deficit with the final kick of the half, his successful penalty leaving the game finely poised at the interval.
The Cheetahs fly-half would also be the first to trouble the scorers in the second period, a penalty from the halfway line bringing the visitors back to within two points.
However, the Warriors would once again respond by upping the tempo. Hastings’ clever chip over the blitz defence was hacked on by first Matawalu, then Horne, with the Glasgow number nine only denied by Cheetahs’ scrum-half Shaun Venter’s concession of a five-metre scrum.
From there, the home side pounced. After recycling the ball and earning a penalty, the ball was eventually driven over the line by Siosiua Halanukonuka as the Tongan prop recorded his first try for the club. Hastings’ pushed the conversion wide, but Glasgow led 20-13 after 50 minutes.
Once again, though, it was the boot of Marais that kept the Cheetahs in touch. His third penalty of the night made it 20-16, as Glasgow found themselves on the wrong side of referee George Clancy at the scrum.
The Warriors would answer immediately. With the play becoming broken in midfield, Rennie’s side once again turned on the flair. Some nifty footwork from Matawalu and offloads from Hastings and Sam Johnson saw Horne find the perfect support line to cross over for the bonus-point try. Hastings made no mistake with the conversion, and Glasgow led 27-16.
Yet the Cheetahs once again showed their determination to stay in the game. A strong carry from captain Francois Venter set up field position, before the ball was spun wide to Clayton Blommetjies for the South African side’s second try of the night. Marais converted well from the touchline, and the gap was reduced to 27-23 with 15 minutes to play.
The home side were provided with some extra breathing space just moments later, however, with Hastings knocking over a simple penalty to extend his side’s lead to seven points.
Then, in a season filled with spectacular tries, came yet another Scotstoun special. Receiving the ball from the kick-off, the ball was worked wide to Grigg, who accelerated round his man and into open space. The Scotland centre drew the last man before passing to substitute Henry Pyrgos, who showed great footwork and pace to evade the covering defence and touch down. Another successful kick from Hastings took the score to 37-23 as the game entered the final 10 minutes.
In such a free-flowing game, it was perhaps surprising to the sold-out Scotstoun crowd that there would be no more scoring in the game’s closing stages. The Warrior Nation will be unlikely to care too much, as an impressive bonus-point win keeps their side in full control of Conference A, with a place in the end of season Final Series already secured.