Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh Rugby
Glasgow Warriors booked a home semi-final in the Guinness PRO14 in scintillating fashion this evening, as Dave Rennie’s side cut loose in a 34-10 win over Edinburgh Rugby.
In front of 10,000 supporters at Scotstoun, the home side ran in four tries to secure a bonus-point victory to secure their place atop Conference A to set up a last four clash with either Ulster or Connacht on Friday 17 May.
Straight from the kick-off, Glasgow showed their intent to get the job done. Immediate defensive pressure forced the visitors to concede a lineout, before infringing at the set-piece to provide Adam Hastings with an early opportunity for points. The fly-half made no mistake, handing his side a 3-0 lead after two minutes.
The home side was just getting started. In their final regular season home game, the Warriors struck with a late contender for try of the season. Sharp interplay between Hastings and Stuart Hogg on halfway freed Niko Matawalu, whose offload sent Sam Johnson scampering away down the touchline. The Scotland centre produced a sumptuous left-foot sidestep to leave the covering Henry Pyrgos for dead, racing under the posts to leave Hastings with a simple conversion for a 10-0 lead.
Simon Hickey got Edinburgh on the board on 12 minutes as the New Zealand fly-half kicked his first points of the night with a penalty, yet seven minutes later the capital outfit found themselves under their own crossbar once more after another superb Glasgow score. With Edinburgh struggling to break the defensive line, turnover ball saw Ryan Wilson spin the ball to Hogg. The full-back’s pace, footwork and eye for a gap saw him blast into open space, before feeding Ali Price for a 30-metre run-in. Hastings converted, and the crowd was in full voice.
Scotstoun was rocking as the game approached the half-hour mark, every Glasgow tackle and line break being roared on by a capacity crowd. Hastings kept the scoreboard ticking over, as his second penalty took his side to a 20-3 lead.
A near-perfect first-half for the home side concluded with one last defensive set, as Hastings ripped the ball out of the hands of an opponent 15 metres from his own try-line, Price’s kick into touch ending the half to a cacophony of cheers from the Warrior Nation.
Knowing they needed to score next to maintain any hopes of reaching the Heineken Champions Cup play-off, it was Edinburgh that came out of the dressing rooms on the front foot. Yet their attempts to breach the Glasgow defensive line were repelled time and again, with the Warriors pack to the fore before Duhan van der Merwe was bundled into touch by the covering defence.
Having shown their defensive resilience, Glasgow then reminded their visitors of their attacking prowess as the game approached the hour mark. A rampaging burst from Matt Fagerson took the Warriors into opposition territory, before Scott Cummings hit a terrific line to punch his way into the 22. When the ball was recycled, Hastings floated a pass over the top to Matawalu and the Fijian did the rest, bouncing off a tackle and touching down with aplomb. After a lengthy delay following an injury to Pyrgos, Hastings added the conversion from out wide to extend his side’s advantage to 27-3.
The hosts were in pursuit of a try bonus-point as the clock ticked on, with Cummings cutting through and feeding George Horne before Hogg found himself run out of contention as he chased a kick ahead.
On a night of spectacular tries, though, the bonus-point score topped them all. George Horne’s dummy inside his own 22 opened up a gap, through which the replacement scrum-half accelerated into open field. Faced with the Edinburgh covering defence, Horne put boot to ball for Hogg to chase. The full-back gathered superbly, before spinning a wonderful pass to Seymour out wide for the coup de grace. Another conversion from the deadeye boot of Hastings added some more gloss to a memorable score, and took the score-line to 34-3 with four minutes to play.
The visitors finally found a way over the whitewash on 78 minutes. Charlie Shiel showed impressive footwork and pace to take him in behind the Warriors defence before passing to the supporting van der Merwe for the finishing touch, Hickey converting well from the touchline.
Yet this was Glasgow’s night, as a bonus-point win in front of a sold-out Scotstoun secured a home semi-final in style. Whilst victory means that one job is done for Rennie’s men, however, the pursuit of a place in the Guinness PRO14 Final at Celtic Park continues.