Glasgow Warriors 33-24 Cardiff Blues

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A brave performance saw a much changed Cardiff Blues side push Glasgow Warriors all the way and claim a try bonus point in the Heineken Champions Cup at Scotstoun.

With hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages ending last month, John Mulvihill opted to leave the likes of Josh Turnbull, Olly Robinson, Gareth Anscombe and Rey Lee-Lo at home, while Kris Dacey and Blaine Scully picked up injuries in the game against the Ospreys.

In their places there was opportunity for Rory Thornton, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Steve Shingler and Harri Millard to play from the start, while Matthew Rees and Tom James both returned to playing action after spells out of the game.

Tom James Dragons
Tom James returned to action after over a year

Glasgow, on the other hand, were still in with a shot of making the quarter-finals and needed a bonus point win to help secure a best runner-up spot, so with that in mind, and Cardiff Blues arriving to score tries, the game panned out in an interesting manner.

Neither side had arrived at Scotstoun to opt for penalty kicks, creating an open game, however a vicious wind blowing into the visitors faces in the first half added an extra dimension to affairs.

Cardiff Blues, despite the wind, had plenty of the game in the opening 20 minutes though and worked opportunities to get the first try of match, but inaccuracies at the breakdown and the maul saw chances slip away, as did some unforced handling errors.

Fortunately the defence was holding up well, forcing midfield turnovers as well as relying on the individual effort of a Lloyd Williams tackle, a Josh Navidi turnover and a Rory Thornton lineout steal.

The main problem for Cardiff Blues in the wind was exiting though, with kicks not getting any distance on them and offering no relief. As a result we were going through a lot of phases inside our own 22 and eventually that caught us up as the referee penalised us for holding on.

Glasgow went for the corner and set up the driving maul with hooker Grant Stewart the beneficiary at the back of the drive, Brandon Thomson converting well from out wide.

willis halaholo glasgow
Grant Stewart opened the try scoring

Straight from the restart it seemed the hosts might extend their lead as Tommy Seymour broke a tackle and sprinted clear, but an excellent scramble defence from Cardiff Blues brought the supporting Tim Swinson down short of the line and eventually held up the opposition over the line.

Unfortunately the inevitable came just a few minutes later though when Ali Price sniped from the back of a breakdown and was able to put Scott Cummings through a hole in our defence. The second row went under the posts and a second conversion made the score 14-0 after 33 minutes.

Once again there was almost an immediate score from the hosts, after a mix up between Dan Fish and Steve Shingler, but Nick Grigg’s hack through just rolled dead before he could catch up.

That let-off saw play brought back from a Cardiff Blues scrum just inside our own half, and from there we got back into the game.

Harri Millard made good yards on the first phase, before the ball was recycled back to the right wing where Dan Fish and Owen Lane combined to send the latter over in the corner.

owen lane glasgow
Owen Lane was back amongst the try scorers

Shingler missed the conversion but the score stayed 14-5 through to half-time and, with what was described as a 14-point wind soon to be at our backs, Cardiff Blues were more than in the game at the break.

At least that was until a re-grouped Glasgow Warriors came out firing at the beginning of the second half, with one dangerous attack ended by an overthrown lineout but the penalty count was going in their favour as they maintained good field positions.

The breakthrough came after nearly 10 minutes, after Dillon Lewis was harshly penalised on the floor, with a driving maul once again the method of scoring. This time it was Chris Fusaro in possession as the drive got over the line with the help of Glasgow’s backs joining the push.

Cardiff Blues attempted to hit straight back as a well worked move put Harri Millard and Owen Lane on the outside in a two-on-one, but Stuart Hogg intercepted the final pass brilliantly and cleared the danger.

However, that was only a brief respite for Glasgow as Rhys Carre made good yards on a crash ball line. The front foot ball was moved quickly and eventually the same duo ended up with another two-on-one, this time with the roles reversed, as Lane put Millard over in the corner for an excellent try.

harri millard glasgow
Harri Millard bagged himself a try

It seemed like Cardiff Blues may get back into the game at this point, but a fluffed restart allowed the hosts to secure possession inside our 22, and a minute later prop Oli Kebble was crashing over the line.

That secured Glasgow’s bonus point and made the score 28-10, seemingly ending the game as a contest, but credit to John Mulvihill’s men who continued plugging away, especially when Tomos Williams and Jarrod Evans teamed up at half-back.

The pace of our attack was superb, a huge step up from the previous few weeks of slow and telegraphed attacking play, and eventually Harri Millard got a yard to show off his pace, beat two men and put Josh Navidi over in the corner.

Then, with just under 10 minutes to go, a well worked first phase play off the back of an attacking scrum saw Jarrod slide a perfect inside ball for Owen Lane to grab a second try, appearing from the blindside to go under the posts.

Cardiff Blues had a try bonus point of their own and the scoreline showed us trailing by just four points as the Scottish rain began to fall, but Glasgow were not about to let their Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final dreams be dashed on their own patch.

They dominated possession and territory throughout the final part of the game and replacement scrum-half George Horne was able to go over off the back of a scrum after shaking off a tackle, denying the visitors a losing bonus point and wrapping up the game for Dave Rennie’s side.

Despite that it was still a very successful outing for a much changed Cardiff Blues side though, with plenty of impressive individual performances and what should be a huge boost for our attacking confidence going into an important period.

Next week sees the pool stages draw to a close against Lyon at the Arms Park, and John Mulvihill will likely welcome back some familiar faces to end this campaign on a high and secure momentum before a massive home game in the Pro14 against Connacht the following week.

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