Glasgow Warriors produced a performance bristling with intent, accuracy and ambition to sweep aside reigning RaboDirect PRO12 champions Ospreys on their own patch on Friday night.
Glasgow’s second straight victory at the Liberty Stadium was their first of the new campaign, and made good on head coach Gregor Townsend’s pre-match vow that they would tie together the positive parts of their first two tournament games and deliver a rounded, winning display.
There were two tries from the outstanding DTH van der Merwe, a feat that saw him named RaboDirect Man of the Match by the BBC Wales commentary team.
Sandwiched between the Canadian’s touchdowns was a cheeky score from Chris Fusaro. The flanker, who had another towering game, seems to like playing Welsh teams – his first two Warriors tries came in the same game, against Cardiff Blues back in March.
In attack, Glasgow showed patience and penetration, while defensively they were typically sound.
This result propels them into back-to-back Scotstoun dates with Connacht and Zebre in fine heart, and gives Townsend his first win at the helm.
The head coach told www.glasgowwarriors.org: “We’ve said repeatedly in the wake of the Ulster and Scarlets matches that we weren’t far away from delivering the sort of performances and results that the whole club rightly expect.
“As a group, we knew the win was coming, and there is certainly more to come from this team as well.
“Their effort and togetherness tonight were outstanding, not to mention the quality and composure we showed at key junctures.
“We’ve now got Connacht and Zebre at home. Those will be massively tough tests in their own right, but we want to establish Scotstoun as a fortress and give our supporters plenty to shout about.
“We’re looking forward to seeing and hearing them out in force come Friday night, and will be working as hard as we possibly can to give them another win.”
With Ryan Wilson and his partner celebrating the birth of their daughter Ava, there was a change to the Warriors back-row. James Eddie started at blindside flanker, with John Barclay moving to No.8.
Elite Development back-rower Adam Ashe came onto the bench, and, like fellow young gun George Hunter, made his competitive Warriors debut late on.
The winger was still in his own 22 when he fielded a cross-kick from Ospreys stand-off Dan Biggar, but having take a clean catch, set off on a brilliantly opportunistic run that took him over the whitewash at the other end for a quite sensational score.
Weir couldn't quite land the touchline conversion, and was similarly awry with a long-range penalty moments later, but Warriors were encouraged by their opening to the match.
The visitors suffered a set-back in the 13th minute, scrum-half Chris Cusiter being forced from the fray with a shoulder injury and being replaced by Henry Pyrgos.
The replacement took the field seconds before Weir stroked over a straightforward penalty awarded for Ospreys failing to retreat 10 metres as Cusiter took a sniping tap.
Glasgow were playing with fluidity in attack, where Peter Horne, Tommy Seymour and van der Merwe were continually to the fore.
These encouraging signs were replicated at the set-piece, Mike Cusack anchoring the Warriors scrum with typical efficiency and winning a morale-boosting couple of penalties as the first quarter drifted into the second.
There was plenty to admire in Glasgow's work at the lineout, too, where Al Kellock and Eddie were models of consistency. With solid first phase ball, the Warriors had the platform to launch the likes of Alex Dunbar through the middle, and there was a real threat about their play as the half wore on.
For all their precision, the Scots' second try on the half-hour mark was actually quite a scrappy, if still thoroughly pleasing affair. Ospreys got themselves into a complete fankle trying to tend possession on the fringes of their own line, and the ever alert Fusaro nipped in to pick up the ball and dot down.
Weir landed a challenging conversion to give the Warriors a 15-0 lead.
Predictably, Ospreys came out all guns blazing as they sought to turn round the deficit, but it was Glasgow who struck an early blow when Weir slotted over another penalty in the 46th minute. Scrum-half Rhys Webb was yellow carded for his part in the incident that led to the award, reducing Ospreys to 14 men.
The numbers were soon evened up when Eddie followed Webb to the sin bin as Ospreys got the drive on at a lineout and the blindside infringed.
The hosts kept up the pressure, and lock Ian Evans finally found a hole out wide to cross in the corner, despite Warriors' protests that there had been a knock-on in the lead-up. Biggar notched the conversion to trim the Glasgow lead to 18-7.
It was vital that Townsend's troops reacted decisively to this set-back, and they did just that in tremendous fashion.
After a period of patient probing across the face of the Ospreys defence, that man van der Merwe hunched his shoulders and went for the line, withstanding almost impossible pressure from a host of black-clad bodies to cross. When the score was endorsed by the TMO, Weir slotted the conversion to put Glasgow 25-7 ahead.
Ospreys came straight back, Biggar landing a penalty to keep the hosts in touch as the game entered the final quarter.
Glasgow held their nerve, though, substitute Jackson knocking over a penalty to seal the deal late on.
Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell; 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Tom Grabham; 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb; 1 Duncan Jones , 2 Richard Hibbard, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 4 Ian Gough, 5 Ian Evans, 6 George Stowers, 7 Justin Tipuric (CAPTAIN), 8 Joe Bearman
Substitutes: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Joe Rees, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Kahn Fotuali’i, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Andrew Bishop
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Peter Murchie; 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Peter Horne, 11 DTH van der Merwe; 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Chris Cusiter; 1 Ryan Grant, 2 Dougie Hall, 3 Mike Cusack, 4 Tom Ryder, 5 Al Kellock (CAPTAIN), 6 James Eddie, 7 Chris Fusaro, 8 John Barclay
Substitutes: 16 Finlay Gillies, 17 George Hunter, 18 Gordon Reid, 19 Adam Ashe, 20 Angus Macdonald, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Sean Lamont
Referee: L Colgan (IRFU)
|5||Neath Swansea Ospreys||22||14||7||1||62|
|11||Newport Gwent Dragons||22||6||16||0||28|
|12||Zebre Rugby *||22||0||22||0||7|
* A points deduction has been applied.
|Ulster Rugby||37||v||13||Cardiff Blues|
|Connacht Rugby||3||v||20||Glasgow Warriors|
|Edinburgh Rugby||31||v||24||Newport Gwent Dragons|
|Leinster Rugby||37||v||19||Neath Swansea Ospreys|
|Llanelli Scarlets||17||v||41||Benetton Treviso|