Calvin Howarth Masterly In Glasgow Victory

Glasgow 40, Llanelli Scarlets 29Glasgow had a four-try bonus point in the bag before the interval in their Celtic League match against Llanelli Scarlets at Hughenden tonight. The first-half performance on a crisp, clear evening was a joy to watch, and their final score was their best in the Celtic League since that famous 48-20 win against the Dragons in early March this year.Calvin Howarth was in masterly form, not just with a 100% goal-kicking record with four conversions and a like number of penalties. His control of the game from hand was even more impressive than it had been in the win against The Borders two weeks ago. The swiftness and length of his passes created space that all of the back five enjoyed.He had a try as well for 25 points in the match, only one short of the league record for Glasgow that he set in that match against the Borders. Adding in his 14 against Cardiff last week, he has scored 65 in three successive league games. Deservedly, he was tonight's man of the match.But by the end Glasgow were hanging on, though not to salvage victory. They had to snap into a fearsome defensive game simply to maintain respectability in a margin that had once looked like being superb.For the last 24 minutes they were short-handed after Euan Murray had been sent off for stamping. For the final couple of minutes they were down to 13 after Fergus Thomson had been sin-binned for joining a ruck from the side.Victory was all the sweeter in that it was won against the defending league champions, albeit that the Scarlets are currently languishing in an unaccustomed role low in the table, heading only Edinburgh and The Borders. To win was, too, a statement Glasgow had to make ahead of their two Heineken Cup matches against Llanelli early next month, though by then, of course, each of the teams will have a different shape with the return of international players from the autumn Tests.Yet it will be Glasgow's first-half game that lives in the memory. They struck early with two Howarth goals in the first five minutes, both penalties for offside, and between those scores Gareth Maclure sliced through into the Llanelli 22 before he was cut down.Llanelli hit back at the first opportunity, though they ought to have been penalised yet again for offside. Instead, in the follow-up Howarth was penalised for a high tackle, and from Llanelli's continuity Barry Davies eventually swept in for a try. Gareth Bowen converted, and the Scarlets led 7-6 after 11 minutes.But Glasgow responded with a try that will surely rank among the scores of the season for all the factors that made it. The try's origin was in John Beattie's steal at the tail of a penalty lineout. Howarth exploited it with a long, flat pass to fire Maclure, Andy Craig linked, and Graeme Beveridge finished off.Howarth converted and then added a penalty goal in 19 minutes. A Bowen penalty goal cut the lead back to 16-10 after 28 minutes, but Glasgow made sure of the bonus point with three tries in the 10 minutes before the interval while Llanelli were depleted with Jonathan Mills in the sin-bin.Murray, Kevin Tkachuk, Andy Hall, and Beattie all contributed to willing continuity before Howarth sent Kenny Logan in. A Colin Shaw break kept up the pressure before another Beattie lineout gain sparked the assault in which Craig and Beveridge set up the position for Howarth to slice through and dummy to the flank before cutting in towards the posts for his try.Both Glasgow props had a say in the prelude to the bonus-point try. Tkachuk ran back a Llanelli kick, and Murray kept the momentum going up the left before Craig chipped ahead. Dan Turner had a dunt at the line before Logan dived in at the left corner with his second try of the evening. Even that was not too far out for Howarth to kick his fourth conversion for 37-10 at half-time.Howarth added his fourth penalty goal four minutes into the second half, but soon afterwards a Glasgow lapse allowed Salesi Finau to run almost half the length of the pitch for a try, Bowen converting. The pattern had changed. The crowd, instead of cheering Glasgow's positive rugby, turned to jeering the referee, David Keane. To phrase it politely, the Irishman called some strange decisions, not least when Mike Phillips ran in for a try after blatant obstruction in the lead-up.Murray's dismissal meant that, with Andrew Kelly injured, scrums had to be uncontested, and his absence could have been the last straw. Instead, however, Glasgow dug deeper into their reserves. Their fitness was tested and not found wanting until the numbers were further reduced with Thomson's sin-binning for joining from the side, an offence that had been commonplace all evening, though rarely penalised.Only then could Llanelli snatch their bonus-point try, when Evans dived in at the left corner. Bowen failed to convert, the only goal missed by either side's kicker.Glasgow - Colin Shaw; Rory Kerr, Andy Craig, Gareth Maclure, Kenny Logan (captain); Calvin Howarth, Graeme Beveridge; Kevin Tkachuk, Scott Lawson, Euan Murray, Andy Hall, Dan Turner, Cammy Mather, John Beattie, Andrew Wilson. Substitutes - Andrew Kelly for Murray (49-60 minutes), Colin Gregor for Howarth (59), Sam Pinder for Beveridge (58), Fergus Thomson for Hall (66). Replacements not used - Jonathan van der Schyff, John Barclay, David Millard.Tries, Logan (2), Beveridge, Howarth; conversions, Howarth (4); penalty goals, Howarth (4) Llanelli Scarlets - Barry Davies; Garan Evans, Matthew J Watkins, Tal Selley, Aisea Havili; Gareth Bowen, Mike Phillips; Phil John, Matthew Rees, John Davies, Adam Jones, Vernon Cooper (captain), Jonathan Mills, David Hodges, Gavin Thomas. Substitutes - Salesi Finau for Barry Davies (half-time), Aled Gravelle for Rees (half-time), Andy Powell for Hodges (half-time), David Maddocks for John Davies (51), Bryn Griffiths for Jones (59), Chris McDonald for Powell (76). Replacement not used - Aled Thomas.Tries, Barry Davies, Finau, Phillips, Evans; conversions, Bowen (3); penalty goal, Bowen. Referee - David Keane (Ireland).Attendance - 1751.Glasgow 40, Llanelli Scarlets 29Glasgow had a four-try bonus point in the bag before the interval in their Celtic League match against Llanelli Scarlets at Hughenden tonight. The first-half performance on a crisp, clear evening was a joy to watch, and their final score was their best in the Celtic League since that famous 48-20 win against the Dragons in early March this year.Calvin Howarth was in masterly form, not just with a 100% goal-kicking record with four conversions and a like number of penalties. His control of the game from hand was even more impressive than it had been in the win against The Borders two weeks ago. The swiftness and length of his passes created space that all of the back five enjoyed.He had a try as well for 25 points in the match, only one short of the league record for Glasgow that he set in that match against the Borders. Adding in his 14 against Cardiff last week, he has scored 65 in three successive league games. Deservedly, he was tonight's man of the match.But by the end Glasgow were hanging on, though not to salvage victory. They had to snap into a fearsome defensive game simply to maintain respectability in a margin that had once looked like being superb.For the last 24 minutes they were short-handed after Euan Murray had been sent off for stamping. For the final couple of minutes they were down to 13 after Fergus Thomson had been sin-binned for joining a ruck from the side.Victory was all the sweeter in that it was won against the defending league champions, albeit that the Scarlets are currently languishing in an unaccustomed role low in the table, heading only Edinburgh and The Borders. To win was, too, a statement Glasgow had to make ahead of their two Heineken Cup matches against Llanelli early next month, though by then, of course, each of the teams will have a different shape with the return of international players from the autumn Tests.Yet it will be Glasgow's first-half game that lives in the memory. They struck early with two Howarth goals in the first five minutes, both penalties for offside, and between those scores Gareth Maclure sliced through into the Llanelli 22 before he was cut down.Llanelli hit back at the first opportunity, though they ought to have been penalised yet again for offside. Instead, in the follow-up Howarth was penalised for a high tackle, and from Llanelli's continuity Barry Davies eventually swept in for a try. Gareth Bowen converted, and the Scarlets led 7-6 after 11 minutes.But Glasgow responded with a try that will surely rank among the scores of the season for all the factors that made it. The try's origin was in John Beattie's steal at the tail of a penalty lineout. Howarth exploited it with a long, flat pass to fire Maclure, Andy Craig linked, and Graeme Beveridge finished off.Howarth converted and then added a penalty goal in 19 minutes. A Bowen penalty goal cut the lead back to 16-10 after 28 minutes, but Glasgow made sure of the bonus point with three tries in the 10 minutes before the interval while Llanelli were depleted with Jonathan Mills in the sin-bin.Murray, Kevin Tkachuk, Andy Hall, and Beattie all contributed to willing continuity before Howarth sent Kenny Logan in. A Colin Shaw break kept up the pressure before another Beattie lineout gain sparked the assault in which Craig and Beveridge set up the position for Howarth to slice through and dummy to the flank before cutting in towards the posts for his try.Both Glasgow props had a say in the prelude to the bonus-point try. Tkachuk ran back a Llanelli kick, and Murray kept the momentum going up the left before Craig chipped ahead. Dan Turner had a dunt at the line before Logan dived in at the left corner with his second try of the evening. Even that was not too far out for Howarth to kick his fourth conversion for 37-10 at half-time.Howarth added his fourth penalty goal four minutes into the second half, but soon afterwards a Glasgow lapse allowed Salesi Finau to run almost half the length of the pitch for a try, Bowen converting. The pattern had changed. The crowd, instead of cheering Glasgow's positive rugby, turned to jeering the referee, David Keane. To phrase it politely, the Irishman called some strange decisions, not least when Mike Phillips ran in for a try after blatant obstruction in the lead-up.Murray's dismissal meant that, with Andrew Kelly injured, scrums had to be uncontested, and his absence could have been the last straw. Instead, however, Glasgow dug deeper into their reserves. Their fitness was tested and not found wanting until the numbers were further reduced with Thomson's sin-binning for joining from the side, an offence that had been commonplace all evening, though rarely penalised.Only then could Llanelli snatch their bonus-point try, when Evans dived in at the left corner. Bowen failed to convert, the only goal missed by either side's kicker.Glasgow - Colin Shaw; Rory Kerr, Andy Craig, Gareth Maclure, Kenny Logan (captain); Calvin Howarth, Graeme Beveridge; Kevin Tkachuk, Scott Lawson, Euan Murray, Andy Hall, Dan Turner, Cammy Mather, John Beattie, Andrew Wilson. Substitutes - Andrew Kelly for Murray (49-60 minutes), Colin Gregor for Howarth (59), Sam Pinder for Beveridge (58), Fergus Thomson for Hall (66). Replacements not used - Jonathan van der Schyff, John Barclay, David Millard.Tries, Logan (2), Beveridge, Howarth; conversions, Howarth (4); penalty goals, Howarth (4) Llanelli Scarlets - Barry Davies; Garan Evans, Matthew J Watkins, Tal Selley, Aisea Havili; Gareth Bowen, Mike Phillips; Phil John, Matthew Rees, John Davies, Adam Jones, Vernon Cooper (captain), Jonathan Mills, David Hodges, Gavin Thomas. Substitutes - Salesi Finau for Barry Davies (half-time), Aled Gravelle for Rees (half-time), Andy Powell for Hodges (half-time), David Maddocks for John Davies (51), Bryn Griffiths for Jones (59), Chris McDonald for Powell (76). Replacement not used - Aled Thomas.Tries, Barry Davies, Finau, Phillips, Evans; conversions, Bowen (3); penalty goal, Bowen. Referee - David Keane (Ireland).Attendance - 1751.