ROUND-UP | Tale of two cities for pro teams on the road

Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby enjoyed contrasting fortunes in the opening round of the Guinness PRO12 on Saturday as the men from the west cruised to a six-try demolition of champions Connacht in Galway (41-5), while the men in black and red suffered at the hands of the Cardiff in the Welsh capial (34-16).

Connacht 5-41 Glasgow Warriors

It was Warriors’ third consecutive competitive game at the Sportsground and they came out on top 41-5, scoring six tries to one.

It didn’t take long for the match to find it’s tempo and it felt like competitive rugby had never been away as both sides showed exciting attacking intent from the off.

The Champions attacked from deep, keeping the ball in hand and using width to cause the Warriors early problems.

However, Glasgow had similar ideas and after ten minutes they were ahead. An early attack brought them to Connacht’s 22 and Peter Horne and Stuart Hogg showed composure to put the ball through the hands and release Tommy Seymour on the left hand touchline who finished.

The exposed stadium on the Irish west coast is famed for it’s difficult conditions and today was no different with the wind making kicking a challenge, but Henry Pyrgos overcame that to extend the lead with a penalty from in front of the posts.

Lewis Wynne made his Guinness PRO12 debut earlier than expected as a blood replacement for Ryan Wilson and his first involvement of top level rugby was to help Jonny Gray disrupt a Connacht line-out.

Wilson returned after being patched up but was off again shortly after, this time after being shown yellow for a late hit on Jack Carty.

The home side quickly made the man advantage count as Niyi Adeolokum finished off some nice handling to dive over in the corner just after the half hour mark.

Just as it looked like momentum was swinging the way of the Irish province, Seymour had his second. Patient build-up play created space and the Scotland international stepped, dived and rolled through Connacht's defence meaning that the Warriors went in to the break leading 13-5.

Despite a strong wind blowing in their face at the start of the second-half Glasgow were on the scoreboard again almost immediately.

A move straight off the training ground was executed to perfection and it was Stuart Hogg who showed strength and pace to exploit a gap to get in on the scoring.

On 50 minutes Gregor Townsend replaced the entire front-row meaning Corey Flynn made his competitive debut and Ryan Grant reached 100 caps in the PRO12.

From then on it was all Glasgow. Sam Johnson, Leonardo Sarto, Seymour and Hogg exploited gaps in the Connacht defence using nice offloading to bring an attack to the hosts' line, leaving it to Tim Swinson to dot the ball down from one metre out to secure the bonus point.

Try number five came once again as a result of electric running from Glasgow’s energised back-line. This time it was prop Sila Puafisi who finished from close range after Hogg was brought down one metre short.

Hogg was replaced by Sean Lamont who became the latest Warriors’ centurion and it wasn’t long before he celebrated the occasion with a try, crossing from close range to complete the scoring in the process, condemning last season’s semi-final defeat a distant memory.

Cardiff Blues 34-16 Edinburgh Rugby

Edinburgh Rugby were unable to build on a positive first-half performance as they suffered a 34-16 defeat at the hands of an impressive Cardiff Blues outfit in the opening fixture of the 2016/17 Guinness PRO12 season.

Solomons side trailed by only four points at the break, yet a clinical second-half display from the home-side saw them open up a deficit which Edinburgh were unable to close on a wet and windy night in the Welsh capital. 

Duncan Weir, who made his move to the club in the summer, scored 11 points from the tee while centre Junior Rasolea, also making his first competitive appearance in the black and red, dotted down for Edinburgh’s try. 

Head Coach Alan Solomons said: “The big thing in this game was they [Cardiff Blues] dominated territory and possession, and you can’t play if you don’t have the ball.

“In the first-half we kicked away too much ball and they dominated aerially all night, which resulted in balls being turned over, and in the second-half we paid the price for our errors.

“We know we’ve got to pick it up, but it’s very early in the season. We’ve now got to look at the areas we need to improve – the likes of aerial skills and counter-attacking – and I’ve got no doubt the team will be much better next week having had this game”. 

Weir put Edinburgh on the board first with a penalty goal in the second minute.

Blues gave a quick-fire response when Weir’s opposite number, Steve Shingler, who proved pivotal to the home side’s success with a personal tally of 15 points, sidled through a gap in the defence to cruise in under the posts, before duly adding the extras from the tee (7-3).

 Following a period of persistent pressure on the Cardiff line, Rasolea responded in the 15th minute when he hit a short line of the ruck to cross the whitewash untouched. 

Weir chipped over the conversion to put Edinburgh 10-7 ahead, before stretching the lead further with a monstrous strike from over 50 metres to open up a six-point gap as the game entered the second quarter.

Shingler closed the gap to three-points with a penalty on the half-hour mark, before his side regained the lead as referee John Lacey awarded the home side with a penalty try for a maul infringement, to which Jamie Ritchie was named as the culprit and shown a yellow card.

Shingler’s conversion gave the home side a 17-13 lead as the break approached.

Weir had two difficult, long-range penalty attempts prior the interval, yet both brushed by the uprights. 

Weir and Shingler exchanged penalties in the opening five minutes of the half, before Stuart McInally and Ben Toolis entered the fray for Ross Ford and Fraser McKenzie (20-16).

As the gale and the accompanying rain picked up, Cardiff mounted a late surge in the closing quarter with back-row Nick Williams crossing on 60 minutes, before scrum-half Tomos Williams followed suit 10 minutes later as he sniped around the fringes to scoot over the whitewash from close range.

 Replacement Gareth Anscombe converted both scores, with his conversion of Williams’ try proving the last scoring act of the game.