Glasgow do enough against Dragons

Date published: November 30 2014

Glasgow Warriors toiled their way to a bland 19-15 triumph over the Dragons to get back to winning ways in Sunday’s Pro12 fixture.

Glasgow Warriors toiled their way to a bland 19-15 triumph over the Dragons to get back to winning ways in Sunday’s Pro12 fixture.

The Dragons, with just one win to their name this season, seized a rare away victory here in the corresponding fixture of 2013/14, and for much of the game threatened a repeat performance, avenging their 33-13 loss to the Warriors in Round Three.

Tactically, offensively, they matched their hosts, thwarting an error-strewn Glasgow side for whom matches like this one should be bonus-point fodder, and making line breaks aplenty.

Physically, however, the Dragons fell short. Having lost skipper Rynard Landman to an early injury, the home pack’s dominance yielded a penalty try and fourteen points for Duncan Weir, extending the Warriors’ unbeaten Scotstoun run to thirteen games.

It could hardly be described as plain sailing – playing without fear, the ease with which the visitors scythed through the Warriors midfield, capitalising on gaping holes and slack tackling, combined with the profligate Glasgow attack will have left Townsend irate.

So too the infringements and inaccuracies, exacerbated by the odd dubious call from Dudley Philips visibly enraged his players as they struggled to overcome crippling lethargy.

Visiting full-back Geraint Rhys Jones fired over the opening three points on six minutes as Chris Fusaro came in from the side, only to see his strike cancelled out when the Dragons committed the same offence right from the restart, Weir levelling.

The penalty pattern continued, Jones notching another from close range after the hosts strayed offside, before his teammates did likewise and allowed Weir to convert his second.

Jones made it three from three on the half-hour mark, and Glasgow continued to force play needlessly, the backline in particular sporting a lack of cohesion perhaps best – if meekly – attributed to the reinstatement of nine Test players to the matchday 23.

The pack, at least, were on top, the home scrum splintering their opponents at will, but even when Weir arrowed a tidy penalty punt into the corner, the Dragons infringed twice, and Richie Rees was sin-binned, the Warriors could not cross the line.

Trailing by three at the break, Glasgow needed a spark. Enter Niko Matawalu.
The Fijian adds brilliance and recklessness in equal measure, and this afternoon, Scotstoun, saw far more of the latter.

After a torrid first half marred by loose passes and dropped balls, Matawalu came within a whisker of the game’s first try, just failing to ground his own hack-through.

It was a rare high point for the scrum-half, who would be replaced by Henry Pyrgos midway through the second 40.

His close call produced a five-metre scrum for his team, however, and the home eight did their thing, twisting, squeezing, pulverising the Dragons in the shadow of the uprights, the set-piece crumbling and Phillips awarding the penalty try.

Weir converted, but Jones cut the gap to a point after another Warriors offside, and Rees returned to restore the visitors’ full compliment.

More forward grunt handed the stocky fly-half two more penalties, but Jones slotted his fifth to leave Scotstoun sweating out the final ten minutes.

His namesake and boss had rated his side’s chances of glory at ‘ten percent’ before the match, and will surely take heart from how close, in reality, the Dragons got to upsetting the odds.

Weathering plenty pressure as the Welshmen launched a last-ditch assault on their line, Glasgow just about did enough in the end, but this sort of drab display must be swiftly rectified ahead of next week’s return to European action.

The scorers:

For Glasgow:
Penalty Try
Con: Weir
Pens: Weir 4

For Dragons:
Pens: GR Jones 5
Yellow Card: Rees

Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Peter Horne, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Leone Nakarawa, 5 Al Kellock (c), 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Ryan Grant
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Josh Strauss, 20 Tyrone Holmes, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Connor Braid, 23 Richie Vernon

Dragons: 15 Geraint Rhys Jones, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Ross Wardle, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Matthew Pewtner, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Lewis Evans, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 James Thomas, 5 Rynard Landman (c), 4 Cory Hill, 3 Dan Way, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Brok Harris
Replacements: 16 T. Rhys Thomas, 17 Phil Price, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Andrew Coombs, 20 James Benjamin, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Hallam Amos

Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Lloyd Linton (Scotland), Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)

by Jamie Lyall