The Glasgow Warriors scored five tries to beat the Cheetahs 37-23 at Scotstoun Stadium on Friday night. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The hosts were missing 11 first-choice players on Six Nations duty with Scotland, but were still able to put the Cheetahs away in the final quarter.
As was the case in the previous fixture between these sides, which the Warriors won 29-26 in Bloemfontein, the Cheetahs were in touch with their opponents for most of the contest but couldn’t maintain that effort for the full 80 minutes.
Played in cold conditions with rain falling at times, the Warriors showed wonderful composure in the big moments and variation on attack, whereas the Cheetahs were guilty of employing an expansive approach with not so much as a kicking strategy in sight. The visitors were solid in the scrums and lineouts, but outplayed and outsmarted at the breakdown.
Both sides played tentatively early on. But it would be the Cheetahs who scored first when Clayton Blommetjies broke the line and released speedster Malcolm Jaer for a converted try.
Conceding first seemed to awaken the Warriors, who responded with 15 unanswered points for a lead they failed to relinquish.
Glasgow went on the attack from the restart and wing Niko Matawalu ran a beautiful line at pace to score. The conversion levelled matters.
That was followed by a try from Ruaridh Jackson, who displayed good awareness when he hacked the ball forward twice and recollected possession before diving over. That conversion was unsuccessful, but a subsequent penalty goal made it 15-7.
On the stroke of half-time, Marais split the uprights to close the gap to five points.
Both teams’ defensive fortitude went missing in the second half, but Glasgow outscored the Cheetahs because the visitors were wasteful in their own half.
Marais added three penalties early in the half, but in-between those, Glasgow crossed for two tries, scored by tighthead prop Siua Halanukonuka and scrumhalf George Horne.
Trailing 27-16, the Cheetahs again clawed their way back into the contest with a well-structured attack through the middle, which created space out wide for Blommetjies to exploit and scuttle in for an easy try.
But what followed, typified the Cheetahs’ passiveness in defence. They conceded 10 points within 60 seconds. First, the Warriors landed a penalty and then, from the restart, centre Neil Brigg broke out from deep and Henry Pyrgos finished off next to the posts.
The Cheetahs’ disappointing night concluded with the sending off of captain Francois Venter for foul play.
Glasgow Warriors – Tries: Niko Matawalu, Ruaridh Jackson, Siua Halanukonuka, George Horne, Henry Pyrgos. Conversions: Adam Hastings (2), Pyrgos. Penalties: Hastings (2).
Cheetahs – Tries: Malcolm Jaer, Clayton Blommetjies. Conversions: Niel Marais (2). Penalties: Marais (3).
Glasgow Warriors – 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Niko Matawalu, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 George Horne, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Siua Halanukonuka, 2 James Malcolm, 1 Alex Allan.
Subs: 16 Grant Stewart, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Matt Smith, 20 Adam Ashe, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Ratu Tagive.
Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Craig Barry, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 Nico Lee, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Henco Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Torsten Van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Jacques Du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Johan.