The Glasgow Warriors scored five tries to claim a 35-17 bonus-point win against the Cheetahs in Glasgow on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The result sees the Warriors maintain their perfect record against the Cheetahs, who are now out of playoff contention.
Glasgow welcomed back captain Callum Gibbins from an injury layoff, but were by no means at full strength for this clash as coach Dave Rennie opted to rest his Test players, who returned from Six Nations duty with Scotland.
But their B team was more than up to the task against a Cheetahs side that fought valiantly but was just not skilled enough. The hosts outscored the men from Bloemfontein by five tries to three.
From an individual perspective, William Small-Smith was the best Cheetahs player on the field. The wing, who recently signed a contract extension with the Free State Rugby Union, bagged a brace. But the Warriors’ centre pairing of South African Kyle Steyn and Stafford McDowall wreaked havoc, scoring a try each.
In an encouraging start to the game, the Cheetahs patiently took the ball through a 12-phase attack, but the Warriors were seemingly happy to build a defensive wall to keep them out. That forced an error from the Cheetahs and Glasgow turned over possession. They worked their way down the opposite side of the field and when the Cheetahs infringed, the Warriors set a lineout from which Gibbins scored.
The Cheetahs hit back with a brilliantly orchestrated move in the 15th minute. They accurately recycled the ball to enter the 22 before Small-Smith sprinted onto a perfectly-weighted, over-the-top pass from Benhard Janse van Rensburg and sat down Ruaridh Jackson with a lethal handoff to score in the corner.
But the Cheetahs lost the collision battle as they struggled to deal with the Warriors’ ruck speed. This led the visitors to concede two further, almost identical tries. The Warriors forwards bashed the Cheetahs up front, setting up a series of pick and goes followed by a strong leg-drive run by Steyn for the try. Wing Rory Hughes then benefitted from the forwards’ power plays.
The Cheetahs were dealt another blow when the referee lost patience with their illegal scrumming and send prop Charles Marais to the sin bin for 10 minutes.
Despite four more tries being scored after the break, the second half was a dreary affair in comparison to the first.
When hooker Joseph Dweba accelerated through a tackle and burst through a gaping hole in full flight to score soon after the restart, the Cheetahs looked to be in with a fighting chance, but the Warriors then struck a double blow to lead 35-12.
Small-Smith deservedly completed his brace in the last minutes of the match, but by then the resulted had been determined.
Glasgow Warriors – Tries: Callum Gibbins, Kyle Steyn, Rory Hughes, Stafford McDowall, Scott Cummings. Conversions: Pete Horne (3), Adam Hastings (2).
Cheetahs – Tries: William Small-Smith (2), Joseph Dweba. Conversion: Tian Schoeman.
Glasgow Warriors – 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Niko Matawalu, 13 Kyle Steyn, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Pete Horne, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Callum Gibbins (c), 6 Scott Cummings, 5 Rob Harley, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Oli Kebble.
Subs: 16 Grant Stewart, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Siua Halanukonuka, 19 Bruce Flockhart, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Adam Hastings, 22 Paddy Kelly, 23 Robbie Nairn.
Cheetahs – 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 Henco Venter, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Joseph Dweba 17 Reinach Venter, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Justin Basson, 20 JP du Preez, 21 Gerhard Olivier, 22 Shaun Venter, 23 Louis Fouché.