RaboDirect Pro12: Glasgow Warriors move back into top four
RaboDirect Pro12: Glasgow Warriors move back into the top four after beating Treviso
Glasgow Warriors moved back into the top four of the RaboDirect Pro12 as both Scottish sides won the first of their two games in hand.
In the week when all attention was on the last eight of the Heineken Cup, the Warriors and Edinburgh were back in league action against Benetton Treviso and Newport Gwent Dragons respectively.
Edinburgh kept their slim European chances for next season alive as they edged a close encounter 19-23 at Rodney Parade on Thursday evening to move into seventh place in the table ahead of the Welsh region and Irish side Connacht.
They are just seven points behind sixth-place Scarlets with a game in hand – against the Warriors in this month’s rearranged 1872 Cup clash.
The hosts almost found the first try of the match as Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau offloaded to young wing Hal Amos who got behind the Edinburgh defence, but a try-saving tackle from Sam Hidalgo-Clyne forced a knock-on.
After surviving a spell inside their22, Edinburgh finally succumbed to the pressure when Scotland hooker Ross Ford was penalised, allowing Dragons outside-half Jason Tovey to covert an easy penalty on 14 minutes.
The Gunners’ first meaningful foray into the Dragons’ 22 in the second quarter was quickly snuffed out, but on their next attack won a penalty when the Dragons were penalised for collapsing a scrum.
Jack Cuthbert’s long-range effort was wide and his mistake was punished by Tovery, who added a second easy kick to give Lyn Jones’s side a 6-0 lead.
The young Scottish full-back—who today signed a new two-year deal with Edinburgh—halved the deficit soon after with an effort from 35 metres and that sparked the visitors into life as Matt Scott centre Andries Strauss through.
The South African was stopped just short of the line, but prop WP Nel picked and drove over the line; Cuthbert added the conversion.
The Dragons hit back at the end of the first half as Tovey converted his third penalty of the night to leave them trailing 10-9 at the break and he added a fourth eight minutes after the restart.
But it was short-lived as Scott went on a mazy run two minutes later from 30 metres out for Edinburgh’s second try of the match, the TMO on hand to confirm the grounding before Cuthbert again added the extras.
Cuthbert added a second penalty on 67 minutes as the visitors extended their lead and another followed when Lewis Evans was pulled up for obstruction.
A late Dragons assault started when lock Izak van der Westhuizen was sent to the sin bin and a perfect Wayne Evans pass found winger Ross Wardle to dive over, with Tovey converting to give the Welsh side something to play for late in the game.
When Wardle put a kick through, Edinburgh found themselves under pressure again, but the Dragons were unable to find a way through a resilient Edinburgh defence.
On a rare, mild evening in Glasgow’s west end on Friday, the Warriors secured their first try-scoring bonus point in almost a year in a comfortable 29-10 win over Treviso, a result which saw Gregor Townsend’s side confirm their status as the top Scottish side in the Pro12 which guarantees them a place in next season’s revamped 20-team European competition.
The hosts got off to the perfect start in the opening minute when good work down the right from the impressive wing Sean Maitland in his first start picking up an injury on Six Nations duty with Scotland allowed scrum-half Pyrgos to run in for his first try of the season.
The Scotstoun faithful were already expectant of a long-awaited try fest.
And it looked on the cards three minutes later when outside-half Ruaridh Jackson burst through the middle of a shambolic defence with Mark Bennett taking the ball within two metres of the line before Fijian wing Matawalu went in under the posts for his fourth try in five matches.
Finn Russell made no mistake with his second conversion attempt to give the Warriors at impressive 12-0 lead.
All thoughts of the match being a walkover where put on hold seven minutes later when Treviso went the length of the field as Italian wing Angelo Esposito broke free and carried up to the Glasgow 22 before offloading to centre Alberto Sgarbi for the easy run-in to the line with Tobias Botes adding the conversion.
But it would take more than that to deflate the home side, which until that try boasted the meanest defence in the league, and the 12-point advantage was quickly restored in a stunning team try.
Maitland again the provider down the right before passing inside to flanker Rob Harley who found himself with space metres from the tryline, but unselfishly handed it off to Pyrgos to dive over under the posts for his second of the match.
Russell again added the extras as the Warriors sat on a 19-7 lead and odds-on for a third successive win in as many weeks.
In what was far from a perfect performance the Warriors were guilty of a number of infringements in the second quarter of the first half after the opening 20 minutes had yielded just two penalties – both against the Italians.
Botes reduced the deficit with a penalty from close to 45 metres on 20 minutes when the Warriors were penalised for a high tackle, but the scrum-half saw two further efforts go wide.
The second half began well for the hosts, albeit not explosive as 40 minutes earlier, but the Warriors were on the scoreboard after six minutes as Russell slotted a penalty.
Seven minutes later, the bonus point finally arrived as replacement prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa won a turnover at the breakdown.
Another superb backs try saw Pyrgos and Jackson combine to feed Bennett, who found Maitland marauding down the right again and the winger ran in for his first try of the season, with man of the match Russell again converting for a 29-10 lead and their 13th league win of the season.
All Pro12 clubs will be back in action this weekend with Ospreys vs Leinster (Friday) and Munster vs Glasgow (Saturday) the two standout contests of Round 19.