Full Time: Cardiff Blues 23-19 Glasgow Warriors
Match Attendance: 8,024
By Rhys Thomas
Cardiff Blues’ winning run at the start of the season had swelled the ranks of the Arms Park faithful for the home PRO12 fixture against Glasgow Warriors on a balmy Friday night in the Welsh capital, and those in attendance were in for a treat.
The home side were the first on the scoreboard in the second minute with Gareth Anscombe knocking over a simple penalty, and the Welsh international kicked an even easier penalty from straight in front in the 14th minute, extending the lead to 6-0.
It was the Blues who has the earliest chance of a try in the 17th minute with Rey Lee-Lo nearly taking advantage after a wayward pass from Glasgow outside-half Rory Clegg, the former England under-20 international forced over his own line after tracking back well. The Blues could not score from the scrum, but showed they had the better of the early battles. They continued their early dominance in the 22nd minute, the diminutive full-back Matthew Morgan streaking through a porous Glasgow defence and sending out a beautiful looping pass to Tom James who chipped through, but the movement unluckily came to nothing.
The home side didn’t have to wait much longer however, and the pressure was continued until James’ wing partner Alex Cuthbert punched through from close range in the 24th minute to grab the first try of the game, which Anscombe duly converted.
After the Blues went 13-0 up the game swung to the Scots, Lions tourist Stuart Hogg scoring in the 27th minute, Clegg putting Lee Jones through a gaping hole before Jones swung the ball out for Hogg to go over unopposed, Clegg adding the extras. They could’ve scored again just four minutes later with scrum-half Ali Price scything through the Cardiff defence before ponderous passing from the Glasgow back line-ended in flanker Ryan Wilson dropping the ball on the wing. Even so, they were well back in the match.
Their pressure told and within minutes a mistake from Blues flanker Josh Navidi was pounced on, the Welsh international misplacing a pass with Peter Horne scoring after a few phases with the ball being moved wide. Clegg converted, and the visitors took the lead for the first time in the match, 13-14.
As the interval approached, Cardiff received a penalty fifty metres out – outside Anscombe’s goal kicking range, but after some consultation he decided to tap and go which resulted in a well-worked try for Lee-Lo in the opposite corner which Anscombe was able to convert impressively. The two teams went into the changing rooms with the Blues 20-14 up, but it was a game which either side could win.
The sky blackened as the second-half kicked off, and the Blues received an immediate boost as Clegg kicked out the restart on the full, but were unable to take advantage as they conceded a penalty at the resulting scrum.
The visitors were the first to score after the break with Glasgow scrum-half Ali Price burrowing his way over after some sloppy defending from the home side. Clegg missed the conversion, so the Blues held onto a slender lead, 20-19. The see-saw nature of the match continued with a superb period of play nearly half-way through the second half, the Blues going half the length of the field deep into Glasgow territory before substitute Nick Williams spilled the ball.
The flowing, back and forth nature of the match intensified as the minutes went by despite the lack of more tries, and substitute Steve Shingler went on to score the next points of the match – a penalty two minutes from time which eased some jitters at the Arms Park making the score 23-19 and putting the pressure on Glasgow to come back and score a try.
In the end it wasn’t to be for the visitors, and Wales skipper Sam Warburton won the final penalty at a breakdown securing a fantastic win for the Blues against a Glasgow side filled with quality and one of the favourites for winning this season’s PRO12. A real statement for Cardiff, and one which the other sides in the league will take notice of.
Man of the Match: Tom James