Glasgow Warriors notched up their third successive victory in the Guinness Pro12 with a 33-13 win over Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade on Saturday. The Scottish side had to overcome adversity though as they lost flanker Tyrone Holmes to a red card shortly after half time but fought back brilliantly to secure the bonus point victory in Wales.
The visitors started brightly and, showing a refreshing brand of attacking flair scored the first try of the match through centre Alex Dunbar. The Scottish internationalist latched onto a flat pass from scrum half Niko Matawalu to burst through the Welsh defence and streak over for the opening try under the posts. Fly half Duncan Weir converted to give Glasgow a 7-0 lead early on.
The Dragons looked to get themselves into the match properly, and after two defeats in the opening two weekends, a strong performance was needed in front of the Rodney Parade faithful. Glasgow however were staunch in defence and won themselves a penalty from a scrum. Weir extended the lead to ten points before the Dragons got their first opportunity of the match.
Young fly half Angus O’Brien slotted a penalty from the Glasgow 10 metre line to reduce the gap, but soon after, gave away another scrum penalty; this time from forty metres out. Glasgow full back Stuart Hogg slammed over the kick from distance to reinstate the ten point lead going into half time.
The Dragons had few chances throughout the half but when they arose, they got close to scoring. Winger Aled Brew neatly drew in defenders in midfield to set up the Dragons back three. Neat hands saw full back Hallam Amos get close down the line, but Glasgow defence ensured he would get no further.
Glasgow looked by far the more settled side and dominated throughout. Influential Fijians Matawalu and Leone Nakaraw proved more than a handful for the home side and some clever interplay found DTH van der Merwe streaking down the touchline, only to be hauled into touch by scrambling Welsh defence.
The second half would have a dramatic twist however. The Dragons, down to 14 men temporarily – as prop Lloyd Fairbrother was sin binned for collapsing the scrum on the brink of halftime – looked to wind the clock down. Glasgow on the other hand aimed to make the most of the one man advantage. But all this would change. Tyrone Holmes lashed out at prop T.Rhys Thomas after the Dragons front rower was holding onto the Glasgow flanker unnecessarily. A yellow card for the pair would have perhaps been a satisfactory result but red it was and now Glasgow were on the back foot.
At least in theory they were. The numerical disadvantage did not seem to be evident in the visitors’ play. It almost seemed like they were playing with sixteen instead of fourteen as the confidence remained sky high. Centre Peter Horne provided a go to for the Warriors and, after some effective forward work, captain Josh Strauss barged over for the try. The lead was now 23-6 after Henry Pyrgos’ conversion.
The Dragons replied courageously and scored a try of their own. Aled Brew found space in behind the Glasgow defence and after a series of pick of goes from the forwards, scrum half Richie Rees found his way over the line to score. O’Brien converted to make the score 23-13.
But Glasgow were in an attacking mood and would not be stopped. After a series of rugby tennis, Weir fed Hogg at pace, and after a slewing run, fixing several Welsh defenders set Tommy Seymour racing down the line to go in at the corner. Glasgow’s now extended even further and on the verge of a bonus point.
The visitors, content with the knowledge of victory in the closing ten minutes, played the game in the right area. Weir and Hogg kicked for territory more and more as Glasgow tightened their grip in a tactically astute performance. The final nail in the coffin for the Dragons came as Glasgow won a five metre lineout and mauled towards the line. The home favourites, overpowered in mauls and scrums all day were put to the sword in the final four minutes as Tim Swinson fell over the line to secure the bonus point win.
But the young Dragons outfit were not short of courage, and they launched one last attempt at a try in the final minute. And it looked like they would, but for Lewis Evans was held up over the line.
And with it, the final whistle came and Glasgow returned to the top of the Pro12 standings, with their third victory in a row. The Dragons on the other hand slipped to their third defeat in as many weeks and will have to look at themselves carefully in a game they should possibly have won.