glasgow 47

cardiff 32


A FULL-BLOWN firework display greeted this win; while fire-eating dancers provided impressive half-time entertainment, but nothing could upstage the on-field pyrotechnics at Hughenden yesterday.

This was wonderful entertainment and, while any chance of reaching the quarter-finals remains only a technical one, Glasgow once again ensured that their supporters in a near 5000 crowd went home having had an experience they will want to repeat.

In the end it was four tries apiece, but had Tommy Hayes had been as accurate with his last kick of the ball to bring up the half century, that would have gone further towards creating the the right impression of the balance of play than the ultimate margin of victory.

Hayes had a magnificent night, eclipsing the 31-point haul that had seen Iestyn Harris immediately nominated for a place in Wales' Test side, with 32 of his own.

As he carried the ball powerfully at his opposite number at the first opportunity, driving Harris backwards, it was clear Hayes was eager to make his point and within a minute of that he had scored the game's first try.

Gareth Flockhart and James McLaren, whose return was a huge influence on the game as Glasgow's defence improved beyond recognition compared with last week, made the initial inroads before the ball was transferred quickly right.

Width was provided as Andy Henderson, growing in maturity with every game, made a half break, Andy Nicol and Gordon Bulloch then moving the ball on to provide Hayes with the room to get away.

Hayes then converted from the touchline, the first of 10 successful kicks at goal which maintained the pressure on Cardiff throughout.

McLaren's rapid reaction to Rhys Williams' failure to hold on to a Harris pass saw the ball hacked deep into the Cardiff 22 where Rory Kerr showed good feet to chip the ball on, then good hands to catch it as he dived over the line for the second try which put the home side in control.

Cardiff got back in touch, however, shortly before the interval when, in spite of appearing to have been held in Kerr's tackle, Andrew Henry got up and reached over the line for their first try.

While both fly-halfs kicked well Hayes was being given more opportunities as Glasgow maintained the pressure on their visitors and they drew away again when superb continuity play ended with Hayes, Glenn Metcalfe and Kerr shifting the ball quickly out to McLaren who charged over.

Richie Dixon, Glasgow's coach, admitted afterwards that they perhaps should have thought about boosting their try count rather than kicking so many second half penalties.

However, he also pointed out that their determination to keep the scoreboard moving was probably at least partly down to failure to kick goals when within range at Cardiff a week earlier - instead opting to try to force their way over from lineouts - having contributed to their problems in the Welsh capital.

''You have to recognise the fact that if we didn't keep daylight between us then, as they showed at the end, these guys are capable of creating tries out of nothing and they could have got back into it,'' he added.

Home supporters who have seen them throw away commanding leads to finish with draws against Ulster and Montferrand this season, were probably just as happy to see Hayes kicking his goals, too.

A lack of ruthlessness was also exposed as, in the final quarter Williams, Pieter Muller and Harris were allowed to waltz in for easy tries.

However, Roland Reid's late try, after a horrible blunder by Craig Quinnell, dropping the ball when under no real pressure inside his own 22, ensured that there would be no late frights this time. Of course as Richie Dixon rightly anticipated, much of the attention from the visiting media focussed upon Cardiff's apparent failure after their previous week's 46-7 victory over the same opponents.

Rudi Joubert, Cardiff's coach, also fed that angle by agonising over what he feels are inexplicable problems when his side travel away from home.

However, as Graham Henry, last summer's Lions coach will now have realised after his first visit to Glasgow, the problem exists in both countries which is why he should have looked at the performances of contenders for his squad both home and away before making his judgements.

Clearly Dixon is becoming sensitive about the lack of credit they are receiving. However, sooner or later the way in which they are setting about building a fortress at Hughenden, a ground at which only one Welsh side has won in the last 18 months, must be more widely recognised if they continue.

''We can still have a presence in this competition and let people see that Scottish rugby is not as bad as some people tell us,'' he observed afterwards.

''I would not detract at all from what Cardiff did last week, but we had a lot of problems then just getting a team on the field. But we didn't miss one another when we came together to analyse the defeat at the start of this week.

''The players still gave away a couple of soft tries, but I was very pleased with the way they responded. We should have won by more, but when you are coming off a 46-7 defeat, then maybe you are not as clinical as you should be.''

teams and details

Glasgow G Metcalfe; J Steel, J McLaren (A Bulloch 77 min), A Henderson, R Kerr; T Hayes, A Nicol (G Beveridge 80); D Hilton (B Prescott 78), G Bulloch, G McIlwham, N Ross, J White, R Reid, G Flockhart (G Simpson 70), J Petrie

Cardiff R Williams; A Henry, J Robinson (M Allen 70), P Muller, A Sullivan; I Harris, R Howley; S John, J Humphreys (A Lewis 65), D Young (P Rogers 65), C Quinnell, A Jones (G Kacala 54), R Appleyard (F Mounier 75), S Sititi, E Lewis

Referee G de Santi (Italy)

Scoring sequence (Glasgow first) 7-0, 10-0, 15-0, 15-3, 18-3, 18-8 (half-time) 18-11, 21-11, 28-11, 31-11, 34-11, 34-18, 37-18, 40-18, 40-25, 47-25, 47-32

Scorers. Glasgow. Tries Hayes (5), Kerr (14), McLaren (48), Reid (77) Cons Hayes (5, 48, 77) Pens Hayes (9, 28, 45, 55, 58, 64, 68) Cardiff. Tries Henry (33), Williams (61), Muller (75), Harris (80) Cons Harris (61, 75, 80) Pens Harris (20, 42)