Glasgow maintain play-off push
April 4, 2010
Glasgow's Bernardo Stortoni evades the tackle of the Dragon's William Harries during their clash at the Firhill Arena © PA Photos
Glasgow 27 - 19 Dragons Ulster 24 - 33 Cardiff Blues Munster 15 - 16 Leinster Ospreys 27 - 19 Scarlets Connacht 22 - 21 Edinburgh
Glasgow climbed back into the Magners League play-off places with a 27-19 victory over the Dragons at Firhill Arena - their first win in six games in all competitions.
Bernardo Stortoni, DTH van der Merwe and Colin Shaw scored tries for the Warriors, with Dan Parks kicking four penalties. Jason Tovey kicked 12 points for the Newport Gwent Dragons, who fought to the end, with Will Harries scoring a late converted try, but just failed to earn a bonus point which would have aided their own thrust towards the top four.
Glasgow took a fourth minute lead when Graeme Morrison powered through midfield before the ball found fullback Stortoni who went over for the game's opening try. The Dragons responded and with two penalties from Tovey in as many minutes and led by one point after 16 minutes. Glasgow retook the lead when left wing Van Der Merwe hacked long and won the chase to touch down. Although Tovey kicked his third penalty, Glasgow closed the half strongly and earned a 16-9 lead as Parks kicked two penalties of his own following prolonged pressure on the visitors' line.
Four minutes into the second half Dragons centre Matthew Watkins was sin-binned for a high tackle on Evans and Parks kicked the simple penalty. Parks eased Glasgow further ahead after 63 minutes with Tovey replying in kind three minutes later. With nine minutes remaining, Evans kicked to the Dragons line and winger Shaw pounced for an unconverted try. But instead of going for the fourth and bonus try, Glasgow were put on the back foot and in the final minutes Harries scored the sole Dragons try with substitute James Arlidge converting.
Edinburgh's play-off hopes were dealt a blow by Connacht's gutsy 22-21 victory at the Sportsground in Galway. Rob Moffatt's men are not the first to taste defeat at Connacht's little fortress but they would have dearly wanted to open up space over their rivals in the race for a top four spot. Despite out-scoring the hosts three tries to two the visitors were forced to make do with only a losing bonus point.
Ian Keatley got Connacht on the board with a third minute penalty and wing Brian Tuohy pounced for an early try before Keatley continued to add pressure with a drop-goal. Then Edinburgh's wingers struck a one-two punch to steal a half-time lead, with Mark Robertson flying over before Dutchman Tim Visser continued his try-scoring form.
Keatley began the second-half as he did the first by scoring, this time notching Connacht's second try. Another penalty gave the home side some breathing space but Edinburgh's third score, from openside Roddy Grant, threatened to undo their efforts. Replacement Miah Nikorah had other ideas, coolly slotting the winning points to send Edinburgh home cursing what could have been.
A double from flying Irish wing Tommy Bowe secured the spoils in the West Wales derby at the Liberty Stadium as the Ospreys defeated the Scarlets 27-19 on Friday night. The result revives the home side's title hopes but leaves the Scarlets staring into the abyss in terms of Heineken Cup qualification. Stephen Jones kicked 14 points for the visitors but it was his pass that was picked off in the dying moments for Bowe to seal victory.
Bowe had earlier cancelled out Jonathan Davies' try while Dan Biggar outdid his rival for the Wales No.10 jersey with 17 points from the boot.
Biggar's early drop-goal gave the home side the lead and the youthful fly-half was on hand to claim the advantage again after Jones had levelled the scores. The first try went to the visitors and was a well-worked affair, with Rob McCusker and Rhys Priestland carving through the line and creating the space for Davies to crash over.
The Ospreys' international contingent clicked into gear for their first try as Lee Byrne fractured some resolute Scarlets defence with an outside break, putting the lethal Bowe over in the corner. The second half saw Jones and Biggar trading kicks to leave the score at 20-19 to the home side with moments remaining and it was one misjudged pass that sealed the Scarlets' fate.
In Saturday night's fixture, Cardiff Blues made it back-to-back wins against Ulster with a 33-24 victory at Ravenhill that also kept their slim play-off hopes alive and bolstered their chances of staying in next season's Heineken Cup. For Ulster, though, defeat represented their fourth league game without a win and keeps the pressure on them to ensure they finish ahead of bottom side Connacht, who they head by only four points.
Tries from man of the match Casey Laulala, Ulster-bound Xavier Rush and replacement Dafydd Hewitt saw the Blues home, along with 14 points from the boot of Wales winger Leigh Halfpenny. Ulster staged a second-half revival with scores from Stephen Ferris and Chris Henry, but they were never quite close enough to threaten Cardiff's control of the game.