Glas­gow need Ed­in­burgh favour or big im­prove­ment to qual­ify

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Champions Cup - By Richard Bath at Scot­stoun

Glas­gow War­riors 33 Cardiff Blues 24

So near and yet still so far. De­spite record­ing the pre­dicted but at times hor­ri­bly laboured bonus­point win over a will­ing but sig­nif­i­cantly un­der-strength Cardiff Blues side, Glas­gow War­riors could still face an ag­o­nis­ing fi­nal Cham­pi­ons Cup pool fix­ture against Sara­cens on Satur­day.

With Glas­gow now on 19 points, if Ed­in­burgh beat Mont­pel­lier at Mur­ray­field on Fri­day the War­riors will au­to­mat­i­cally qual­ify for the quar­ter-fi­nals, with both Scot­tish sides mak­ing the knock­out stages for the first time.

Al­though the pres­ence of a Scot­tish team in the last eight is now a cer­tainty, if Ed­in­burgh, who are also on 19 points, fail to beat Vern Cot­ter’s side then (de­pend­ing on points dif­fer­ence) Glas­gow will al­most cer­tainly still need at least one bonus point to progress.

Not that there would be chance of a bonus point of any shape at Al­lianz Park, let alone the win that would bring a home quar­ter-fi­nal, if Glas­gow per­form as poorly as they did against Cardiff yes­ter­day.

This was a re­lent­lessly in­sipid and er­ror-strewn per­for­mance and if Glas­gow repli­cate this lack of in­ten­sity and ac­cu­racy at Sara­cens then the out­come will be ugly. To make mat­ters worse, back-row­ers Matt Fager­son and Cal­lum Gib­bins re­tired in­jured in the early min­utes and are doubt­ful for Satur­day.

“Sara­cens are an­other cou­ple of rungs up, aren’t they?” ad­mit­ted Dave Ren­nie, the Glas­gow coach. “You’ve got to de­fend re­ally well against them, so we’ll need the same sort of in­ten­sity that we played with a few months back, and be more clin­i­cal with ball in hand than we were to­day.

“But we’ve got it in us and we’re look­ing for­ward to it. It was al­ways our mind­set to try to win the pool, so we’ll go to Lon­don and have a de­cent crack at it.”

Ren­nie was clearly re­lieved to com­plete the bonus-point win but Glas­gow look wor­ry­ingly short of con­fi­dence. That trans­lated into a de­fen­sive pas­siv­ity and a lack of the brio that de­fines Glas­gow at their best.

In­deed, had the home side not re­sorted to driv­ing mauls, with Grant Ste­wart’s open­ing try and Chris Fusaro’s bonus-point score both com­ing from 12-man line-out drives, then they could have lost this match.

After some un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally jit­tery open­ing ex­changes, it took al­most half an hour for the War­riors to claim their first try, with sec­ondrow Scott Cum­mings adding an­other soon after when he latched onto an Ali Price crash ball off the back of a ruck in Cardiff ’s 22.

From there on, though, Glas­gow were outscored four tries to three by a Cardiff side who lived off scraps but threat­ened to pick up points ev­ery time they won front­foot ball. In con­trast to Glas­gow’s for­ward-led tries, Owen Lane, Harri Mil­lard and Josh Navidi all crossed over out wide after sweep­ing backs moves, while Lane claimed their last – mak­ing it 28-24 with 10 min­utes to go – un­der the posts.

A Ge­orge Horne score three min­utes from time set­tled this af­fair but did lit­tle to salve Glas­gow’s nerves.

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