Matawalu’s magic puts Warriors in command
OSPREYS had more territory and possession and made more metres than their opponents, but Glasgow were comfortable and deserved winners thanks to the brilliance of Niko Matawalu.
If ever there was a game where the statistics don’t tell the full story, this was it. The Warriors were the only team who looked like coming out on top with Matawalu scoring a stunning hat-trick.
Ospreys made 510 metres, had 59 per cent possession, and 65 per cent territory. The problem was they did little with it and Matawalu showed them a lesson in how to be clinical at key moments.
The flying Fijian rose from the bench to replace the hamstrung Ruaridh Jackson in just the fourth minute and was the difference between the teams. Nick Grigg scored Glasgow’s bonus-point try.
He was excellent too and took home the official man of the match award, but it was Matawalu who lit the blue touch paper at the Liberty Stadium.
It left the Ospreys – who scored through captain Olly Cracknell and a late Hanno Dirksen consolation – to admit they were well beaten.
“Glasgow are a side who are probably two or three years ahead of us in terms of their development and depth. You could see that in this game,” said Ospreys head coach Allen Clarke.
“They’re well coached, have good individuals, and play with pace. We have no qualms about the result. It’s disappointing because we’d been on a good run.
“We knew we had to be clinical for the majority of that game, but we gifted them a couple of scores. We tried hard, too hard at times, and there was no lack of effort, but you don’t need to be an expert to realise Glasgow have better depth.”
Brandon Thomson kicked an early penalty before Cracknell smashed his way over from Tom Habberfield’s pass and Sam Davies converted. After that, it was the Matawalu show.
He’d been on the field just eight minutes when he finished off an outrageous offload from the superb DTH Van der Merwe.
Grigg then powered through midfield past some poor Ospreys tackling and Matawalu was there in support to finish. Thomson converted both scores.
Davies kicked penalties either side of the break to close the home deficit to just four points but Matawalu extinguished any comeback hopes.
The Glasgow forwards laid the platform and Thomson cross-kicked for the replacement wing who made a difficult finish look easy for his third.
On the hour, another fine
Warriors backs move put the game to bed. From a scrum in their own half, Van der Merwe led the charge and Grigg did the rest. Thomson converted.
Ospreys never gave up, but their young backs were too lateral in attack as they went sideways rather than forwards. Dirksen scored the game’s final try, but it wasn’t enough for a losing bonus point.
“I was shouting at Niko in defence in the last five minutes, but he is clinical and a real threat in attack,” said Glasgow coach Dave Rennie. “He’s going great at the moment and we are fortunate to have someone of his quality. We had a lot more punch than the Ospreys in attack.
“We have a lot of depth and we don’t talk too much about who is not here. It certainly felt a lot more comfortable than 29-20.”
Hat-trick hero: Nikola Matawalu scores one of his three for Glasgow