Matawalu’s magic puts War­riors in com­mand

The Rugby Paper - - Pro14 - By ALEX BYWATER

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.”

PIC­TURE: In­pho

Hat-trick hero: Nikola Matawalu scores one of his three for Glas­gow

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