Glasgow Warriors 31 Ospreys 10: Warriors two from two in PRO14 with defensive masterclass

Alex Dunbar breaks through to score the opening try at Scotstoun.

The Glasgow Warriors played a classic game of rope-a-dope with the Ospreys on their way to a bonus point victory in their Guinness PRO14 home opener.

The home side played much of the game without the ball, soaking up phase after phase of attacks from the Welsh side but were only breached once in defence.

In contrast the Warriors were mostly clinical with their scoring opportunities, two tries from Alex Dunbar and scores from Leo Sarto and Adam Ashe securing the bonus point.

The Warriors still looked a little early-season rusty at reaching half-time at 10-10, but they shut out the Opsreys in the second half and pulled away with Finn Russell coming on to a game as the contest progressed.

But it was defence where Glasgow really excelled, new signing Callum Gibbins being particularly forceful with some choice hits, one of which forced the mistake for the opening try.

It certainly wasn’t the complete performance, but Glasgow go to struggling Cardiff next week with two wins under their belts having not played anywhere near their best in the opening games.

The trend was set early in the first half with the Warriors entrenched in defence having barely any attacking ball to work with, but somehow they finished the first 40 minutes level.

All their 10 points in the half came largely as a result of defensive pressure as well, notably the opening try gifted by Ospreys after a scrappy first 15 minutes from both sides.

Ospreys stand-off Sam Davies was forced into a hasty pass by a forceful tackle by Gibbins and the ball fell at Dunbar’s feet, the Scotland centre showing pace and power to race in from halfway shrugging off tacklers along the way.

Another forced pass allowed Russell to dribble the ball through and gather and when the Ospreys were offside in retreat, the Scotland 10 kicked his side 10-0 ahead.

However Russell looked rusty in the first 40 with a couple of fumbles and some directionless kicking, and Ospreys started to get a foothold through scrums and Glasgow’s fumbles.

The Ospreys nearly sprung Dan Evans through a gap on a short pass by Davies, but when they tried the move a second time the full-back slipped through almost untouched from ten yards out to score under the posts.

Davies’ conversion drew his side within three and although he missed a penalty from halfway the stand-off kicked a penalty right on the break to level the scores after the Warriors were forced into tenacious defence for much of the rest of the half.

Glasgow badly needed some ball and after soaking up an initial Ospreys attacking spell they started to make inroads.

First a dart around a ruck by Horne saw Rory Hughes burst away but he was caught by a try-saving tackle by Keelan Giles.

Then the big wing raced on to a cross kick from Jackson but couldn’t quite hold on under pressure again from Giles.

That was Hughes’ final action as he limped off to be replaced by Leo Sarto and the Italian international struck quickly.

He was caught in a high tackle by Justin Tipuric and before the Ospreys defence could regroup, Russell took a quick penalty, Jackson carried on and off-loaded for Sarto to juggle the ball but score, Russell converting.

Ospreys attempted a quick reply but Bradley Davies was held up over the line and a big scrum from the Warriors repelled the attack and forced a turnover.

Almost immediately Sam Davies’ floated but telegraphed pass near halfway was plucked out of the air by Ashe, who galloped in for another gift try.

Russell converted and Glasgow were content to soak up phase after phase from the Ospreys who were barely making any ground in the effort.

Instead the visitors lost Ollie Cracknell on a stretcher after a sickening collision and then Bradley Davies to a yellow card for taking out Tim Swinson in the air at a lineout.

The Warriors chose to scrum the penalty and it was disrupted ball, but Russell’s flat pass allowed Dunbar to barrel over the line from five yards out to clinch the bonus point.

Att: 7351

Glasgow Warriors: R Jackson; L Jones, A Dunbar, P Horne, R Hughes; F Russell, A Price; J Bhatti, G Turner, Z Fagerson; T Swinson, S Cummings; R Wilson (capt), C Gibbins, A Ashe.

Replacements: P MacArthur for Turner 67, O Kebble for Bhatti 54 (reversed 62), D Rae for Fagerson 62, B Alainu’uese for Cummings 64, M Fagerson for Ashe 64, H Pyrgos for Price 62, N Grigg for Horne 72, L Sarto for Hughes 46.

Ospreys: D Evans; K Giles, K Fonotia, C Allen, J Hassler; S Davies, T Habberfield; P James, S Parry, M Fia; B Davies, L Ashley; O Cracknell, J Tipuric (capt), J King.

Replacements: S Otten for Parry 46, N Smith for James 48, R Jones for Fia 55, A Beard for Ashley 46, G Mercer for Cracknell 72, R Morgan-Williams for Habberfield 72, J Hook for Allen 63, J Baker for Hassler 72.

Ref: Marius Mitrea (FIR)