GLASGOW 37 DRAGONS 6
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons suffered yet another pointless away trip in the RaboDirect Pro12 after being battered, humiliated and embarrassed by Glasgow at Scotstoun Stadium.
The Warriors – without a raft of Scotland internationals – made light work of their visitors, crossing for five tries in a dispiriting mismatch.
It was a miserable night where there were just two consolations – it wasn’t a full-strength Glasgow side, otherwise it could have been even messier, and Cardiff Blues lost.
That’s what Dragons fans have been reduced to; being relieved that another region is just as hapless.
The performance was every bit as bad as the second-half capitulation against Ulster seven days earlier with the Dragons failing to make any impact in attack and shipping the softest of tries.
Rugby sides up and down the land frequently pledge to ‘learn the harsh lessons’ from mistakes but there was precious little evidence of that at Scotstoun.
Just about the only positive was the performance of number eight Tom Brown, who showed an insatiable appetite for ball carrying, but even he was outplayed by Glasgow’s bearded South African Josh Strauss.
All in all it was a deflating evening, crushing the Dragons’ hopes that a return to Scotland would help cure their travel sickness. The region had failed to register a single point from their six away games since beating Edinburgh at Murrayfield in March.
While the Dragons were hoping to trigger a change, the Warriors were hoping for more of the same as they chased a sixth Pro12 win on the bounce.
But Glasgow were hard hit by Scotland calls with national boss Andy Robinson denying them the services of captain Alastair Kellock, Stuart Hogg, Sean Lamont, Ryan Grant, Ruaridh Jackson and Henry Pygros ahead of their Test against world champions New Zealand.
Number eight Toby Faletau was the Dragons’ only international absentee and that lack of disruption gave the visitors a golden shot at upsetting the in-form Warriors, even if the bookies were still leaning towards the side that started the evening in third place.
As usual they were proved right.
The Dragons started well and tested the Glasgow defence with some patient, multi-phase attacks but a bright opening swiftly turned into a horror show.
Warriors fly-half Scott Wight opened the scoring with a 50-metre penalty and the Dragons then conceded a shocker.
Fly-half Lewis Robling shanked a clearance kick and then compounded the error by making a complete mess of gathering a grubber kick through in the dead ball area, gifting the simplest of scores to full-back Peter Murchie.
If it wasn’t bad enough to be 10-0 down in the opening exchanges then it swiftly got worse with both captain Lewis Evans, who had made a striking start to the game with plenty of ball carries, forced off with a blood injury and dazed lock Rob Sidoli helped from the field.
It was one-way traffic and it looked possible that the Dragons could suffer a drubbing even worse than Cardiff Blues’ nine-try humbling at the hands of Leinster a week ago.
South African import Josh Strauss was denied the Warriors’ second by a forward pass but there was nothing to prevent a second embarrassing score on the half hour.
The Dragons were caught napping at a ruck and loosehead – yes, loosehead – Gordon Reid was allowed to rumble over from 30 metres.
A bout of kicking preceded the half-time whistle, Wight struck a conversion and penalty and Tom Prydie knocked over a brace to make it 20-6 as they headed to the changing rooms.
Given the shapeless performance by the visitors it was a relief that they were only 14 points back and a dramatic improvement was required.
It didn’t come.
Just three more minutes had elapsed when a bout of pressure inside the 22 ended with Glasgow lock Tom Ryder muscling his way over.
Even a losing bonus point was a long way off at 25-6, especially given that the Dragons had barely made a line break.
From then on the game drifted away with the main interest whether the Warriors could force their way over for their bonus point score.
It came just past the hour thanks to a magical assist by Fijian scrum-half Niko Matawalu, who took a quick tap penalty and conjured a wonderful offload for winger Tommy Seymour to dash over.
That wasn’t the end of it for the visitors, the dagger was plunged in even deeper when Seymour chipped over the top and was presented with his second try when the ball took a bizarre bounce to wrongfoot the covering Dan Evans before hitting the post and falling in the winger’s path.
It was a comical score but you would have been hard pressed to find anyone in Dragons colours laughing on a humiliating night.
Glasgow: P Murchie, T Seymour, A Dunbar, T Nathan (P Horne 65), T Paris, S Wight, N Matawalu (S Kennedy 71), G Reid (O Fainga’anuku 57), D Hall (F Gillies 77), M Cusack (G Araoz 77), T Ryder (J Eddie 57), T Swinson, R Harley, C Fusaro (captain, J Barclay 65), J Strauss (R Wilson 75).
Scorers: tries – P Murchie, G Reid, T Ryder, T Seymour (2); conversions – S Wight (3); penalties – S Wight (2)
Dragons: D Evans, T Prydie (H Amos 69), P Leach, A Smith, T Chavhanga, L Robling (Steffan Jones 55), J Evans (L Davies 55), P Price (N Williams 38), Steve Jones (H Gustafson 60), N Buck (D Way 60), I Nimmo, R Sidoli (A Jones 18), L Evans (captain, J Groves 16-28), N Cudd, T Brown (J Groves 69).
Scorers: penalties – T Prydie (2)
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Argus star man: Tom Brown