Glasgow Caledonians 13
THE SWANSEA supporters who decided not to attend this match can count themselves lucky. The less fortunate who did turn up had to endure a mistake-ridden affair with Swansea proving only marginally better than the poorly organised Glasgow.
Swansea have been the most powerful and entertaining side in Wales over the last three seasons, and at their best one of the strongest sides in Britain. Sadly this latest display did little for that rating. They supply several key players to the Welsh World Cup team including Scott Gibbs, Garin Jenkins and Colin Charvis. They've also suffered from a spate of cruel injuries, but despite these unavailabilities still managed to field eight full internationals including former Wales captain Robert Jones and the enigmatic Arwel Thomas, who started well enough but whose head down display in the second half confirms Graham Henry's decision to exclude him from the World Cup squad.
John Plumtree, Swansea's Kiwi coach, has always praised the strength in depth of his squad but on the basis of this largely lacklustre display he will be anxious for the return of his more heavyweight international players.
Glasgow were also a shadow of their potential strength and called on David Hilton and Shaun Longstaff, two World Cup squad players, to bolster the team. Their outstanding performer was the rampaging Gareth Flockhart in the back row. He was lively throughout.
Glasgow, positive from the first whistle, took advantage of Swansea's indiscipline. Ian Jardine, Andy Nicol and Flockhart led the physical challenge but they were sadly short of any subtlety. In contrast, Swansea looked for gaps rather than contact early on, and centre Richard Jones skated through after 10 minutes courtesy of Thomas' perfect pass for the opening try, which Thomas converted.
To prove that his footwork was a match for his handling, Thomas stroked over two penalties from near halfway. He's a hugely skillful and talented individual whose laid-back appearance attracts both terms of endearment and gasps of frustration with every touch. The latter was more in evidence during this game.
Glasgow's solitary try was an almost carbon copy of the Swansea opener with Tommy Hayes and Jardine playing the roles of Thomas and Jones. Hayes converted but Swansea improved their lead with a well worked try from a lineout for hooker Chris Wells.
On the restart Glasgow carelessly conceded possession after a quick throw-in, and scrum half Jones pounced to lay on Wells' second try. Hayes kicked two penalties for the visitors to keep the game alive, until winger Richard Rees crossed in the dying minutes to seal Swansea's victory.
Swansea: A Lawson; R Rees, Richard Jones, A Barnard, M Robinson; A Thomas (capt), Robert Jones; D Morris, C Wells, C Anthony, T Maullin, J Griffiths, P Moriarty, R Appleyard, L Jones.
Glasgow: B Irving; S Longstaff, J Stuart, I Jardine, J Craig; T Hayes, A Nicol (capt); D Hilton, G Scott, G McIlwham, S Griffiths, S Campbell, D Burns, G Flockhart, J White.
Referee: D R Davies