Harris is humbled as Cardiff crumble in Glasgow

Glasgow 47 Cardiff 32
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The Independent Online

After the hype and hysteria of Iestyn Harris's first two games of rugby union, with a hat-trick of tries and 31 points in the first game against Glasgow, came the first disappointment as he appeared as fallible as the rest of a woefully mistake-ridden Cardiff side, who have left themselves an awful lot to do if they are to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup, having fallen victim to a full-blooded tartan ambush at Hughenden.

The "Great Redeemer" himself, the Wales coach Graham Henry, paying his first visit to Glasgow, was there to witness it and there was the pleasure of seeing his son, Andrew, score one of Cardiff's four tries. Yes Harris did contribute 17 points, and score a neat solo try in stoppage time, though by then the match was over. In fact it was over as a meaningful contest by the end of the third quarter, with Glasgow 34-11 ahead, and coasting to victory. The Scottish forwards never gave Cardiff a moment's relaxation. Jon Petrie, Gordon Bulloch and Gordon McIlwham asked all sorts of questions, and Tommy Hayes chipped in with 32 points.

From the Cardiff director of rugby, Rudy Joubert, there were no excuses. "Glasgow were a lot better organised than last week," said Joubert. "The return of key players obviously made a difference to them. We lost four line-outs on our own throw in the first 30 minutes and missed far too many first-time tackles." Asked if he thought Harris was ready to make his Wales debut, Joubert said: "The sooner he gets some exposure at international level, the better it will be for him."

Riled by the size of the defeat in Cardiff, Glasgow were soon in control. Harris made a desperately weak attempt at a tackle on Glenn Metcalfe, Gordon Bulloch found Hayes with a pinpoint pass to his right for the South Sea Islander to touch down and convert. A Hayes penalty followed and, when Rhys Williams dropped Harris's pass, Rory Kerr swooped for the try. Against all expectations, Glasgow were 15 points up in as many minutes.

When they did at last manage to get a foothold in Glasgow territory, Harris kicked a straight penalty. Hayes replied in kind, before Cardiff's next attack earned Henry his try; Harris being the provider, though he failed with the conversion. Had Hayes not failed with two other penalty shots and the conversion of Kerr's try, Cardiff would have been further adrift than 18-8 when the sides turned round.

Although Cardiff opened with another Harris penalty, Glasgow piled on the pressure and the points, putting a further 16 with a try by Jamie McLaren, converted inevitably by Hayes, who banged over three more penalties as Cardiff became increasingly disjointed. When Andy Nicol's clearance was aimed at nowhere in particular, the full-back Williams ran in a try from 60 metres.

From there it became a game of fantasy rugby with both sides tiring and Cardiff getting tries by Pieter Muller and Harris. But a try by Roland Reid and another eight points by Hayes triggered a tremendous display of fireworks.

Glasgow: Tries Hayes, Kerr, McLaren, Reid Conversions Hayes (3) Penalties Hayes (7); Cardiff: Tries Henry, Muller, Harris, Williams Conversions Harris (3) Penalties Harris (2).

Glasgow: G Metcalfe; J Steel, J McLaren (A Bulloch, 77), A Henderson, R Kerr; T Hayes, A Nicol (capt, G Beveridge, 81); D Hilton (B Prescott, 78), G Bulloch, G McIlwham, N Ross, J White, R Reid, G Flockhart (G Simpson, 70), J Petrie.

Cardiff: R Williams; A Henry, J Robinson (M Allen, 70), P Muller, A Sullivan; I Harris, R Howley; J Spencer, J Humphreys (A Lewis, 66), D Young (capt, P Rogers, 66), C Quinell, A Jones (G Kacala, 54), R Appleyard, S Sititi, E Lewis.

Referee: D de Santis (Italy).

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