Glasgow 31 Ospreys 23
A hat-trick from Nikki Walker isn't enough to prevent the Ospreys slipping to defeat at Firhill on Sunday afternoon.
The Scotland wing scored two tries in the opening half and a third at the death, but Glasgow were able to ensure that the Ospreys failed to take away even the consolation of a losing bonus point despite leading for an hour.
There was a change among the replacements for the Ospreys, Tom Prydie taking Gareth Owen’s place on the bench after the versatile Maesteg product failed to recover from a calf problem.
Dan Biggar got the first points of the afternoon, slotting over a straightforward penalty in the fourth minute after Moray Low was penalised at a scrum following an unforced knock-on by Max Evans.
The Ospreys extended their lead just three minutes later, Walker crossing in the corner on his return to his Scottish homeland after some neat passing that saw the ball pass through the hands of Biggar, Jerry Collins and Lee Byrne, before the fullback’s offload to Walker, who handed off Rob Dewey to score his 30th try in 88 games for the region.
Biggar was unsuccessful with a difficult conversion attempt, just as he was a minute or so later with a penalty from halfway after Glasgow were again penalised at the scrum.
Glasgow hadn’t had much of a look-in to this point, but they looked to put the Ospreys under pressure for the first time, slowly edging their forward towards the visitors line. Evans, Colin Shaw and Jon Welsh all being held up close to the line as they drove forward, sucking in defenders before Colin Gregor spun the ball wide, only for Bernardo Stortoni to knock on as Richard Fussell came in to tackle.
Ruaridh Jackson got Glasgow on the scoreboard with a simple penalty from in front of the posts after James Hook found himself isolated and failed to release the ball after being tackled, only for Biggar to then go up the other end and restore the eight-point lead after Stortoni was guilty of not rolling away. In amongst all this action, Byrne had been forced out of the action with a hand injury, Prydie replacing him.
The game had started to become a little bit frenetic, with neither side showing any kind of control or composure as play swung one way and then the other, but it was Glasgow who got the next score, a try that wouldn’t have pleased the Ospreys coaches. Gregor moved the ball left from a ruck to second row Richie Gray who threw a dummy that was bought by both Paul James and Mike Phillips, allowing the big forward to canter through the gap to score, despite the best efforts of Fussell, Jackson failing to add the extras.
The Ospreys response was emphatic, Walker scoring his second try just a couple of minutes later. The visitors has gone through several phases, with Fussell, Hook and Ian Evans all carrying well before Biggar’s delayed pass drew the tackler, allowing Walker to squeeze in past Jackson in the corner, the TMO confirming the score. Again, Biggar’s kick was unsuccessful.
Glasgow came straight back, and only some great defensive work from Biggar stopped Moray Low from driving over for a try. Glasgow forwards piled into the ruck just half a metre out, where referee David Wilkinson spotted Ryan Jones using hands illegally, sin binning the number eight for the offence, Jackson scoring the penalty.
With the clock showing time up in the first period Glasgow were handed an opportunity to reduce the deficit further, but Jackson’s long range effort from inside his own half fell well short.
HALF-TIME: GLASGOW 11 OSPREYS 16
Ryan Bevington and Craig Mitchell were introduced to the action at the restart in place of Paul James and Adam Jones.
The Ospreys were on the offensive during the opening minutes of the second half without really looking to find a way through, before Jackson was off target with a penalty attempt from halfway after Bowe was penalised for being in front of the kicker as he chased Biggar’s punt forward.
Glasgow then put together a spell of good possession, Dougie Hall, Muldowney and Robert Harley all prominent as they tried to barge their way over the line, but the Ospreys defence held firm, Glasgow having to settle for a scrum five. With Mefin Davies now on for Bennett, there was a completely fresh front-row on the pitch, but the Ospreys were penalised for bringing the scrum down, Jackson slotting over to bring his team to within two points of the Ospreys.
Biggar had the chance to give the Ospreys some breathing space after Glasgow skipper John Barclay was penalised, but again he was off target.
Again Glasgow came at the Ospreys, patiently working their way upfield through the phases before winning a penalty against Marty Holah, on for Justin Tipuric. Jackson was unable to give his team the lead for the first time though, as he sliced it to the right of the posts.
Jackson was replaced by Duncan Weir shortly after, who soon had his first opportunity within minutes after Holah was again penalised, this time for offside, and the Glasgow replacement duly slotted over to put his side ahead with 16 minutes to go.
It got better for the hosts three minutes later, Richie Vernon barging his way over for a try despite the efforts of Mitchell and Ryan Jones after some more patient play from the Glasgow pack, Weir’s conversion making it 24-16.
The Ospreys were struggling to make any headway as Glasgow looked to turn the screw, and only some dogged defence prevented Max Evans and Stortoni from crossing the line as the hosts pounded away, before Vernon finally crossed the line only to be denied his second try by the outstretched arm of Ian Evans, the TMO ruling that the Glasgow number eight had been prevented from grounding the ball.
From the resulting scrum five, Glasgow were able to grab their third try, Kevin Tkachuk forcing his way over from close range to score, Weir adding the extras.
With time up, the Ospreys had one more opportunity to attack, Bowe and Holah linking well before Hook’s final pass inside found Walker and there was no stopping the big Scot as he went over to complete his hat-trick, Biggar’s conversion not enough to secure the Ospreys even a losing bonus point.