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Glasgow gain swift revenge; GLASGOW 47 CARDIFF 32.

Byline: Simon Thomas

WHAT a difference a week makes.

As turnarounds go, this ranks right up there with the most remarkable in Heineken Cup history.

It wasn't as extreme in terms of points as back in 1998 when Ebbw Vale lost 108-16 out in Toulouse and then beat the French side 19-11 in the return match at Eugene Cross Park two months later.

But it was just as unexpected and just as dramatic in terms of the change in the balance of power.

And, moreover, this time it's happened in the space of just eight days.

That's how long it's taken for these two sides to completely reverse roles.

The try count may have been equal yesterday, with both teams touching down four times.

But that was no adequate reflection on the game, with three of Cardiff's tries coming after it was effectively over as a contest.

The truth is that the Blue & Blacks were comprehensively outplayed and should really have lost by a far greater margin.

They conceded a record number of points in the competition and yet they could well have conceded more if Glasgow had fully capitalised on their superiority.

So what went wrong?

How can things have changed so much in a week?

Well to start with, Cardiff didn't have any kind of platform.

Their old achilles heal returned to plague them, as they lost six lineouts on their own throw.

They were equally poor at the restarts, while their ball retention was shocking.

Time and again, they turned over possession in contact and they were overwhelmed at the tackle area.

They were generally two or three yards off the pace, which led to players being isolated at the rucks where Glasgow were totally dominant.

All these factors together meant that Cardiff hardly had any decent ball all afternoon and spent the vast majority of the game on the back foot.

Given this situation, there was nothing Iestyn Harris could do to save them.

All eyes had been on the former league star following his 31-point masterclass in last week's 46-7 victory over the Scots at the Arms Park.

Wales coach Graham Henry had made the trip north of the border to watch him in action ahead of selecting the team to face Argentina next Saturday.

The Harris factor had also resulted in a media cavalcade heading for Glasgow, with the national press turning out in force.

They've never seen the like at Hughenden before, with the hacks squeezed in like sardines on the oversubscribed press bench.

So, once again, the pressure was on Harris to come up with the goods.

In fairness to the fly-half he did his best, scoring one try with a neat step inside and having a hand in two others, while finishing with a 17-point haul.

But it doesn't matter how talented you are, if you haven't got a platform there's not that much you can do.

And with the Cardiff pack being smashed in front of him, Harris was never going to be able to exert the same influence on the game as last week.

Whether the events of yesterday will have affected his chances of starting against Argentina next Saturday is hard to say.

He did make the odd mistake, missing a couple of tackles and throwing out one loose pass late on which led to Glasgow's final try from Roland Reid.

But there were other much more significant factors behind his team's defeat.

And there were enough positive aspects to Harris' performance to suggest that he is up to the challenge of facing the Pumas.

Sadly, "up to the challenge" is something Cardiff were patently not.

All week the talk had been about the need for a committed and focused performance.

A reinforced Glasgow were always going to be highly motivated following their drubbing at the Arms Park.

Moreover, they are a very different side on their own patch.

Unfortunately, Cardiff are a very different side away from theirs.

Yesterday's defeat means they have now lost 14 of their last 21 games on the road - a sequence that began when they were beaten at Hughenden in the Welsh-Scottish League in September 2000.

Coach Rudy Joubert was at a loss to explain this woeful track record after the game and clearly it is becoming a major problem.

It's all very well being near-invincible at home, but if you can't perform away from home, you're not going to win anything.

And you can now say with some degree of certainty that Cardiff ain't going to win their group, let alone the Heineken Cup.

To finish on top of Pool Five, they would need to win their last two games - at home to Montferrand and away to Northampton in January - and have Montferrand lose at home to Glasgow.

The chances of that happening are slim to say the least.

If truth be told, the writing was on the wall yesterday even before the game got under way.

The Cardiff players had looked nervy walking into the ground and that edginess was swiftly translated onto the pitch.

They found themselves behind within five minutes as Glasgow's flyhalf Tommy Hayes claimed the opening try.

Presented with a free-kick for Rob Howley feeding at a scrum, the hosts moved the ball right with Hayes escaping the clutches of Anthony Sullivan to score.

The Cook Islander added the conversion and a penalty, before Glasgow claimed their second try on 14 minutes.

It came from a Cardiff error, with Rhys Williams spilling a long pass from Harris, enabling wing Rory Kerr to hack ahead and win the race to touch down.

There was less than quarter of an hour gone and the visitors were already 15 points down and playing catch-up.

To be fair, catch up they did before the break, with Andrew Henry crossing on 33 minutes after Harris and Hayes had swopped penalties.

The Kiwi's try stemmed from a rare lineout win, with Craig Quinnell claiming possession and Rob Appleyard busting through in midfield.

Sullivan carried the move on and Harris threw out a long pass to Henry who stretched out of Kerr's tackle to score.

Trailing 18-8 at the interval, Cardiff cut the deficit further with a second Harris penalty.

But Hayes responded in kind, before the outstanding James McLaren scored a killer try on 50 minutes following a sustained passage of play.

A superb individual score from Rhys Williams, who weaved his way home from 60 metres out, gave the visitors some brief hope.

But the boot of Hayes took Glasgow well clear and late tries from Pieter Muller and Harris, either side of one from Reid, were mere consolation.

Hayes ended up going one better than Harris did last week, finishing with 32 points to claim the official Man of the Match award.

So, as expected, it was a fly-half whose surname begins with H who stole the show - just not the right one.

CAPTION(S):

DANGER MAN Glasgow's outside-half Tommy Hayes gave Cardiff a torrid time yesterday, scoring 32 points in his side's 47-32 win at Hughenden. DOWN TO EARTH Lightning didn't strike twice for Iestyn Harris against Glasgow yesterday as the Scots gained handsome revenge for last week's Harrisinspired destruction at the Arms Park, beating Cardiff 47-32 at Hughenden. PICTURE: Press Association
COPYRIGHT 2001 MGN Ltd.
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 
Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 5, 2001
Words:1213
Previous Article:Wales A team to face Pumas.
Next Article:Big win is Turks delight.


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