Nakarawa helps Glasgow to rout over Sharks but will it make a difference for the season?
Leone Nakarawa scored and was sin-binned on his Glasgow return as the Warriors temporarily kept their Champions Cup hopes alive following a dominant 45-7 triumph over Sale at the AJ Bell Stadium.
The Warriors dominated the opening period and deservedly went into the break 21-0 in front thanks to Nakarawa, Fraser Brown and DTH van der Merwe tries.
Sam Johnson then crossed the whitewash to seal the bonus-point before Jake Cooper-Woolley went over for Sale.
The success moves them into the final best-placed runners-up spot but Dave Rennie’s men will need for both Saracens and Gloucester not to win on Sunday if they are to reach the quarter-finals.
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Having seen the Sharks field a weakened team, the Scotsmen started on the front foot and put their inexperienced opponents under duress.
They consistently got quick ball and it was not long until the Warriors had scored their first try when Van der Merwe broke down the left. Although the wing was hauled down, Nakarawa was on hand to score and provide the visitors with the lead.
Half-backs Ali Price and Hastings were dictating proceedings superbly and Sale were unable to cope. That pressure soon resulted in a yellow card as Jono Ross was sin-binned for leading with the forearm before it soon became a 14-point buffer.
Glasgow set up a maul, charged towards the line and the hosts failed to prevent Brown from crossing the whitewash.
The Sharks attempted to get back into the encounter, taking advantage of some Warriors ill-discipline to move into the away side’s 22, but the Scotsmen were stout in defence.
Rennie’s charges forced the English outfit into errors while the PRO14 team were clinical in attack and good hands allowed Van der Merwe to charge over the line.
Although Nakarawa was sin-binned for a series of team indiscretions, Sale were not able to capitalise and instead the visitors added to their score with the bonus-point try early in the second half. Price benefited from some further slack defence by the hosts to take a quick tap penalty and Johnson eventually touched down.
The game was over at that point but the home side responded with a well-worked effort. It started with Denny Solomona’s break down the right touchline and, despite being taken down short of the whitewash, Cooper-Woolley rewarded the wing’s good work by going over. Tom Curtis added the extras.
DoR Chris Boyd was delighted with Northampton’s fightback against Lyon as they kept alive their hopes of reaching the Champions Cup quarter-finals today. https://t.co/l18dso2zYd
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 18, 2020
There was still a huge gulf in quality in the respective teams, however, and after Hastings had extended Glasgow’s lead with a three-pointer, Gray and Turner touched down – the second a superb individual effort – to rubber-stamp a much-needed victory.
Unfortunately for Glasgow, other results could still mean they’re consigned to a pool-stages exit from this season’s Champions Cup.
With Exeter dominating Pool B, Glasgow’s only hope of qualification is to finish as one of the top three second-placed sides. They now sit third on that ranking (17 points) behind Northampton (19 points) and Ulster (21 points) while both Gloucester and Saracens can overtake them with wins from their final games.
The PRO14 could now prove Glasgow’s only shot at silverware this year.
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