With last weekends defeat to Munster effectively ending the Glasgow season as a competitive affair (1872 Cup leg 2 aside), Gregor Townsend took the opportunity to rotate and rest some of the Scotland internationals that may find themselves otherwise occupied over the summer months.
Leonardo Sarto returned for his first game in 6 months, and Matt Fagerson made his first start at the back of the scrum. Henry Pyrgos and Peter Horne added experience to a young side with Sean Lamont on the bench and George Horne available covering both 9 and 10.
If truth be told, this was a routine win for Glasgow against poor opposition. Even fans favourite David Wilkinson couldn’t influence the outcome, with the home side dominant in all areas of the game aside from a few spirited periods of resistance from the visitors that saw them net a couple of late tries.
The only surprise of the night was that it took 11 minutes for the first try. Pressure in the Zebre 22m saw Nick Grigg pick a good line off Horne, crashing over and dotting down. Grigg had a great night at the office, and should find himself on a plane with Gregor in the summer as a reward for his fine form. Horne converted to make it a 7 point score.
Next up to cross was Peter Murchie, untroubled by any kind of Zebre defence, and shortly after Rob Harley got in on the act, after a quick tap from Prygos. Horne was looking good from the tee, converting both scores.
It said much about the type of game this one was, that the first ‘non exit’ kick from Glasgow arrived after 33 minutes by which point Matt Fagerson had already crashed over to secure the bonus point with his first Glasgow try. Game over, although for Zebre in honesty it had never even begun.
Half-time: Glasgow 28-0 Zebre
Glasgow continued to go through the motions in the 2nd period, with the ‘exhibition’ feel of the game not helped by a number of injury-enforced changes for Zebre.
The Italians at least made the first 20 minutes of the half interesting, putting pressure on the Glasgow line but the defence held firm and it was the home side who scored again, with Sam Johnson, now sans moustache and back to full fitness, stretching a paw over to make it 5 tries. Horne converted, and then exited to be replaced by brother George at standoff. Horne the younger looked comfortable, but I would definitely say his future is at 9.
Matt Smith arrived at 7 to replace Chris Fusaro, and the young flanker decided to get in on the try scoring with two excellent finishes. In between times the Italians finally got themselves on the score board, with a try of their own.
With the final play Zebre got a second score which in normal circumstance would annoy Gregor and the defence team but this one was well done long before that point. A decent send off for some of the departing Warriors in the penultimate Scotstoun fixture of the season.
With Leinster away next week, I would expect another fairly scratch side to be deployed, with the big guns returning for Edinburgh. That would of course depend on results this weekend, which could see the Warriors mathematically still in the hunt.
Full-Time Glasgow 45-10 Zebre
Referee: David Wilkinson (IRU)
SRBlog Man of the Match: Sponsors award went to Nick Grigg (Lee Jones under heavy pressure from the Editor on twitter), and I cannot disagree. The diminutive centre was head and shoulders above every other player in terms of performance if not stature, and continues to increase his reputation in both attack and defence with a style not too dissimilar to a certain Brian O’Driscoll. Another option to add to the stacks of talent at centre internationally. Other mentions for Sam Johnson, Henry Prygos and the whole pack, who had the Italians on toast for the duration.