Glasgow moved on to Parma for part 2 of their Italian adventure, having dispatched Treviso last time out. The Zebre side contained soon-to-be Warrior Leonardo Sarto, but the Italian winger seemed to be hell-bent on destroying his future employers’ play off chances. Glasgow were careless in possession from the off, and a slick move from turnover ball saw Sarto crash over after 4 minutes. Carlo Canna knocked over the extras to give the Italians a surprise 7-0 lead.
The Warriors struggled to keep hold of the ball in the first half, in some cases literally dropping the ball unopposed. The first time the Scottish side managed to string together some error free play saw Fraser Brown cross the line from short range, with good carrying from Gray and Dunbar setting the platform. Weir proceeded to add the 2 extras, levelling the scores after 15 minutes.
That man Sarto was soon at it again, with a steal from the kickoff allowing the wing to cut the Glasgow defence to shreds. He was brought down just short and turned over but Weir then made a total hash of his game of kick tennis, knocking on to give the Italians a scrum deep in the Glasgow half. Some excellent handling and lovely lines saw the Italians cross again for a deserved second try. Again Canna added the extras to push the lead back out to 7.
Zebre were just playing smart rugby, making sure they were playing in the right areas. Add to this some ferocious defence, coupled with some shockingly bad decisions from Glasgow, and it is little wonder the Glasgow fans who had made the trip were glad to see their side make it to half time still only 7 behind.
Half-time: Zebre 14 – 7 Glasgow
The second half kicked off, with more scrappy play and handling errors. Taqele Naiyaravoro had been anonymous in the first 40 minutes, which isn’t a surprise to anyone who has watched him recently. The big Aussie/Fijian decided that he might actually play some rugby however, and some big carries brushing off defenders made enough ground for Seymour to be given a chance to score on the other wing. The referee called it back for a forward pass but Glasgow were knocking at the door. Finally Ali Price managed to make the breakthrough, with a lovely step putting the young scrum half diving under the posts. Weir got the extras and at 46 minutes it was 14 points a piece.
From this point on Glasgow became unplayable. Direct running from the excellent Dunbar, coupled with an impressive bit of pace from the ‘Fastest Back in Scottish International History’ saw Glasgow finally take the lead. 3 tries and 28 minutes left – the bonus point was within reach.
Finn Russell replaced Weir immediately after Dunbar’s try, and the replacement was instrumental in the try to bring up the bonus point. A delightful inside ball to Peter Horne, executed perfectly, sent the centre through for the try. It’s the sort of move that Finn Russell pulls off so well and it is excellent to see such creative play from a Scottish 10. An easy conversion gave the Scots a 14 point lead.
Pat MacArthur had came on early for Fraser Brown, and had been quietly effective about the paddock. The hooker however done his best to blot the Glasgow copybook, with a stupid late hit earning him 10 minutes to think about his actions. Glasgow had all the momentum at this stage but a man up, the Italians could sense a chance. The silver lining of MacArthur’s departure was that the scrums had to be uncontested, which nullified these as a source of penalties for the home team. Some solid defence and poor execution saw the 10 minutes come and go without any score, much to the relief of Gregor Townsend.
Naiyaravoro capped off a solid 40 minutes with another blockbuster try, smashing Palazanni aside to touch down on 73 minutes. He was closely followed over the try line by Jerry Yanuyanutawa, who bundled over on 75 minutes. Both scores went unconverted. From the restart on Jerry’s try, Finn Russell gathered and punted long. Zebre, perhaps disheartened that their excellent first half efforts had come to nothing, started throwing the ball around speculatively. Pete Horne was alert to this and took an opportunity to steal ball on halfway. The centre had the legs to get the score, which again went unconverted. Russell really seems to have misplaced his place kicking boots recently and will need to kick better in the crucial games to come.
Overall a good 40 minutes for Glasgow.
10 points from 10 away from home, and with 3 games to play a home playoff within their control. 7 wins in a row but plenty to work on when the team return to sunny Scotland.
SRBlog Man of the Match: Pete Horne got the sponsors award, and I cant disagree with that. The centre was excellent in attack and defence, and just seems to have a knack of scoring important tries. His partner Dunbar wasn’t far off, looking right back to his best. Honourable mentions for Mr T and Ali Price.
K van Zyl; D Berryman, M Pratichetti, G Garcia, L Sarto; C Canna, G Palazzani; A Lovotti, O Fabiani, D Chistolini; Q Geldenhuys, M Bortolami; E Caffini, F Ruzza, G Koegelenberg
Replacements: B Postiglioni, A De Marchi, P Ceccarelli, V Bernabo, F Cristiano, L Burgess, G Bisegni, U Beyers.
G Bryce; T Naiyaravoro, A Dunbar, P Horne, T Seymour; D Weir, A Price; G Reid, F Brown, S Puafisi; L Nakarawa, J Gray (capt); R Harley, S Favaro, R Wilson
Replacements: P MacArthur, J Yanuyanutawa, Z Fagerson, G Peterson, A Ashe, H Pyrgos, F Russell, M Bennett