Glasgow named a strong side for the visit of Italian basement boys Treviso, with Gregor Townsend no doubt determined to get his side’s confidence back after the previous weeks battering from Munster. Seymour and Horne returned to action and waiting on the bench for debut were giant lock Brian Alainu’uese and back row powerhouse Langilangi Haupeakui.
Glasgow started well, with Stuart Hogg racing over the try line after only 90 seconds following a lovely chip and chase. Hogg dived over, but managed to lose the ball forward, to the frustration of the Scotstoun crowd. Apologies all round from the Scotland full back and he was at it just two minutes later, crossing the whitewash again only to be called back by referee David Wilkinson who disapproved of a quick lineout throw from the home side. On this superstitious weekend, Glasgow and Hogg could be forgiven for thinking it might not be their night.
Jonny Gray was one of the few Glasgow players to come out of the Munster game with any credit, and it was the young co-captain who got the scoreboard moving. With eight minutes gone, some nice positioning in contact and brute strength from Gray saw him dot down, with Russell adding the extras. Glasgow were more than good for their 7-0 lead.
It really was all Glasgow at this stage and Mark Bennett added another score on 12 minutes, a searing break taking him away from three would-be tacklers. Bennett looked lively all evening and looks to be playing himself back into form after his sevens exploits in Rio. Finn Russell couldn’t add the conversion from out wide, but at 12-0 the only real question to be answered was – how many?
Treviso gave Glasgow problems in this fixture last year, but it was totally against the run of play that the Italians got on the board this time. A hack through saw Alex Dunbar tackle the Treviso player off the ball, which prevented a certain try. Yellow for Dunbar, a penalty try given by Wilkinson and Treviso were right back in business at 12-7. In hindsight this was probably the right decision from Wilkinson, but more on him later.
Glasgow with 14 men still looked very dangerous, and it was no surprise that they scored next. A set play on the Treviso 22 was executed beautifully by Rory Hughes at pace. The big Castlemilk winger is a real handful, combining decent pace with bulk and a sensational work ethic and is bang in form. Russell converted from in front of the sticks to restore the 12 point lead at 19-7.
Glasgow continued to dominate the play and Dunbar, fresh from his stint on the naughty step, scored the bonus point try right before half time. Like Gray earlier, the centre showed immense strength to shake off three tackles to cross the line. Wilkinson did his best to find a reason to chalk it off but Glasgow had the bonus and a healthy half time lead to build on.
HT Glasgow 26 – 7 Treviso
With the bonus in the bag, Glasgow supporters would have been expecting their team to kick on and build a healthy points margin against the team with the worst defensive record in the Pro12 this season. Hughes was in the mood for more too, and another well worked effort got him over the line for his double. Russell missed the conversion, and Townsend used the opportunity to ring some changes, getting Alainu’uese and Haupeakui on and resting Russell and Pyrgos all before the hour mark.
Haupeakui has arrived with a reputation for big hits, big carries and plenty of yellow cards, and we got the full package in his memorable debut. The big USA international got his first yellow after just seven minutes on the park, with Wilkinson suggesting he had failed to wrap his arms during a thunderous hit in midfield. I would suggest this was really harsh, and fully expect that every time Dan Lydiate performs his remarkably similar trademark chop tackle he will now be cautioned. Not a chance.
Treviso used their own numerical advantage well, with a textbook rolling maul crushing the Glasgow defence and giving them another 5 points. Tommy Allan added the extras, and Treviso were finally able to exert some pressure on their hosts but by this point the scoreboard and clock were both against them at 31-14 with 15 minutes left.
Wilkinson had been frustratingly inconsistent, punishing minor infractions, threatening red cards to players and ignoring four red zone penalties by Treviso in the same amount of minutes. He did manage to achieve some level of consistency though with Haupeakui given a second yellow, for another ‘no arms’ hit. This decision was even worse than the first, and I can’t help but feel that Wilkinson may have had a preconception about the American backrow. It was, however, the first time I have seen a crowd cheer and give a great reception to a player who had been sent off, and from the short spell on the pitch I can really see Haupeakui becoming a big hit with the Scotstoun crowd.
More worrying for the Glasgow and Scotland management was the head knock that the returning Pete Horne took in the middle of the incident. Fingers crossed it is not a bad one as he’s one of a number of key Scotland squad players despearately short of match fitness.
So 5 league points, a decent first half, a terrible second and some memorable debuts. The Warriors will have their work cut out over the international period but the depth in the squad is excellent and I look forward to seeing some of the new faces get some more game time.
SRBlog Man of the Match: The sponsor’s award went to Rory Hughes and no complaints from me on that one. The big winger was everywhere, showing power, pace and determination in every carry. The heir apparent to the Sean Lamont School of Bosh. Honourable mentions to Simone Favaro, who was in some mess when he came off, and Jonny Gray, who continues to be consistently spectacular, without attracting any of the real plaudits that should be coming his way.
Glasgow Warriors: Hogg, Seymour, Bennett, Dunbar, Hughes, Russell, Pyrgos, Allan, MacArthur, Puafisi, Swinson, Gray, Strauss, Favaro, Wilson.
Replacements: Jones for Hughes (55), Horne for Russell (59), Price for Pyrgos (59), Sears-Duru for Allan (70), Malcolm for MacArthur (51), Rae for Puafisi (51), Alainu’uese for Swinson (51), Haupeakui for Favaro (55).
Sin Bin: Dunbar (23), Haupeakui (62).
Sent Off: Haupeakui (78).
Benetton Treviso: Hayward, Odiete, Iannone, Sgarbi, Pratichetti, McKinley, Tebaldi, Quaglio, Bigi, Ferrari, Gerosa, Fuser, Budd, Zanni, Steyn.
Replacements: Esposito for Pratichetti (55), Allan for McKinley (51), Gori for Tebaldi (59), Zani for Quaglio (59), Giazzon for Bigi (51), Pasquali for Ferrari (59), Barbini for Zanni (41), Minto for Steyn (70).