Glasgow headed over to sunny Italy for their Hogmanay clash with 11th placed (arch rivals) Treviso having comfortably dispatched Edinburgh last time out. Gregor Townsend was in full ‘Toony Tombola mode’, with a number of changes including a first Warriors start at fly half for Stuart Hogg, who has played more games for the British and Irish Lions at 10 than he has for Glasgow.
Most observers would have had this one down as a comfortable Warriors win, but it was the Italians who drew first blood with only 1 minute on the clock. Some nice hands in midfield saw Luca Sperandio touch down. Tomasso Allan failed with the extras to start what was going to be a fairly torrid day with the boot for the Italian international and former Scotland age-grade player.
This early setback didn’t seem to faze Glasgow, who started to get ball and dominate their opponents but the scoreboard stayed stubbornly bare, due to a number of silly errors and indiscipline from the Warriors pack who were without Jonny Gray for once.
After 15 minutes, Treviso looked comfortable, and with ball in the Warriors 22, they had another chance to score. This time a staggeringly bad decision from Allan to chip the ball through cost his team dearly, as Stuart Hogg took a clean catch at his feet and went the length of the field. A simple conversion and it was game on for Glasgow, 7-5.
Two minutes later, the Warriors doubled their try count, with a decent break from Peter Murchie who sold his winger a nice dummy and a sensational ‘over the head’ pass from Henry Pyrgos leaving Tommy Seymour to stroll in for try number 8 of the season. Hogg again converted making it 14-5 Warriors.
Adam Ashe had been given his first start of the season, and it was definitely a mixed bag for the back row. A trademark thundering carry including a piston like hand off saw him crash over for the Warriors third try which was converted from out wide by Hogg. His next involvement in the game also resulted in a try, this time for Treviso. A wild pass, nominally to Peter Murchie, in the Glasgow dead ball area which Murchie then failed to touch down due to slipping, saw Dean Budd sneak the score. This is one that will make its way onto blooper reels for years to come, but no one in the Glasgow side or coaching bench would have been laughing.
Allan converted, and added another penalty before halftime to leave it a 6-point game.
HT Treviso 15 – 21 Glasgow
Treviso again came out all guns blazing in the second 40, with Allan at the heart of their play. He did miss another penalty on 43 minutes, although those of a Glasgow persuasion were starting to question some of the refereeing decisions from Elia Rizzo. The Italian (umm) was a late replacement for Ben Whitehouse and yet again leaves the Pro 12 in a situation where teams can legitimately complain about potential bias. It’s staggering from a professional league and Rizzo definitely didn’t do the situation any favours with an 11-3 penalty count in favour of the home side.
On the 50-minute mark, Allan brought his team within 3 with a success from the tee, but this was short lived, as Nick Grigg quickly secured the try bonus point for Glasgow with a 10 metre crash ball that saw him bounce 4 Treviso defenders away from his stocky frame. Solid play from the centre who looked like a safe pair of hands all day. Another two points from the tee from Hogg, and Glasgow surely had this sewn up with a 10-point lead heading into ‘Warrior Time’ with 25 minutes to play?
Treviso had other ideas, and an Ian McKinley penalty brought the score to 28-21, before another failure from the tee seemed like it had let Glasgow off the hook. The ball smacked the post, and was recovered by the Warriors, but the referee saw a knock on (that still isn’t clear to me having watched the footage numerous times). A big scrum from Treviso saw advantage called, then a quick tap when the penalty was given saw Budd get his second try. An easy conversion and the game was all square with only 5 minutes remaining.
If truth be told Glasgow did not wholly deserve to win this, with Treviso dominating the second 40, but Rory Clegg ensured that the Glasgow side would return home with all 5 points desired when he dotted down from easily the best worked move of the day. Seymour was heavily involved, and a hint of double movement was ignored by the officials. Hogg completed his 100% from the tee with another sweet strike from wide left and Warriors played out the game to the relief of all involved.
The key from this one was 5 points, and in the end the performance will not matter so much. The losing bonus point for Treviso mght not do Edinburgh any favours but Glasgow should consider it a job well done. Many internationals got the rest game required, Hogg showed that he can play 10, and the game was won when it so easily could have gone the other way. All in all, that will do although we will need so much more in the crucial fixtures to come.
Man of the Match: First start at 10, first Man of the Match at 10 for Stuart Hogg, who kicked well from both hand and tee, and distributed the ball well. It wasn’t perfect, and at times you can see there was a bit of ‘play by numbers’ that we don’t usual get from him at 15 when he makes up his own plans, but overall he proved himself a very viable option in the position as backup. Other mentions go to Nick Grigg, who carried hard and defended well, and Tommy Seymour, who is just playing with such class just now.
Benetton Treviso: Luke McLean, Angelo Esposito, Tommaso Benvenuti, Luca Morisi, Luca Sperandio, Tommaso Allan, Giorgio Bronzini; Marco Barbini, Abraham Steyn, Robert Barbieri, Dean Budd, Marco Fuser, Matthew Zanusso, Davide Giazzon, Alberto De Marchi.
Replacements: Roberto Santamaria, Federico Zani, Titian Pasquali, Teofilo Paulo, Marco Lazzaroni, Edoardo Gori, Ian McKinley, Tommaso Iannone.
Glasgow Warriors: Peter Murchie, Junior Bulumakau, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Tommy Seymour, Stuart Hogg, Henry Pyrgos; Gordon Reid, Pat MacArthur, D’arcy Rae, Tim Swinson, Brian Alainu’uese, Adam Ashe, Chris Fusaro, Ryan Wilson.
Replacements: Corey Flynn, Alex Allan, Zander Fagerson, Rob Harley, Simone Favaro, Nemia Kenatale, Rory Clegg, Sean Lamont.
Referee: Elia Rizzo (ITA)