When Sam Johnson sprinted on to Ali Price’s short pass and charged over for Glasgow’s fourth try of the night against Benetton, in about the millionth minute of added time, he ensured Dave Rennie’s record at Scotstoun remains flawless.
Three fixtures, three wins and three four-try bonus points in front of three sell-out crowds. On paper, this season’s Warriors could literally do no better in front of their home support. Throwing in a couple of away wins makes the picture look better still. They remain a work in progress, however, as this game proved.
There were mitigating factors. Thick rods of rain fell from the skies in the minutes before kick off and kept on pestering players and fans alike throughout the first half. And Benetton – who in the past have often have arrived at Scotstoun looking like a group of men who’d rather give a crocodile a colonoscopy than play a game of rugby – look a much-improved side this season. Kieran Crowley’s team are far from the finished article and lack firepower but they’re no mugs and in fly-half Marty Banks they have a playmaker of genuine quality.
Glasgow started brightly and didn’t take long to forge a lead. Tommy Seymour marked his first home start of the season with his first try of the season. Peter Horne kicked a penalty to touch deep in the Benetton 22, Rob Harley took quick ball off the top of the line out, fed Chris Fusaro, who linked with Henry Pyrgos, whose perfectly-timed pass put Seymour clear. Not a finger was laid on him as he sped under the posts. Horne converted.
Horne and Banks exchanged penalties before another perfectly-timed Pyrgos pass, coming at the end of long sequence of recycled rucks, put Harley in to burst over from close range. Another Horne conversion took the score to 17-3.
At this point, midway through the first half, the time-honoured tradition of Glasgow handing out a good hiding to a visiting Italian team looked set to continue. Glasgow’s high-paced game and willingness to attack from anywhere seemed bound to pay dividends. A promising counter attack from deep was on the brink of becoming very interesting, but Nick Grigg spilled Sam Johnson’s pass under no pressure.
But Benetton fought back. While never threatening to cross the line, they dominated territory and possession in the approach to half time and Banks added two more penalties to reduce the deficit to eight points.
Half time: Glasgow 17-9 Benetton Treviso
If the first half was scrappy, the start of the second half was scrappier still. Knock-ons and scrums punctuated some fairly blunt attacking play although Horne did add another three points with a penalty. Giancarlo Esposito tangled with Ryan Wilson and earned a yellow card for his petulance. The referee’s whistle was a constant feature.
Ali Price replaced Pyrgos and added a bit of zip and he had a part to play in Glasgow’s third try. Horne had a stack of Italian beef in front of him when he collected Price’s pass from the base of a scrum 20 metres from the line but he dodged the lot to touch down before adding a conversion for good measure.
At 27-9 that should have been that but straight from the restart, Benetton took the initiative. Marco Lazzaroni scored from a five metre lineout, then Federico Ruzza cantered through after a sustained period of pressure exhausted Glasgow’s supply of tacklers.
Brandon Thomson, who replaced Horne in the later stages, struck a penalty to settle a few nerves and as the game headed towards full time, the only question was whether Glasgow could claim a fourth try and bonus point. They seemed to have blown it when Benetton successfully halted a driving maul just short of the line and earned a scrum. But in search of a losing bonus point of their own, Treviso opted to keep the ball in play rather than end things in the 80th minute. Glasgow retrieved possession and hammered the visitor’s line with real purpose. Benetton resisted but in the end the pressure told and Johnson, a strong carrier at inside centre all night, clinched the bonus point score.
Glasgow were patchy but carried an attacking threat that Benetton could not match. Harley marked his return from injury with a typically bothersome display, and a couple of good carriers to boot, while Horne, Johnson and Grigg highlighted the depth of Rennie’s options in midfield.
Dave Rennie’s Glasgow may not be as good as they can be – yet – but they are good enough to for every challenge put before them so far this season. Next week sees them take on a challenge of a totally different nature as they head for the High Veldt and their first ever match against the Cheetahs.
Interesting times for the Warrior Nation.