Following on from the double-headed disaster of the 1872 Cup games, Glasgow travelled to Italy looking for a confidence boost, but left with the bitter taste of defeat lingering in their mouths.
Treviso came out hard, and after Adam Hastings had a “bad Finn” moment and fluffed a floated pass from near his own try-line, lock Dean Budd bustled his way over the try-line.
Glasgow struck back quickly: the swivel-hipped stand-off’s quick tap and go penalty from inside his own half gave Stafford McDowall the opportunity to breenge deep into Treviso’s territory. The returning Sam Johnson eventually made the pressure count, taking George Horne’s pass from a scrum, stepping off his left foot and powering past a couple of defenders to finish. Hastings’ conversion levelled the scores.
What used to be considered a 5-point banker trip to northern Italy is not the forgone conclusion it used to be. Treviso, sitting 3rd in Conference B at the start of play, came again with some adventurous play, and after successive 5m line-out drives Budd again went over. Tommaso Allan, who could’ve played for Scotland don’t you know, missed the extras.
With the tempo set at “allegretto”, both sides were making errors, but the Italian defence was aggressive enough to repel Glasgow’s efforts. Wilson broke the line, but he failed to release Horne-ito (the only Horne in town today, so I’ll just call him Horne from now on). Then Swinson broke free and did manage to feed the speedy scrum-half, but his pass on to Matawalu came off a Treviso hand and Niko couldn’t gather the bobbling ball.
Glasgow were in the ascendency and camped in Treviso’s half with 10 minutes remaining. With an easy 3-pointer on offer for Hastings, Glasgow went to the corner. That line-out came to nothing, but when Treviso again cleared to the line, Glasgow made them pay. Johnson found a couple of forwards in midfield to dance around, and as we’ve seen so often in the last 2 seasons, it was Horne running the support line on his inside shoulder to go in under the posts.
After a shaky start, particularly from Hastings, Glasgow seemed to have found their feet and went into the break with a 2-point lead.
Half-time: Benetton Treviso 12 – 14 Glasgow Warriors
The second half started brightly for Glasgow as Chris Fusaro won a turnover penalty to give Glasgow good field position, but Treviso defended stoutly for close to seven minutes of Glasgow attack until winger Robbie Nairn knocked on.
The home side weren’t to be so profligate with their possession. They showed patience to run through the phases, twenty-one in total, and even when Allan’s pass went too high and slowed momentum with the try-line beckoning, they regained their composure until Number 8 Braam Steyn burst through Ruaridh Jackson’s weak tackle.
Glasgow rang the changes, including Lee Jones replacing the ineffectual Nairn, and he gathered Hastings’ cross-kick to set the Warriors on their way again, but with only 10 metres between them and another 5-points, Hastings’ zipped pass was knocked-on by Wilson. Allan cleared lengthily for the home side, but Johnson again provided the impetus forcing Treviso to concede a penalty which Hastings knocked over to level it up at 17-17 with just over an hour gone.
The magnificently coiffured Hastings was having a see-saw kind of match. He tried another cross-kick to Jones, which was picked off, and then when he recovered the kick ahead, his pass to Johnson went forward to gift Treviso a scrum close to the Glasgow line. He was then pinged for offside, and with advantage to Treviso, Esposito’s failure to gather Hayward’s pass was all that prevented Treviso claiming another try. Treviso’s Allan, who I may have to now refer to as Allan-ito, given that the far larger Alex Allan had come on in the front-row for Glasgow, took the easy option of 3-points.
“Big Allan” was then held-up over the line after some effective grunt work from the Glasgow pack, Cummings proving particularly bullish for the first time in the match. They won a penalty at the scrum and called for another. Horne probed, Wilson and Cummings charged, and space was created out wide. Hastings passed out to Matawalu for what would have been a simple score, but Hastings pass was forward. Again.
He seems to do that quite a lot.
The see-saw was now firmly tipped against him, as if Oli Kebble and Zander Fagerson were on one side, and there was Adam left high and dry with his luscious locks blowing in the wind.
Brandon Thomson replaced him for the final few minutes, but he too had a skinny kid on the see-saw moment. Kickable attempts at goal had previously been turned down, but to try and level the scores, the Warriors went for it. Thomson missed. Ian McKinley kicked the drop-out long and Ashe spilled it. To further compound the misery, Ryan Wilson then stupidly picked the ball up, so rather than a scrum, which Glasgow had started to nudge ahead in, Treviso had a dead-time penalty to seal the deal. McKinley dropped it just short which Jackson claimed, meaning Glasgow had one more chance, but surely they couldn’t?
No. They could not.
Horne spilled the ball forward in the tackle. A run of 40 games unbeaten against Italian opposition was at an end, and a hat-trick of disappointment was completed.
Lacking in defensive intensity, Hastings blowing quite a lot more cold than hot, and with none of the forwards able to bully their opposite numbers or disrupt Treviso ball, this was another poor performance.
Referee: Joy Neville (IRFU)
SR Blog MOTM: Centre Sam Johnson. Took his try brilliantly, fed Horne for his, and was the most threatening of the backs. None of the forwards should be happy with their efforts.