Glasgow Warriors fell to defeat in the opening match of their 2022/23 BKT United Rugby Championship campaign in Treviso this evening, with Benetton running in four tries to claim a 33-11 victory.

Zander Fagerson’s second-half try was not enough to spark a fightback in northern Italy, as the home side claimed a bonus-point to claim the full set of spoils under the floodlights.

With the Stadio Comunale di Monigo in fine voice at the outset of a new campaign, the opening exchanges were dominated by the boot. Tom Jordan showed some early nice touches with the boot, whilst Cole Forbes’s backfield coverage made it difficult for Bentton to gain field position.

The home side would be the first to trouble the scorers, however, with Rhyno Smith making no mistake from the tee with 12 minutes played after the Warriors were penalised for offside at a lineout on their own 22.

It would be a lead that would last all of three minutes, as the Warriors hit straight back. A powerful carry from Jack Dempsey put Glasgow on the front foot, before Sebastian Cancelliere’s inside line and offload saw George Horne get in behind the defence. When the home side were penalised for not rolling away, it would be Horne himself who would take advantage, knocking over the kick to level the scores at 3-3.

Neither side were really able to establish a rhythm as the opening quarter drew to a close, with errors and the concession of penalties putting paid to the attacks of both teams. Yet the first try of the match – and indeed of the URC season – would go to Benetton; a counter-attack from turnover ball saw the Italian side set up camp in the Glasgow 22, before Giacomo da Re’s floated pass over the top gave Eduardo Padovani a run-in to the corner. The conversion drifted wide, but Benetton led 8-3 after 22 minutes.

Benetton were beginning to earn the upper hand at the scrum, something that would prove to be the catalyst for their second try of the evening. Penalties at successive scrums saw da Re direct his team into the corner, and when the lineout drive came on it would be Gianmarco Lucchesi who would emerge with the ball. Smith’s conversion was pushed wide of the far post, but the home crowd were roaring their approval.

Horne would cut the deficit with the final kick of the half, after a series of thunderous ball-carries inside the Benetton 22. Dempsey, Stafford McDowall and Jamie Bhatti were all to the fore with ball in hand, with Horne’s penalty narrowing the gap to 13-6 at half-time.

The home side would not be deterred, however, and were rewarded for their endeavour with their third try of the night just two minutes into the second half. A set move from a lineout saw Benetton work the blindside to set Ignacio Mendy free on the wing, the Argentina 7s star sprinting away before stepping inside the cover defence for the score. Smith’s conversion made it a two-score game, before extending the lead with a penalty to make it 23-6 after 46 minutes.

Benetton were enjoying the lion’s share of possession and territory, a monopoly that Smith took full advantage of with his third successful penalty of the evening on 56 minutes.

The Warriors needed a response, and with the coaching team rolling out the replacements, momentum began to shift. A strong carry from McDowall in midfield put Kyle Steyn through a gap, with Benetton conceding the penalty at the breakdown. Electing to go to the corner, the Glasgow maul was initially stopped short, only for Ali Price to find Zander Fagerson on the short ball. The tight-head proved far too powerful for the covering defence, crashing over for the score to bring Glasgow back into proceedings.

With the wind in their sails, Smith’s men began to play from deep. Sione Tuipulotu’s footwork and offloading put first Cole Forbes, then McDowall through holes in the defensive line, with Price keeping the tempo high as he put his forward on the front foot.

A second try felt like it was coming, and no-one came closer than Sebastian Cancelliere with seven minutes to play. A Rory Darge turnover saw the winger thump the ball downfield and win the foot race, only for the ball to trickle agonisingly over the dead-ball line before it could be grounded.

Instead, the final word would belong to Benetton. The breakdown of a Glasgow attack on halfway saw Mendy get a boot to the ball first, with the winger winning his own race to regather and touch down. Smith’s conversion took the final score to 33-11, much to the delight of the home supporters.

Plenty of work to do, then, for the Warriors – a seven-day turnaround awaits, as Smith and company welcome Cardiff to Scotstoun for their home opener next weekend.


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