Match Preview | Benetton
Glasgow Warriors open their 2021 Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup campaign this Saturday, as Danny Wilson’s squad travels to Treviso to take on Benetton at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo.
The new competition will see the Warriors play a minimum of five matches over the next two months, with a double-header against Edinburgh following Saturday afternoon’s clash in addition to two matches still to be confirmed.
Three new experimental law variations will also be utilised during the upcoming competition; namely, red-card replacements, the Captain’s Challenge and goal-line drop-outs.
Wilson’s men hold the upper hand in the head-to-head record between the two teams, but with a squad packed full of Italian internationals there will be no underestimating Benetton when the whistle blows for kick-off on Saturday.
Here’s how the hosts shape up ahead of the match:
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Benetton form guide
Kieran Crowley’s squad endured a difficult 2020/21 Guinness PRO14 campaign, finishing bottom of Conference B without a victory to their name.
Indeed, were it not for their cancelled fixture with Edinburgh being designated as a draw, the Italians would have finished with a 100% losing record from their 16 fixtures.
However, throughout the campaign Benetton refused to roll over; their performances earned them seven bonus points across the season, and ran finalists Leinster and Munster close in their meetings with the respective provinces.
They also claimed an attacking bonus-point on their most recent visit to Scotstoun, showing exactly the kind of clinical attacking that can cause problems for any team in the competition.
Benetton saw a raft of experienced players depart over the summer months, with Italian international full-back Jayden Hayward set to be the latest experienced departure when he says farewell to the club at the end of the Rainbow Cup.
Marco Fuser moved to English side Newcastle Falcons at the outset of the 2020/21 campaign, whilst scrum-half Tito Tebaldi left to join Petrarca Padova in the Italian Top12.
Glasgow fans will already know that Ian Keatley agreed a short-term deal with the Warriors after leaving Benetton at the start of 2021, with Italian fly-half Antonio RIzzi having also left to join Zebre.
Crowley and his coaching team are already looking to the 2021/22 season, with former Cheetahs full-back Rhyno Smith an exciting addition from the summer of 2021 ahead of the new campaign.
Also arriving this summer will be Argentina international prop Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, who will join from current English Premiership leaders Bristol Bears at the end of the season.
Already making an impact in their first full season with Benetton are Italian international duo Niccolo Cannone and Paolo Garbisi, as well as South African hooker Corniel Els – a try-scorer against Glasgow last month.
Ones to watch
Hailed as Italy’s long-term answer at fly-half, much is expected from Garbisi in the number 10 jersey for club and country. His running game has already seen him cause problems for Guinness Six Nations defences, whilst also possessing a hefty boot when kicking from hand.
Sebastian Negri has consistently impressed on both the domestic and international fronts for the last few seasons, with the Zimbabwe-born back-rower going from strength to strength. His abrasive carrying and dynamic presence around the pitch has made him indispensable to the Treviso-based outfit, and a key component to the Benetton gameplan.
With both Hame Faiva and Corniel Els having displayed impressive try-scoring abilities in the hooker shirt, it’s easy to forget that Gianmarco Lucchesi is another talented option available to Crowley and his coaching team. The 20-year-old made his Italy debut earlier this season, and looks set to make an impact not only for Benetton, but also in the blue shirt of Italy.
You don’t have to go back too far for the most recent meeting between the two sides, with the Warriors having emerged with a 46-25 victory at Scotstoun in a free-flowing fixture last month.
On his comeback from injury, George Horne crossed for one of six tries in an entertaining encounter, with Fotu Lokotui, Nick Grigg, Niko Matawalu, TJ Ioane and Johnny Matthews also crossing the whitewash.
Horne was also on the scoresheet on Glasgow’s last visit to Treviso, running in a brace in a 38-19 win over Benetton in January 2020.
Elder brother Pete, Sam Johnson, Niko Matawalu and Andrew Davidson all also touched down to ultimately secure all five points for the visitors in a hard-fought win over their hosts.
Marius Mitrea will make his own bit of history on Saturday afternoon, as he takes charge of his 100th match as a Guinness PRO14 referee.
Gianluca Gnecchi and Matteo Liperini will be his assistants, whilst Stefano Penne will be on hand as Television Match Official.
The match is live on Premier Sports 2 this Saturday, with kick-off scheduled for 1pm.
You can also follow all the build-up and action in our Live Match Centre – simply head to glasgowwarriors.org and keep up with everything as it happens.