Glasgow Warriors 26-12 Benetton
Glasgow Warriors once again showed their ability to mix physical defence with clinical attack, earning a bonus-point 26-12 victory over Benetton at Scotstoun to go joint top of the BKT United Rugby Championship standings.
Tries from Josh McKay, Kyle Rowe, Sebastian Cancelliere and George Horne saw the Warriors inflict a first defeat of the season on the Italian side, as Franco Smith’s men made it back-to-back bonus-point victories in the league.
On a night that redefined dreich, it was the visitors that opened the scoring under the Scotstoun floodlights. A first sustained spell of possession from the Italians resulted in Glasgow being penalised for not rolling away, Tomos Albornoz slotting the resulting kick from 25 metres to give his side the lead after six minutes.
Albornoz would double Benetton’s lead just three minutes later, but the early kicking battle was being edged by the Warriors. It was from one such kick, a low, skidding 50-22 from Stafford McDowall, that the game’s opening try would arrive. Some slick handling from a first-phase move off the resulting lineout saw Tom Jordan make a half-break, the fly-half’s offload landing in the arms of McKay to send the full-back racing over. George Horne converted, and Glasgow led 7-6.
Keen to keep their foot on the accelerator, Glasgow’s second try duly followed just four minutes later. The dancing feet of Cancelliere would do the damage, the Argentinian cutting inside and beating three defenders for sheer speed to race into open space. Faced with the last defender, it was a simple task to put Rowe under the posts for his first competitive try at Scotstoun, Horne once again adding the extras for a 14-6 lead after 20 minutes.
Another penalty from Albornoz would almost immediately narrow the gap to 14-9, before the visitors would enjoy a 10-minute spell with a man advantage after McKay was shown a yellow card for a high tackle on Sebastian Negri. Yet the Warriors would hold firm, a huge effort from Sintu Manjezi at the defensive lineout winning a turnover for his side on their own five-metre line.
A last-gasp try-saving tackle from Cancelliere on Marcus Watson would keep the score at 14-9 in favour of the hosts at the interval, yet the visitors would start the second half on the front foot as they sought to level the scores. Thomas Gordon would become the second Warrior sent to the sin bin for a professional foul under his own posts, only for Matt Fagerson’s superb tackle to force the knock-on from Marco Zanon as he reached for the try-line.
Instead, a piece of lightning-quick thinking would raise the Scotstoun roof. From a Benetton pass into touch, Cancelliere’s quick lineout caught everyone in the visiting defence napping, McKay’s deft hands putting Horne into open prairie. The scrum-half’s scoring pass back to Cancelliere was timed to perfection, as the Argentinian flyer dived over in front of the East Stand for a 19-9 lead on 55 minutes.
A fourth penalty of the night for Benetton – this time kicked by replacement Jacob Umaga – would narrow the gap to 19-12, as the wind began to play havoc with covering defenders as the game entered its final quarter. Once more, though, the Warriors would stand up to be counted. McDowall would lead from the front, a lung-busting charge taking the centre deep into the 22 from which position his side would take full advantage. Sean Kennedy’s wide pass would find McKay, whose looping pass was perfectly weighted to land in the arms of Horne, playing on the wing due to a HIA for Cancelliere. Over went the Howe of Fife product, converting his own score for good measure to take the scores to 26-12 in Glasgow’s favour as the game approached the final 10 minutes.
One final onslaught would come from the Italian outfit, but once again they would find their efforts repelled by a wall of Glasgow defenders. The final whistle would herald a roar of approval from those inside Scotstoun, their team securing another maximum haul to keep pace at the top of the table – next up, the challenge of Ulster.