Glasgow Warriors 38-26 Zebre Parma

Glasgow Warriors 38-26 Zebre Parma

Glasgow Warriors held off a spirited Zebre Parma outfit to claim a 24th successive regular-season victory at Scotstoun, running in six tries to claim a 38-26 victory in front of a capacity crowd to lift the Scottish-Italian Shield.

A brace from Johnny Matthews – to extend his lead in the league’s overall try-scoring charts – and tries from Jamie Bhatti, Kyle Rowe, Sebastian Cancelliere and Tom Jordan would secure the bonus-point win for the Warriors, who now await the remaining results from round 18 ahead to discover their opponent in next weekend’s quarter-final.

Determined to make a fast start in the late spring sunshine, Franco Smith’s squad duly obliged to the delight of a sold-out Scotstoun. Whilst a first attempt at the rolling maul was stifled by the visitors, the second attempt proved unstoppable. Bhatti would be the man to touch down for his first try in a full three years, Weir adding the extras for a 7-0 lead four minutes in.

The Italian side responded with a Giovanni Montemauri penalty with 11 minutes on the clock, fiercely competing across the field. Yet Glasgow responded themselves, Richie Gray making his return felt at the set-piece with two early steals and Sebastian Cancelliere coming within a fingertip of a breakaway score.

Montemauri would narrow the gap to a single point after 24 minutes, only for the Warriors to immediately go on the offensive in midfield. Weir’s flat pass put Gray through the gap in midfield, before Cancelliere’s floated ball fed Kyle Rowe to dive over in the corner. However, the referee and TMO spotted an infringement in the build-up, chalking off the score to the chagrin of the sold-out crowd.

The Warriors weren’t to be denied for long, however. After Sione Tuipulotu was held up over the line with advantage in hand, Weir directed his pack to the corner. Another maul would result in the second try, the familiar figure of Matthews diving over the line for the score. Weir would pull the conversion just wide, leaving the score at 12-6 with seven minutes of the first half remaining.

Jacopo Trulla would bring the visitors back within range with a penalty from inside his own half, before Zebre struck with the final blow of the opening stanza. Some subtle handling sent Montemauri over in the corner, the fly-half capping an impressive personal first half with the touchline conversion to give his side a 16-12 lead at the break.

Stung by the concession, the Warriors set about re-establishing themselves in Zebre territory. Jack Dempsey’s lung-bursting carry and Facundo Cordero’s quicksilver footwork took Smith’s men into the 22, before Tuipulotu barged through the challenge of Trulla. The captain drew the last man and sent Rowe over the whitewash, Weir’s conversion drifting wide to leave it as a one-point game.

It was a lead that lasted all of 90 seconds, as Zebre hit back against the run of play. Bautista Stavile pounced on a loose pass to canter over from the 22, Montemauri converting for a 23-17 lead.

Urged on by the Warrior Nation, though, the home side refused to be cowed. Another Dempsey charge on 58 minutes was followed up by a strong carry from Nathan McBeth, before quick ball allowed Dobie to fling it wide to Cancelliere. Denied twice earlier in proceedings, the winger would not be stopped this time, touching down for a score in front of the East Stand that – allied with George Horne’s conversion – gave the Warriors a 24-23 lead.

Yet once again the visitors would hit straight back, Montemauri nailing a penalty from 45 metres on the angle to take his side back into the lead as the game entered the final quarter. With the Warrior Nation at their back, though, the home side struck with 15 minutes to play. Once more the maul was the lethal weapon, Matthews rumbling over from fully 25 metres for his second and Glasgow’s fifth try of the night. Horne converted, and Glasgow led 31-26.

Whilst Zebre would refuse to go quietly – including a burst for the line from Trulla that required a superb try-saving tackle from Rowe in the corner – the Warrior Nation was now bringing their side home. With 90 seconds remaining, the final flourish arrived to put the seal on proceedings. Jordan was the man to make the crucial incision, the replacement cutting through from Euan Ferrie’s inside ball and reaching out to touch down. The final kick of the match from Horne took the final score to 38-26 in Glasgow’s favour, as the home crowd rose to acclaim a second successive unbeaten season.

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