Glasgow Warriors 50-8 Zebre Parma
Glasgow Warriors capitalised on a dominant performance from the pack to run in eight tries at Scotstoun this evening, as Franco Smith’s men claimed a 50-8 win over Zebre Parma.
A hat-trick – for the second successive year against the Italian outfit – for Johnny Matthews sent the Warriors on their way, with JP du Preez, Stafford McDowall, Josh McKay Thomas Gordon and Fraser Brown also crossing the whitewash.
Whilst the Warriors had their eyes set on getting back on track after defeat in Johannesburg last weekend, it would be the visitors that would make the ideal start. Enrico Lucchin’s line break allowed Zebre to set up camp in the 22, and when referee Chris Busby awarded a penalty a quick tap from Chris Cook would see the scrum-half dart over from close-range. The conversion drifted wide, but Zebre had a 5-0 lead with just two minutes on the clock.
Stung into life, the Warriors would hit back almost immediately. Six minutes of near-constant possession would earn repeat penalties, giving Matthews the chance to repeat his try-scoring feats of last year’s clash with the men from Parma. The hooker expertly steered a maul over the whitewash from 15 metres out, George Horne adding the extra two to give his side the lead after 10 minutes.
Back came Zebre again, as the visitors picked and probed their way into the Glasgow 22. Only a strong cover tackle from Sam Johnson and Ollie Smith would deny Simone Gesi, their double effort earning a roar from the East Stand faithful as they shoved the winger into touch. The visitors would edge their noses back in front once more on 19 minutes, however, as Tiff Eden punished the Warriors for a side entry by hammering over a penalty from 45 metres.
Up front, however, the Warriors were starting to exert their authority. A scrum penalty saw Tom Jordan kick to the corner, with Zebre conceding a further penalty by making contact with du Preez in the air. There was to be no relief from the referee’s whistle at the third attempt, as Matthews trundled his way over at the base of the maul for his second of the night. Horne’s conversion attempt was wayward, but Glasgow had a 12-8 lead after 28 minutes.
Matthews would turn provider just moments later, as the home side crossed for their third score of the evening. An overthrow saw Matthews collect at the tail and set off, bouncing off two defenders before finding du Preez on his shoulder. The big man had more than enough power to hold off the last defender and touch down for his first try in Glasgow colours, Horne shaving the upright with his kick.
As if one hat-trick against Zebre wasn’t enough, Matthews would then complete a remarkable feat as the first half ticked into overtime. Once more the maul would do the job, with Matthews having the presence of mind to reach out and dot down for his third – and Glasgow’s fourth – of the match. Horne added the extras, giving the Warriors a 24-8 half-time lead.
Having seen the forwards steal the headlines in the first half, the Glasgow back-line would get in on the action on 48 minutes – with a little help from their friends up front. Scott Cummings’ chargedown would fall kindly for Rory Darge, who would send Horne off in search of the try-line. Whilst the scrum-half would be felled by Gesi, his offload would find McDowall on his shoulder, the captain diving over in front of the East Stand for the score. Horne added the extras, taking the score to 31-8 in the home side’s favour.
The Warriors were continuing to dominate proceedings up front, Sione Vailanu and Darge leading the barrage of carries from the Glasgow pack. With Marco Manfredi in the sin-bin as a result of repeat infringements by the visitors, Glasgow struck for a sixth; slick handling from Horne and Sam Johnson allowed Duncan Weir to put Josh McKay over untouched, Horne converting for a 38-8 lead after 59 minutes.
With the game breaking up as replacements entered the fray, the final quarter was a stop-start affair. That didn’t stop the Warriors from padding their lead, however, crossing for try number seven with eight minutes to play. Jamie Dobie’s wide pass sent Vailanu tearing through a gap, the Tongan drawing the full-back before sending Thomas Gordon over under the posts. Weir converted, taking the score to 45-8 in favour of the hosts.
There would still be time for one final try for those of a Glasgow persuasion to cheer, and once more the maul would be the catalyst for Franco Smith’s men. This time it would be Brown who would be the beneficiary, the Scotland man piling over for the eighth try of the night. The conversion would drift wide, but a half-century of points would send the Warrior Nation home satisfied.
A 10-day break now awaits the Warriors, before the final push for the playoffs begins. With fellow home quarter-final-chasers Munster next on the agenda, the big fixtures don’t stop coming for Smith’s men.