Zebre Parma 9-40 Glasgow Warriors

Zebre Parma 9-40 Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow Warriors ran in four second-half tries – and six in total – to claim a valuable bonus-point victory in Italy this afternoon, as Franco Smith’s men put Zebre Parma to the sword by 40-9 to move top of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

A brace apiece from Kyle Steyn – in a Player of the Match-winning performance – and Gregor Hiddleston, along with scores from Jamie Dobie and George Horne, secured all five points for the Scotstoun outfit as the race for the playoffs continue.

Under the bright spring sunshine in Parma, it was the home side that made the faster start in front of a vocal crowd at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi. Early pressure and an overthrown lineout saw the Warriors drift off side in midfield, Thomas Dominguez making no mistake from in front of the posts to give his team a 3-0 lead after just six minutes.

Indeed the hosts were galvanised by their early score, with Stafford McDowall having to show his speed of both thought and foot to deny Scott Gregory’s chip and chase from culminating in a try. Dominguez then had the opportunity to add to his own personal tally, only to push a penalty wide of the uprights from just inside the Glasgow half.

With Zebre dominating both possession in territory in the opening quarter, the Warriors defence was receiving a stern workout in the Italian sunshine. The visitors would hold firm, however, as strong defence at the maul and in midfield restricted their hosts – and Dominguez – to a solitary penalty to make it a 6-0 scoreline with 25 minutes on the clock.

Gradually, though, the Warriors were beginning to establish themselves on proceedings. Clever offloading and strong carrying in midfield drew repeated penalties from referee Eoghan Cross, Ross Thompson putting his pack in range of the try-line. Hiddleston would be the beneficiary, the hooker expertly guiding the maul to the whitewash to touch down for the game’s opening try. Thompson added the extras, and Glasgow had the lead.

Whilst Kyle Rowe and McDowall would have to be alive to Zebre’s threat in the wide channels as the half drew to a close, the final word of the opening stanza belonged to the Warriors. Kyle Steyn’s line break took his side into the 22, and whilst Ally Miller was brought down inches short, the concession of a penalty allowed Thompson to direct his pack to the corner once more. The power game proved too much for Zebre to handle, Hiddleston tucking himself away for his – and Glasgow’s – second of the match. Thompson added the extras and Glasgow held a 14-6 lead at the interval.

Dominguez would narrow the deficit to five points with a long-range penalty three minutes after the restart, but the Warriors had their eye on adding to their try tally. On 51 minutes, Franco Smith’s squad did exactly that; a high ball was batted into the arms of Henco Venter, the back-rower immediately shifting the ball wide to Steyn. From halfway, the captain set sail for the try-line, racing clear before cutting inside the last defender and touching down under the posts. The conversion from Thompson made it 21-9, and the visitors were now targeting the four-try bonus-point.

It would arrive with 13 minutes left to play, as the Glasgow back-line clicked into gear in scintillating fashion. A succession of swift passes from Sione Tuipulotu, McDowall and Josh McKay fed Steyn out wide, and with 20 metres left to run there was no stopping the winger as he flew into the corner. Thompson’s conversion attempt was astray for the first time on the afternoon, but the Glasgow lead was now 26-9 as the clock continued to tick down.

The Warriors were now motoring, and crossed for try number five with six minutes remaining. Once more the handling of the back-line proved too hot for Zebre to handle, Tom Jordan finding a gap and breaking through. The replacement drew the last man and found Dobie on his shoulder, the scrum-half – by now deployed on the wing – collecting the pass and cantering over for the score. Thompson made no mistake from in front of the posts, taking the scoreline to 33-9 in Glasgow’s favour.

There was still time for one final flourish from Smith’s side, taking advantage of a tiring Zebre defence to break from deep. Euan Ferrie’s power in the tackle saw the flanker burst into open space, with the ever-reliable Horne on his shoulder to take the offload and race over from 40 metres. One final kick of Thompson’s boot would take Glasgow’s tally to 40, the final whistle sounding soon after to bring the curtain down on a successful afternoon in Parma.

A rest weekend now awaits Glasgow Warriors, yet training will continue at pace – the upcoming South African double-header now looms into view, kicking off with a top-four showdown with the Vodacom Bulls in a fortnight’s time.

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