Benetton v Glasgow: Warriors are well off the pace in URC opener

Italian team stroll to a bonus-point victory as visitors display familiar failings

Franco Smith
Glasgow coach Franco Smith. Image: © Craig Watson. www.craigwatson.co.uk

Benetton 33

Glasgow Warriors 11

IT’S the hope that kills you, as they say.  After the calamitous conclusion to last season, the arrival of a new coach and the advent of a new URC campaign was enough to foster some sort of feeling of optimism about the Warriors. But in the event, they began more or less as they had left off in the spring, with a lacklustre, disjointed display against Benetton.

After a pre-season in which they had planned to play Worcester and Ulster in warm-ups but in the end only played against the Ayrshire Bulls, an element of rustiness was perhaps inevitable in Glasgow’s play. But the lack of punch and panache was not so predictable, and the dearth of those qualities was the most worrying aspect of the evening. 

“There is still some of the pre-season sitting in their legs,” head coach Franco Smith said after his competitive debut had ended in a four-tries-to-one defeat in the Stadio Monigo in Treviso.  “We did not have the opportunity to get rid of the cobwebs in a friendly. We can simulate against ourselves as much as we want – unfortunately it’s not games played. 


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“I’m trying not to use this as an excuse. But there’s a reason why warm-up games are played, especially when there is a new coach.

“In the first half of the game they reverted to old habits. It was better in the second half.  We can improve a lot now that we have had a game and I know the players.”

Smith’s side did enjoy one all-too-brief purple patch in the second half, when substitute Zander Fagerson barged through the defence for a try and Sebastian Cancelliere almost added the second after a kick and chase. But by that time, Benetton were well on top – and well on the way to the bonus point which they eventually secured with the last play of the game.

Glasgow had been forced into a change a few hours before kick-off when hooker Fraser Brown failed a fitness test because of illness. Johnny Matthews replaced him in the front row, while George Turner was drafted on to the bench. However, that alteration in no way accounted for the lacklustre way in which they went on to play.

Rhyno Smith and George Horne exchanged penalties early on, then with 25 minutes gone a fumble by the Warriors led to Benetton’s first try. Winger Edoardo Padovani finished off on the right after a long pass from Giacomo Da Re, whose conversion attempt hit a post. 

Benetton stretched their lead through an unconverted Gianmarco Lucchesi try from a lineout drive, but in time added on, Horne knocked over a second penalty from in front of the posts to give the Warriors a glimmer of hope going into the second half.  

A few minutes after the restart, however, Benetton struck again, with Ignacio Mendy getting their third try after a break up the blindside. Smith added the two points this time to take his team’s tally to 20, then was on target with two more penalties to take the lead beyond two full scores.

Glasgow needed to hit back quickly to have any chance of a comeback, and right on the hour mark Fagerson bulldozed his way over to score. Tom Jordan’s conversion attempt was just wide.

 

Former Edinburgh and Scotland scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne came off the bench for his Benetton debut as the Italian team rang the changes and slowed play down. Warriors winger Cancelliere briefly sped things up with two kicks ahead, but the second carried too far and went over the dead-ball line before he could touch it down.

Mendy made no such mistake in the last minute, booting on a loose ball and touching down unopposed to secure the bonus point for his team. Smith converted to complete a miserable evening for the visitors.

Smith said a couple of weeks after taking over that he wished Scotstoun opened earlier so he could start training sooner. But he insisted last night that none of the players had been overworked. 

 “Absolutely not. It is impossible to overwork players at the beginning of the season. 

“We are at the beginning of the process. I’m not a magician.”

 

Teams –

Benetton: R Smith; E Padovani, I Brex, J Riera (I Mendy 57), I Mendy (M Zanon 47); G da Re, D Duvenage (captain, S Hidalgo-Clyne 66); I Nemer (F Zani 61) G Lucchesi (G Nicotera 61), S Ferrari (T Pasquali 61), S Scrafton (N Cannone 64), F Ruzza, G Pettinelli, M Zuliani (M Lamaro 51), L Cannone (T Halafihi 60).

Glasgow Warriors: C Forbes; S Cancelliere, S Tuipulotu, S McDowall, K Steyn (captain); T Jordan (D Weir 74), G Horne (A Price 53); J Bhatti (O Kebble 46), J Matthews (G Turner 46), L Sordoni (Z Fagerson 46), L Bean (S Cummings 46), R Gray, S Manjezi (R Darge 58), M Fagerson (T Gordon 74), J Dempsey.

Referee: F Murphy (Ireland).

 

Scorers –

Benetton: Tries: Padovani, Lucchesi, Mendy 2; Cons: Smith 2; Pens: Smith 3.

Glasgow: Try: Z Fagerson; Pens: Horne 2.

Scoring sequence (Benetton first): 3-0; 3-3; 8-3; 13-3; 13-6 (h-t) 18-6; 20-6; 23-6; 26-6; 26-11; 33-11. 

 

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About Stuart Bathgate 1182 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.

17 Comments

  1. “We are at the beginning of the process. I’m not a magician.”

    Should the SRU have employed the Magic Circle as consultants in the recruitment process?

    Joking aside, I hope a home game and the return of more players from the summer tour to the starting XV can offer a boost.

  2. Not sure why anyone is surprised at this display. Entirely in keeping with Smith performances in his last two coaching roles. There were massive turnarounds after he left those two roles….

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  3. For those that did not see this coming. There’s none so blind that cannot see.
    Too much loyalty to the has beens especially players and also coaches plucked from playing and expecting them to perform
    at the highest level without having served any formal coaching apprenticeship.
    This starts at the top. This is the first step to emptying Scotstoun and ultimately Murrayfield if the present SRU management continue with a jobs for the boys policy. I hope I’m wrong but the writing’s on the wall.

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    • Agree with the exception of emptying Murrayfield. 3 of the 4 coaches under Smith have no or very little senior pro coaching the other has some with Connacht. It is unreasonable to expect them to hit the ground running, they need help/support etc. My concern is how do we end up with 3 from 4 at this level. This raises questions about the overall management of Warriors ie if Murrayfield tells Kellock this what you are getting what does he do challenging it or just roll over. What really irritated me again was the abject lack of on field leadership.

  4. Not a great display from Glasgow, they looked both very rusty , which is to be expected and very similar to last season which was not to be expected. Someone in the commentary I was listening to said he thought the wingers were doing most of the contact work while the big lump forwards stood out wider doing nothing, which I think might be true, the wings and centers seem to have difficulty finding space and Tuipulotu is very guilty of this. I was not impressed by the new guys nor Jordan.
    Next week becomes very important to get the season back on line.

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    • Never mind the Saffers, just watched Edinburgh score 7 tries – they must be looking forward to playing Warriors

      • As an Edinburgh guy, I’d be wary of taking Glasgow for granted after one game in, away from home with little to no game time preparation, this was always a tough assignment. Edinburgh clearly benefited from a couple of games under their belt, even if they lost both, before starting their league business. Glasgow will get better and be competitive.

  5. Ramblings…
    2nd best throughout
    As stated above basics
    Funny leaving the stronger front row / SH on bench
    Nanjazi really struggled as did Cancelliere and Horne
    Dempsey made yards, subs improved things but game was gone.

  6. Glasgow were a disgrace and for guys like John Barclay to suggest tiredness as an excuse was pathetic. That’s the difference between the likes of Scotland and Ireland. At least glad that the coach didn’t try and excuse the result. Some guys also just not good enough. What has stafford McDowell ever done? Nothing! And Tuipulotu is mediocre. What has Richie Gray done since his return, no leadership and seems to dial it in, just picking glasgows pocket! This is also a reminder that experience is irrelevant if players are simply not good enough. This Glasgow side will finish bottom of that league or 1 off it. The toys will also come out the pram from the players to as they try and blame the coach later in the season.

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    • Alas agree, McDowall has occasionally looked as if he was a player but has disappointed/been injured for years. Tuipulotu has flattered to deceive and apart from having an endearing back story seems to offer little

    • Agree
      McDowell offers nothing in attack ,Horne going backwards would give Jordan plenty more game time could be potential there. Starting front five far to soft embarrassing, hopefully smith wont tolerate this kind performance again.

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  7. The rustiness was to be expected, the lethargy I’m not so sure.
    Next Friday with Cardiff at home already looking like a big game in so many ways…..

  8. New head coach. Rest of coaching stand and squad minimal change.Smith has to quickly discover which of the staff and players are up for a dogfight or supporters face another wasted, disappointing season of underperformance.

  9. A very poor start to the season. Sloppy, disjointed and error strewn. Apart from a spell in the 2nd half when the game was lost they were 2nd best. Benetton when they are at full strength are a really stuffy side and they just did the basics better than Glasgow and had a much more abrasive edge to their play. Not sure it was a wise choice to leave so many of our starting forwards on the bench. When they did come on we looked a lot stronger but it was too late by then. They will need to improve big time or this could be a tough season.

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