Glasgow Warriors 46
JOB done and a bit to spare for Glasgow Warriors with this bonus point win in their last match of the PRO14 season, which puts the ball firmly in Dragons’ court in the battle to finish fourth in Conference A.
Danny Wilson‘s side are now looking for Edinburgh to do them a favour by not lying down to Dragons tomorrow afternoon. The Welshmen need to win by 45 points in order to leap-frog their way into that fourth slot. We don’t yet know if that will be enough to qualify for the Champions Cup next season, but warriors would rather be in the frame when the decision is finally made.
Meanwhile, focus for Warriors now turns to next Friday night’s European Challenge Cup last 16 clash away to Montpellier.
“We needed to score tries and get a bonus point win, and rack up some points to help the points difference, so I was pleased with the majority of that,” said Wilson afterwards. “I thought we played with some pace which is important against Benetton – quick tap penalties, things like that worked well for us.
“We conceded a few that were a bit frustrating, but to get a bonus point win and score six tries was a decent enough day.”
Two Ross Thompson penalties – the first after a high tackle on Nick Grigg and the second for chasers in front of the kicker – edged the hosts into an early 6-0 lead, before Benetton’s powerful pack clicked into gear to rumble a close-range line-out home, with hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi getting the downward pressure.
Warriors responded promptly. Thompson sent Ollie Smith through a gap to take play into the visitors 22, but he couldn’t pick out the killer pass, and so the big boys in the pack took over, eventually grinding their way to a try scored by Tongan international Foto Lokotui.
Niccolo Cannone picked up a brainless yellow-card for a cheap-shot tackle on George Horne when play was off, and it took Warriors almost the full 10 minutes but they eventually made the extra man count on the stroke of half-the with a breathless length of the park try.
It was initiated when Lokotui won a penalty pressurising the tackled man 10 yards from is own line, then a classic break from a quick-tap by Niko Matawalu – making his first appearance since the start of December as a replacement for the concussed Tagive – took play over halfway. Tight-head prop Enrique Pieretto appeared on the scene to keep the move going with a spectacular superman dive over his tackler, before Thompson, George Horne and Smith got in on the act. The final offload out of contact from the young full-back didn’t go to hand, but Grigg hacked on and followed up to score under the posts.
It was a great end to the first half for Glasgow, but the second half started badly. Robbie Fergusson managed to snaffle possession near his own line but then Aki Seiuli opted for a loose pass instead of securing the ball. Lee Jones attempted to clear but was charged down, and the ball ricocheted to Riccardo Favretto, who gobbled up the try.
Glasgow’s recurring issue with coughing up penalties was costing them, and it didn’t help that they kept on throwing wild offloads rather than recycling on those occasions when they got their hands on the ball.
Edoardo Padovani reduced it to to a five point game with a penalty from a dropped scrum, and it looked like another second half slump was on the cards, but then Warriors woke up.
They won a scrum penalty, kicked to the corner and then sent Lokotui rampaging off the tail to just short of the line, where Matawalu slipped into the scrum-half role and dived over.
And the bonus point was wrapped up on the hour mark with a well worked move off the back of a scrum which had Thompson wrapping round Grigg and ghosting through a gap in the middle of the park before sending Horne under the kindling.
Benetton hit back with a well worked Marco Zanon try, but Warriors kept their cool, and stretched their lead out again when man-of-the-match TJ Ioane muscled over from close range after some good continuity play.
The visitors kept plugging away and they claimed a four try bonus point when Corniel Els got the ball down off another powerful line-out maul, but Warriors finished with a flourish when replacement hooker Johnny Matthews wriggled over from a quick tap-penalty.
“You can’t play that way against everybody because the looseness can lead to scores down the other end,” concluded Wilson. “But against this opposition it was important to get pace into the game and play fast.
“George helps that, it’s his kind of game, and Niko who hasn’t been available to us for a long time, it suits him as well to try to recognise those opportunities.
“It was a slightly different back-row, but I thought Fotu was outstanding, TJ was outstanding, as was Kiran McDonald who was playing six because we haven’t got anyone else to go into the back–row. Tom Gordon hasn’t been able to train all of last week. We had to patch him up to get him to play against the Dragons, he couldn’t train one day this week, and it was a case of resting his foot as much as possible to get him out there.”
Glasgow Warriors: O Smith; R Tagive (N Matawalu 12), N Grigg, R Fergusson, L Jones; R Thompson (I Keatley 75), G Horne (J Lenac 71); A Seiuli (D Evans 44), F Brown (J Matthews 75), E Pieretto (D Rae 71), R Gray (H Bain 73), J Scott, K McDonald (T Gordon 59), F Lokotui, T Ioane.
Benetton: E Padovani; R Tavuyara, J Riera (T Benvenuti 13), M Zanon, A Esposito; T Allan (J Hayward 59), L Petrozzi (C Trussardi 71); T Gallo (D Appiah 21, M Riccioni 70), G Lucchesi (C Els 55), M Riccioni (I Nemer 53), N Cannone, F Ruzza (E Snyman 60), A Sgarbi, M Zuliani (N Piantella 46), R Favretto (F Ruzza 73).
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Lokotui, Grigg, Matawalu, Horne, Ioane, Matthews; Cons: Thompson 4, Keatley; Pens: Thompson 2.
Benetton: Tries: Lucchesi, Favretto, Zanon, Els; Con: Padovani; Pen: Padovani.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow first): 3-0; 6-0; 6-5; 11-5; 13-5; 18-5; 20-5 (h-t) 20-10; 20-12; 20-15; 25-15; 27-15; 32-15; 34-15; 34-20; 39-20; 39-25; 44-25; 46-25.
Yellow cards –
Benetton: Cannone (28mins)