Glasgow v Benetton: Warriors demonstrate the art of winning ugly

Gritty victory sees Danny Wilson's side climb to second in United Rugby Championship table for the time being

Man-of-the-Match Ollie Smith scored Glasgow's opening try. Image: © Craig Watson -
Man-of-the-Match Ollie Smith scored Glasgow's opening try. Image: © Craig Watson -

Glasgow Warriors 13

Benetton 3

DAVID BARNES @ Scotstoun

IT won’t be remembered as one of the great Scotstoun nights, but every win counts if you want to be a team competing at the top end of the championship, and Glasgow Warriors overcame some determined opposition and treacherous conditions to get what they needed out of this match.

It would have been nice to pick-up a bonus point which would have put them equal with Leinster at the summit of the United Rugby Championship table, but Warriors had the maturity to recognise that it wasn’t going to happen for them in this match, and the self-control to resist any hair-brained attempts to force the issue.

They were content instead to close the game out and take the four-points which lift them to second in the table, for the time being. Even if Ulster jump back ahead of the Scottish side by beating the Dragons at Rodney Parade tomorrow [Sunday] afternoon, the Scots will have a game in hand over their Northern Irish rivals.

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“They all count, and that’s the key,” shrugged Wilson afterwards. “You look at the conditions, the guys were saying it was very difficult out there and got worse as the game went on.

“We were very good one side of the ball, it was a big defensive shift against a gutsy side who were not going to give up the fight. But they kicked a huge amount 0f ball deep to us an we tended to overplay or make errors, so the attacking side of our game wasn’t good tonight at all.

“Our defence kept us in the game, we scored two tries and we got a home win. That’s five [league] win on the bounce, and if we can play poorly with the ball and still win then that’s a positive.”

“We did something similar against Munster last weekend when we ground out the win in difficult conditions. You’ve got to be able to do that because if you try to play all the rugby in games like that the you end up feeding the opposition.

“Treviso at home in the international window with both teams missing players, you’d probably look at that and target five points, but in the circumstances I’m happy we came out with four. If we can play like we did tonight – ugly – and get a win, that’s the mark of a good team.”

An early exchange of ruck penalties between Domingo Miotti (making his first start for Warriors) and Tomas Albonorz of Benetton made it 3-3 with just six minutes played, before Rufus McLean thought he had opened the game up with a breakaway try.

A loose ball in midfield was hacked ahead, and the winger – who was on release from the Scotland camp – showed his trademark pace to fly past Benetton’s back field and dive on the ball in the in-goal area, before careering over the dead-ball line and into the advertising boards, however referee Frank Murphy viewed replay footage and ruled that the winger hadn’t managed to legally ground the ball.

Warriors didn’t let that near miss knock them off their stride, and full-back Ollie Smith showed flatmate McLean how it is done a few minutes later when he stepped and bounced his way past three Italian tacklers and stretched over the line for a try almost exactly midway through the first half.

Smith, who ended up as man-of-the-match, threatened again when he broke from deep a few minutes, and he had options on both his left and right but didn’t release either support runner, so ended up being tackled by the last man and the chance floated away.

It remained a cagey affair for the remainder of the first half, although Benetton winger Rhyno Smith made a decent attempt at enlivening matters when he launched an ambitious drop-goal attempt from halfway. He wasn’t far away – certainly much closer than Finn Russell in Cardiff last weekend – but it floated to the left of the posts.


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Wilson explained after he match that he sent Ross Thompson on in he 47th minute with instructions to play a territorial game in rapidly deteriorating conditions, and the young stand-off wasted little time in delivering what was asked of him, with an excellent kick into the corner establishing the field position for a try by Jack Dempsey five minutes later.

At this point, Benetton were down to 14 men for 10 minutes with No 8 Lorenzo Cannone in the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle on Fraser Brown at the back of a line-out.

With rain teeming down, it was tough conditions, and both teams struggled to assert themselves in an attacking sense. Warriors had more control of the match and lengthy spells in their opponents’ 22, but they couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard, so they did an effective job of closing the game down instead.

Next up is Scarlets away in two weekends’ time, and Warriors will approach that match with justified belief in their ability to make it four wins from four during this period when they have been without their front-line internationalists who are on Six Nations duty.


Teams –

Glasgow Warriors: O Smith; W Fifita (S McDowall 71), K Steyn, S Johnson, R McLean; D Miotti (R Thompson 47), G Horne (J Dobie 47); O Kebble (N McBeth 65), F Brown (J Matthews 63), S Berghan (E Pieretto 65), K McDonald (L Bean 58), R Gray, R Wilson, T Gordon, J Dempsey (A Miller 58).

Benetton Rugby: T Bell; L Pani(R Tavuyara 62), J Riera (L Petrozzi, 63), F Drago, R Smith; T Albornoz, A Garbisi; T Gallo (M Drudi 58), G Nicotera, N Tetaz (F Alongi 58), I Herbst (M Meggiato 9, M Lazzaroni 35), C Wegner ( C Els 54), M Zuliani, Y Fantini (A Izekor 50), L Cannone.

Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)



Teams –

Glasgow Warriors: Try: Smith, Dempsey; Pen: Miotti.

Benetton: Pen: Albornoz

Scoring sequence (Glasgow first): 3-0; 3-3; 8-3 (h-t) 13-8;


Yellow cards  –

Benetton: Cannone (50mins)

Munster v Edinburgh: pack power prevails over patchy visitors


About David Barnes 3912 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Geez, us rugger fans are not easy to please, and I’m one of them, but, but, but, I used to play at a half decent level sometimes in high winds and driving rain, I can vouch on how difficult that can be, you’ve just gotta dog it out, nothing flash and play the elements. Certainly not a night for the the backs to run it around, which would have been sooooo high risk.

    Credit to Glasgow, that could easily have been points dropped.

    • You’re right about the conditions, but such chances as Benetton had were mainly off errors made when Glasgow tried to run it back.
      And then the same problem as edinburgh the night before. Too often pretty toothless 5m out

  2. I felt for the spectators, both for what was falling on them and what they were watching, but, as others have said, a win’s a win.
    Smith looks an exciting prospect, a couple of mistakes excepted, and I hope Dempsey will be available for consideration for Scotland’s autumn internationals. McLean now knows you can’t touch the ball down with your face and I suspect the game might have been more entertaining to watch if Thompson had started. I still think Steyn is class and should be in the running for Scotland’s bench.
    I could swear I saw Kebble actually run with the ball. Must have been something I drank…

  3. Glasgow certainly made hard work of that game. Still a great try from Dempsey, amazed he did not suffer injury. Smith looks good at 15 some great runs. It’s not vintage Glasgow but we are 2nd in the table and we seem to now be able to win the tough ones and the defensive effort was impressive.
    Can I say that was a great game from Benetton even allowing for their injuries and yellow card, they just never gave up , they tackled everything with speed, were in Glasgow’s face all night long, and I would say experience cost them what might have been a couple of tries, well done to the youngsters.

  4. Poor, poor, poor. Remember this is a below par 2nd string Benneton team that lost all three 2nd rows, with players filling in out of position, a yellow card and away from home against a Glasgow team full of Internationalists. Also what has happened to the exciting Glasgow that kept the crowd entertained? The silenced crowd last night said it all. This is all down to the poor coaching set up. It appears they are happy just to win at any cost. Just not good enough.

  5. A wins a win but does feel like a point dropped. Conditions understandably played their part however Glasgow attack was very blunt – even when Benetton down to 14 it felt far from certain Glasgow would score.

  6. The headline sums it up well. A very difficult night but a wins a win. It was hard to play flowing rugby and you have to hand it to Benetton – they are a very tough side to play against, their defence was absolutely ferocious and we found it hard to break them down.Thompson played a very mature game when he came on to kick the ball to the corners and keep Benetton pinned back. I think his game management and tactical nous is ahead of Kinghorn at the moment.

    • Thompson played cleverly when he came on, I reckon Miotti tried to play too much rugby in the conditions.
      Kinghorn has flair but game management is not one of his strong points. Still think it’s a peculiar decision by GT to have him covering 10

  7. Turgid fare in a Glasgow monsoon. Good defence throughout against a spirited Italian side. However I expected better given the quality on show, ollie smith looks a real player, he made mistakes but was the 1 guy you thought could make something happen, big left boot, powerful runner, Thompson kicked to touch well in the conditions when he came on.
    Still a win keeps Glasgow in the fight for honours

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