Glasgow Warriors 37
DAVID BARNES @ Scotstoun Stadium
AN emphatic win and it could have been by more because the home side left a handful of gilt-edged scoring chances out there, but head coach Franco Smith wasn’t too concerned about those missed opportunities afterwards.
With two debutants in his squad (starting second-row Alex Samuel and replacement flanker Euan Ferrie) plus several other players who have had limited game time so far this season for various, he was understandably delighted with how his team worked hard to smooth out their rough edges in a relentless 80 minute performance against a side which Warriors lost heavily to at the start of this United Rugby Championship season.
“I’m an attack-minded person but I’m really excited by the nil,” he smiled. “The two go hand in hand. The better you defend the better you attack, and the better you attack the better you defend. Also, our set-piece was good tonight, we put a lot of pressure on them in line-out and scrum. So, these three components all really pleased me.
“I am really glad for the young guys who haven’t played a lot of rugby until now,” he added. “They had their chance and stood up to the challenge tonight.”
Warriors have now won nine league games at home on the bounce, a streak running back to last October, and they will go into their Autumn break feeling pretty bullish about their prospects. They do, however, have to start replicating their Scotstoun form on the road, and Leinster away in their next match on 26th November won’t be easy. Remember Glasgow lost 76-14 the last time they visited Dublin back in June, so there is a score to settle.
Warriors took the lead on 10 minutes when No 8 Sione Vailanu – making his first start and home debut for the club – picked up from the base of an unguarded ruck on halfway and ambled through a yawning gap, then sent last man Giacamo de Re on a fool’s errand with an outrageous dummy before thundering home for a wonderful 50 metre try.
Domingo Miotti failed with the conversion and then his Argentinean countryman Sebastian Cancelliere failed to capitalise on a three-on-one on the left when he went for the line himself instead of sharing, and the momentum of this match was all one-way at this point.
A clever toe-poke through from Stafford McDowall had Benetton scrambling again before Rhyno Smith managed to clear the danger from under the nose of Cancelliere as Warriors continued to push, but then the game lost some impetus for a frustrating 10-minute spell while Welsh referee Craig Evans blew a series of penalties against both teams for an assortment line-out and scrum indiscretions.
Warriors managed to keep the scoreboard rolling with Miotti firing home three easy points after Carl Wegner clobbered Jamie Dobie as he tried to move the ball from the base of a ruck directly in front of the posts, and then the game burst back into life on 34 minutes when Dobie released Miotti with an inch-perfect chip over the top, and the stand-off timed his pass to send Cancelliere under the posts superbly.
To add to visitors’ misery, Benetton full-back Smith was sent to the sin-bin for a high and late tackle on Miotti as he released that try-creating pass, and Warriors took immediate advantage of their extra man when they attacked from their own 22 in the first play after the restart, with Josh McKay doing most of the damage up the right touychline and Stafford McDowall on his side shoulder finishing off.
No sooner had Smith returned to the fray at the start of the second half than Benetton found themselves back down to 14 men for another 10 minutes when replacement prop Thomas Gallo was sent to the naughty step for shenanigans at a maul as it rumbled inexorably towards his team’s line. The hosts kicked to the corner again and claimed the bonus-point try through hooker Fraser Brown off the back of yet another line-out drive, and the visitors repeated the trick eight minutes later with Vailanu finishing off this time in his last act before being replaced.
It looked like Cancelliere had claimed his second try with a wonderful weaving run to the posts following nice hands in midfield from Ferrie – an academy player who has really impressed Smith with his work-rate and aggression during the last three months and Miott,i but the Television Match Official adjudicated that there had been a forward pass during the build-up.
A looping run from McKay provided the next threat to the visiting line, but his speculative offload didn’t go to hand and play was brought back for yet another penalty conceded by the Italians.
That elusive sixth try eventually arrived when Rufus McLean managed to hack ahead then gather himself – after it had bounced awkwardly between his own legs – then flopped over the line with eight minutes left to play.
The winger did not move for a long time and grasped onto the ball for dear life as his team-mates congratulated him, and you wondered whether he knew he had knocked on – but the TMO ruled on Warriors’ side on this occasion.
Glasgow Warriors: J McKay; S Cancelliere, K Steyn, S McDowall (T Jordan 72), R McLean; D Miotti, J Dobie (S Kennedy 60); O Kebble (N McBeth, 58), F Brown (J Matthews, 60), M Walker (S Berghan 58), S Manjezi, A Samuel (L Bean 66), R Wilson (E Ferrie, 50), G Brown, S Vailanu (JP du Preez, 58).
Benetton: R Smith; I Mendy, J Riera (M Watson 56), M Zanon, M Bellini; G da Re, D Duvenage (A Garbisi 50); N Tetaz- Chapparo (T Gallo 41), F Zani (M Arroyo 45), T Pasquali (F Alongi 66), S Scrafton (M Lazzaroni 62), C Wegner, G Pettinelli (A Izekor 56), S Negri (A Steyn, 62), H Time-Stowers (N Tetaz-Chapparo 52-58).
Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Vailanu 2, Cancelliere, McDowall, Brown, McLean; Cons Miotti 2; Pen Miotti.
Benetton: No scorers
Scoring sequence (Glasgow first): 5-0; 8-0; 13-0; 15-0; 20-0; 22-0 (h-t) 27-0; 32-0; 37-0.
Yellow cards –
Benetton: Smith (34mins), Gallo (48mins)