Glasgow Warriors v Zebre: Franco Smith’s men survive late Italian flurry to record friendly win

It was a promising start for Kyle Rowe who scored twice

Franco Smith was overall content with Warriors' performance Image: © Craig Watson -
Franco Smith was overall content with Warriors' performance Image: © Craig Watson -

Glasgow Warriors 33

Zebre 29

GRAEME MACPHERSON @ Scotstoun Stadium

GIVEN he treated the first four or five competitive games of the last campaign as if they were part of an extended warm-up, Franco Smith was never likely to read too much into the result or performance of an actual pre-season friendly.

Everything that happens on Smith’s watch, however, does so for a reason and so there was plenty, good and bad, for the South African to chew over come the conclusion of an eventful evening at Scotstoun.

With 16 players away at the World Cup and another dozen or so on the treatment table, it was an unfamiliar line-up that took to the field to face a Zebre side who were the whipping boys in last year’s URC but have already racked up a number of outings this summer and looked lively throughout a competitive contest.

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Much like Edinburgh in their own opening foray against Connacht the night before, this was a game of two halves for Glasgow.

In the opening period when they were at full strength – relatively speaking – Warriors were the dominant force and recovered from falling behind to an early Giovanni Montemauri penalty to run in four first half tries.

Two of those were claimed by Kyle Rowe who looked bright on the left wing on the occasion of his first Glasgow start, while on the opposite flank Sebastian Cancelliere picked up from where he had left off last year by running in a powerful score of his own.

Jamie Dobie, captain for the night, had got Warriors up and running with a trademark scrum-half dart off the back of a maul, and at half-time they led 28-3 in what was looking like a one-sided contest.

Zebre, though, to their credit, didn’t throw in the towel and began to make life difficult for their opponents, with Jacopo Trulla and then Giovanni Quatrini scoring two tries apiece to make it a much more even game.

In between Trulla’s first and second scores, Smith had turned to a bench filled with academy graduates, Super Series prospects and old head Duncan Weir and began to make multiple changes.

That naturally disrupted Glasgow’s rhythm but there was still a great moment for Ayrshire Bulls’ winger Luca Bardelli who – with no shirt number on his back – dived over for his team’s fifth try of the match.

That score ultimately proved the difference with Glasgow hanging on to win by four points and send the crowd home happy. Honest as ever, Smith admitted it was something of a mixed bag but was content with what he had witnessed.

“It was our first hit-out and I was happy with the first part of it especially when our senior boys were in and did what we asked of them,” he said. “Obviously it was going to change when we started putting some of the younger guys in to take a load off some of the players because we have Ulster next week.

“It was important to get our academy players involved to give them the chance to experience this environment. We’re on course and there were some good signs that we’re moving in the right direction. But we’re still three weeks away from the start of the season and there’s a lot of work still to be done.”

A smile broke across Smith’s face as he recalled the scenes in the Glasgow camp when the likes of Ollie Horne, Tom Banatvala, Ruaraidh Hart and Ben Salmon were handed their kit before kick-off.

“You should have seen the changing room when they got their jerseys – that was a massive moment,” he grinned. “That’s what the game is about, to build dreams and build the next generation of Glasgow Warriors and of Scotland players. I’m sure maybe 14 of the players in this World Cup squad won’t be at the next one so we need to find ways to develop the next generation.”

Smith made a big play of utilising his entire squad last season and looks set to do similarly in the year ahead.

“Kyle Rowe has shown tonight that there’s some class about him,” he added. “I think he’s definitely going to be important for us. But all of these players are going to be important.

“We’ll have this big group coming back from the World Cup who will need to be managed physically, emotionally and mentally. So to keep everybody at their best we’re going to have to look to our depth and that’s what we are working hard on at this stage.”

On a personal note, there was also joy at seeing his son, Franco Smith Jr, get off the bench for Zebre.

“It was fantastic to see him and he did well. He can be happy with what he brought to it in the second half,” he added.


Teams –

Glasgow: F Cordero; S Cancelliere, D Munn, T Jordan, K Rowe; R Thompson, J Dobie (captain); N McBeth, A Fraser, L Sordoni, A Samuel, E Ferrie, G Brown, A Miller, H Venter

Replacements: C Tait, T Banatvala, C Norrie, R Hart, J Morris, B Afshar, D Weir, B Salmon, K Johnston, L Bardelli, O Horne

Zebre: J Trulla; S Brisighella, F Paea, E Lucchin, S Gesi; G Montemauri, G Garcia; A Sanavia, G Ribaldi, J Pitinari, M Canali, L Krumov, L Andreani, B Stavile, G Ferrari (captain)

Replacements: G Quattrini, M Hasa, R Genovese, A Zambonin, N Piantella, D Ruggeri, I Bianchi, T Dominguez, T Eden, F Smith Jr, B Cambriani

Referee: Ruaridh Campbell


Scorers –

Glasgow: Tries: Dobie, Rowe (2), Cancelliere, Bardelli; Conversions: Thompson (4)

Zebre: Tries: Trulla (2), Quattrini (2); Conversions: Montemauri, Eden (2); Penalty: Montemauri

Scoring sequence (Glasgow first): 0-3; 5-3; 7-3; 12-3; 14-3; 19-3; 21-3; 26-3; 28-3 (h-t) 28-8; 28-10; 28-15; 33-15; 33-20; 33-22; 33-27; 33-29.

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About Graeme Macpherson 25 Articles
Graeme Macpherson is a freelance sports writer who covers rugby for a number of outlets.

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