Glasgow v Zebre: Matthews hat-trick is the highlight of easy Warriors win

Straightforward victory takes Danny Wilson's side up to third place in the URC table.

Johnny Matthews
Johnny Matthews opens the scoring against Zebre. Image: © Craig Watson.





RUGBY can be a simple game, or so Glasgow found as they disposed of  Zebre in some comfort. Once they had scored their first try within minutes through a lineout drive, they simply repeated the process, with minimal variations, time after time.

In fact, five of their six of tries  came directly or indirectly from lineouts. Hooker Johnny Matthews claimed a hat-trick to take his tally for the season so far to eight,  Ryan Wilson and Oli Kebble also scored from the set piece, and Jamie Dobie got in the act off the back of a five-metre scrum. Ross Thompson converted five of the six to wrap up a win that takes Danny Wilson’s side up to third in the URC table.

“Really pleasing,” was the verdcict from the head coach. “We showed a bit of ruthlessness tonight. The important thing for me was that after a good start, we came out after the interval and won the second half which we haven’t done recently in a couple of games, so really pleased with that.

“Our lineout maul was a really good weapon for us and we thought it would be against this opposition. The hard work to get us into positions to be able to maul from the whole team was outstanding.

“It was a good win and we’re back on track with five points and now it’s off to South Africa for our next two league games.”

Glasgow wasted little time in taking the lead, with Matthews barging over from a lineout drive and Thompson converting after penalties against the visitors’ defence had twice been sent to touch. The full score came with less than five minutes on the clock, and another followed just as the clock ticked past the ten-minute mark.

Mathews was stopped – legally this time – at the back of a lineout maul. But he got the ball back safely, and on the next phase Kebble used all of his bulk to bulldoze his way over the line. The 14-0 lead was exactly the sort of statement of intent that Wilson was looking for from his side after last week’s disappointment in Cardiff. 

Zebre huffed and puffed as they tried to get back into the game, but it was all too easy to see why they had lost all of their previous games in the league. They made far too many unforced errors, their attacks lacked in imagination, and all too often they lacked conviction when taking the ball into contact. In short, they are a side who are woefully short of confidence.

The departure of Dobie for an HIA midway through the first half perhaps disrupted the Warriors’ attacking rhythm for a few minutes, but once they got back into gear they easily scored a third. The lineout maul was again the weapon of chance, and this time when it was dragged down just short of the line, it was Wilson who finished off. The referee had a second look before confirming the score, apparently suspecting a double movement, but he was satisfied with what we saw and Thompson converted from wide on the right to keep up his 100 per cent record.

Not long after Dobie returned to the fray, Carlo Canna had to depart temporarily after being downed behind his own line, having carried over then trying and failing to run out of defence after chasing a long kick.  A strong five-metre scrum by Glasgow gave Dobie the perfect chance to plunge over for the bonus-point try, with Thompson once more adding two points.  

Minutes before the break, Zebre’s best chance so far to score was ended by a forward pass. But on Glasgow’s next attack, a hopeful pass by Cole Forbes out on the left wing was snatched out of the air by Alessandro Fusco, and the scrum-half ran 80 metres to claim his team’s first points of the game. Antonio Rizzi’s conversion attempt failed.

Given the way they had collapsed in the last half-hour against Cardiff, it was vital that the Warriors start the second half with real purpose. They did so, with Matthews scoring within minutes from – what else? – a lineout drive. Thompson missed the conversion attempt for the first time in the match.

Things then got worse for Zebre when blindside flanker Potu Leavasa was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Forbes. The penalty went to touch, but Zebre dug on and stopped the Warriors’ drive. 

The 14 men did not let the home side have it all their own way, and they came close to a second try only to be held up over the line by Kyle Steyn. That should have been a wake-up call for Glasgow, but a lot of the bite had gone out of their attack by that stage.

Wilson went to his bench as the game went into the final quarter, and that semed to do the trick as the team woke up. It was Matthews who got the next score, though, completing his hat-trick from another lineout drive. Thompson was on target this time, taking his team’s tally to 40, and Matthews soon left the field to a well-deserved ovation.

Minutes before time Sebastian Cancelliere thought he had scored his team’s seventh try after chasing down a kick ahead, but it was chalked off when a review showed he had not had the ball under control. It was Zebre who had the last word when Luca Andreani finished off from close range and Rizzi converted.

Scorers: Glasgow: Tries: Matthews 3, Kebble, Wilson, Dobie. Cons: Thompson 5. 

Zebre: Tries: Fusco, Andreani. Con: Rizzi.

Scoring sequence (Glasgow first): 5-0, 7-0, 12-0, 14-0, 19-0, 21-0, 26-0, 28-0, 28-5 half-time, 33-5, 38-5, 40-5, 40-10, 40-12.

Yellow card: Zebre: Leavasa 46. 

Glasgow Warriors: D Miotti; S Cancelliere, K Steyn, S McDowall, C Forbes (R Fergusson 62); R Thompson (D Weir 66), J Dobie (S Kennedy 19-28); O Kebble (J Bhatti 59), J Matthews (G Stewart 64), M Walker (E Pieretto 59), R Harley, S Cummings, R Wilson (captain), R Darge (K McDonald 65), J Dempsey (A Miller 59). 

Zebre Parma: J Trulla; J Laloifi (M Biondelli 61), E Cronjé, E Lucchin, A Tuivuaka; C Canna (A Rizzi 32-40), A Fusco (G Palazzani 74); D Fischetti (P Buonfiglio 61), L Bigi (G Ribaldi 54), E Bello (I Neculai 59), D Sisi (captain), L Mitchell, P Leavasa (L Andreani 59), I Bianchi (A Zambonin 70), T Fox-Matamua. 

Referee: A Jones (Wales).

Attendance: 6,927.

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About Stuart Bathgate 1431 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.


  1. Great conditions but the backs never looked remotely threatening. Not sure how the challenge cup works out but was that Glasgow’s last home game of the season? Can’t see them taking even a point in SA so little chance of a home top 4 place in URC.

    • Better put your Kevlar underwear on Rod. I had the audacity to question why we imploded last week (again) against Cardiff. I also highlighted that our chances of a home quarter final would now be remote. Was at Scotstoun on Friday and like you was disappointed at the lack of penetration and guile of the backs. The forwards are going well against weaker opponents however I think they may be up for a schooling in SA. Tough few weeks ahead then probably a tough away playoff game. If the management and squad themselves think otherwise they wouldn’t have sent Rob Harley out first on Friday, they know it’s likely our next home game will be next season.

  2. Good result (last try was disappointing) but Warriors were strangely efficient, but also fairly blunt in attack with ball in hand…. Still take the 5points and a big two weeks coming up in SA then Edinburgh….

    • Chances of Glasgow getting even a pair of BPs in SA appear slim. They really have shown their pedigree at home, with Stormers and Bulls easily the two strongest SA franchises.

  3. A comfortable win for Glasgow, but for me there are question marks despite the Danny Wilson spin. Having raced to an impressive 28-0 lead, the final score of 40-12 seems almost disappointing. There was a similar pattern to the Cardiff game, when the Warriors streaked ahead but got pinned back to lose the match. They will need to maintain intensity and guard against blurred focus come the business end of the season, when much stronger teams will come a-knocking and give them a more thorough examination.

    The Matthews hat trick aside, there were also some pleasing performances from a Scottish viewpoint. Dobie looks to be getting sharper the more game time he is given and hopefully will go forward in leaps and bounds. Murphy Walker could also potentially grow into the international role at tight head and at just 22 the early signs are promising. Scotland badly need to develop more depth there, especially with that great old war horse WP Nel hitting 36 later this month.

    Last but not least, Ross Thompson was again almost faultless off the tee. Five from six – and most of them by no means easy – with just the width of a post separating him from perfection. Particularly love how he isn’t phased at all by the guys trying to charge him down! Only Townsend could fail to understand how important it is to have such a reliable goal-kicking asset at international level, discarding both Hastings and Russell in favour of Kinghorn. Despite his silky skills with ball in hand, more importantly the Edinburgh lad would have got very few of those conversions last night and there is good reason why Blair doesn’t use him in that role. Keeping the scoreboard ticking is something more than an optional extra – and Thompson is rapidly maturing a young master.

  4. Ramblings – Easy win against a spirited but poor Zebre.
    The backs never really clicked, lovely early kick fron Stafford McD gave excellent field position for the very impressive driving maul.
    Dempsey really gives a go forward option and puts his body on the line, he’d by a tremendous asset come the AI.
    Thompson kicked very well and looks a more rounded 10 than the more flashy Kinghorn.
    Darge had a quiet game. Walker looks a real prospect.Cummings had a good game. Matthews deservedly MOM for his hatrick and steady throwing.

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