URC: Benetton v Glasgow: gritty Warriors secure rare win at Stadio Monigo

Franco Smith's side inflict first home defeat on the Italians in almost a year

Tom Jordan's late try sealed Glasgow Warriors' away win over Benetton. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Tom Jordan's late try sealed Glasgow Warriors' away win over Benetton. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Benetton 9

Glasgow Warriors 19

ALASDAIR MACKENZIE @ Stadio Monigo

GLASGOW WARRIORS survived a fightback from Benetton to inflict a first home defeat on the Italians in almost a year thanks to a gritty performance in difficult conditions.

Opportunistic scores from Johnny Matthews and Stafford McDowall had the Scots 12 points up by the break thanks to a well-executed kicking game that pinned Benetton in their own half and forced errors from them.

But Glasgow’s discipline abandoned them after the interval and a rising penalty count allowed Jacob Umaga to land three kicks and reduce the scoreboard gap to just three points, with a yellow card for Lucio Sordoni providing another reason for alarm.


Edinburgh v Ospreys: hosts recover from mid-match wobble to stay on URC play-off track

Seven options on the table for post-Super Series ‘transition season’

That was the month that was: February 2024


However, Franco Smith’s side survived the storm and made sure of victory late on when Tom Jordan dove through the sticks to seal a win that at least temporarily put the Scottish side top of the URC table.

With 18 players unavailable through injury and international duty, Smith was delighted by how his youthful side performed at one of the most difficult venues in the URC.

“I think the character of the group is important,” he said. “We came here with a lot of players not available for selection due to international duty, [although] I know they also have a lot out.

“I do feel our young guys stepped up tonight, we want to develop a great squad and make a good team and the young guys are taking their first and second opportunities, Gregor Hiddleston and Euan Ferrie, Nathan McBeth, there are a bunch of players who have put their hands up for more responsibility and that is going to be another part of the success of tonight’s game.”

Benetton coach Marco Bortolami said before the game that his decision to name a 6-2 split on the bench was down to the poor weather forecast, and the north-east of Italy delivered on that promise on a wet afternoon that will have been familiar to the travelling Glaswegian support.

Smith, back on familiar soil against the club he has previously played for and coached, made just two changes to the side that comfortably beat Dragons two weeks earlier. In came Sebastian Cancelliere as the Argentinean wing returned from injury, while McBeth packed down at loosehead prop. Jamie Dobie, fresh from signing a new long-term Warriors contract in the week, switched back to his favoured scrum-half role after starting on the wing a fortnight earlier.

Dobie proved to be a crucial figure in executing Glasgow’s game plan, his constant dinks in behind the Benetton defence, combined with Ross Thompson’s variety of kicks from hand, keeping the Italians pinned back.

A greasy ball and heavy pitch made free-flowing rugby an almost impossible thought, and the Warriors’ more pragmatic approach paid off after eight minutes when Matthews pounced on an overthrown Benetton line-out to dive over the line from five metres.

It took the Scotland hooker’s astonishing try haul to 11 for the season, a league high, and those calling for his inclusion in a Six Nations matchday squad were given plenty of ammunition in a dynamic first half where Matthews was busy in the loose and accurate at the line-out.

A scrappy first half was again lit up by an error when Glasgow’s second try arrived four minutes before the break.

Umaga failed to gather a kick and spilled it onto the toe of Facundo Cordero, who prodded the ball through for captain McDowall to dribble it over the line and score.

 

It was all smiles in the Glasgow camp at the interval, then, but an ill-disciplined second half soon sparked hope in the Monigo stands that a fightback was on.

The Italians began to force penalties at the set-piece and breakdown and Umaga slotted two from the tee to make it a one-score game as the Warriors’ discipline unravelled.

Sordoni was shown yellow following a TMO review with 20 minutes to go after a flailing arm caught Thomas Gallo in the face as the momentum swung further in Benetton’s favour, but Glasgow were the ones left celebrating when they successfully defended a driving maul from five metres to earn a turnover.

Glasgow’s scrum was coughing up penalty after penalty on the soft turf and Umaga soon landed another penalty to make it a three-point game with eight minutes to go and set alarm bells ringing.

But the nerves of the travelling fans were settled when, in a throwback to the theme of the first half, a Dobie kick was allowed to bounce and McDowall hared onto it, gathering and breaking a tackle before offloading for his centre partner Jordan to dive over and make sure of the win.

“Very few people will know I was part of the reason we tried to make the Monigo a very difficult place to come and win,” said former Benetton and Italy coach Smith.

“I knew it was going to be tough tonight, they’ve shown it all season, they don’t lose here.

“We had to come with a specific plan, and the plan for most of the game was mixing it very well. The fact that we could win without the ball tonight was very important, so there are a lot of positives to take home.”

 

 

Teams – 

Benetton: J Umaga; I Mendy, M Fekitoa, M Zanon, O Ratave; T Albornoz (G Da Re 68), A Garbisi (A Uren 61); T Gallo (I Nemer 77), S Maile (F Zani 68), S Ferrari (T Pasquali 72), G Koegelenberg (E Iachizi 45), E Snyman (captain), A Izekor (R Favretto 77), G Pettinelli (H Time-Stowers 63), T Halafihi

Glasgow Warriors: J McKay; S Cancelliere, S McDowall, T Jordan, F Cordero (B Afshar 78); R Thompson (D Weir 63), J Dobie; N McBeth (A Dell 59), J Matthews (G Hiddleston 59), L Sordoni, M Williamson, A Samuel (S Manjezi 63), E Ferrie (A Miller 63), T Gordon (A Fraser 77), H Venter

Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland).

 

Scorers –

Benetton: Pens: Umaga 3.

Glasgow: Tries: Matthews, McDowall, Jordan; Con: Thompson, Weir.

Scoring sequence (Benetton first): 0-5; 0-10; 0-12 (h-t) 3-12; 6-12; 9-12; 9-17; 9-19.

 

Yellow cards –

Glasgow Warriors: Sordoni (58 mins)

 

Attendance: 5,000.


Premiership: Glasgow Hawks power past Jed-Forest

9 Comments

  1. Great to see some homegrown firepower at lock coming through. Plenty of potential for development into test players in a position where we lack raw grubt and aggression. Though both were very good.

  2. Great to see Glasgow giving young bucks a go and still bringing home the results.

    Replacement props seems a concern through, the scrum went to hell when they came on.

    4
    1
  3. When the Glasgow 23 was announced, I thought that looked quite strong considering the absentees, but Benetton looked equally strong and playing at home in a stadium where not many visitors leave with a win looked like a real challenge. There was some real scrappy stuff,but youngsters like Ferrie and Williamson were very impressive. McDowall and Jordan so solid in defence, didn’t give Treviso a sniff of the try line.

  4. Properly coached, sensible selections and spot on game management along with hard nosed pragmatism won this.
    Seeing the conditions Glasgow kicked long, forcing the Italians into mistakes, Matthews try scoring is phenomenon 23 in 1.5 seasons.
    Dobie and Thompson played very well, there was 1 50-22 later in 2nd half by Donie (I think) quite superb.
    Venter made hard yards and the young locks did very well. Jordan McDowall coild both play at higher level. Jordans physicality very handy
    Agree with Iain Milne the teams positioning, néed a win on Saturday to keep this feel good factor going

    12
    • Yes the 50/22 taken quickly off a free kick showed great vision and execution. The following lineout wasnt so good but overall cant complain about a good result in terrible conditions against tricky opposition.

  5. Isn’t it great to look at the tables. Scotland 2nd in the 6 Nations, Glasgow and Edinburgh 3rd and 4th and both in the knock out stages of their respective European completions. I know it will probably change but it does make me smile 😊

    39
  6. That was a good win against a strong Benetton team. Another try for Mathews and such a well taken gift. I ‘am lost as to how Glasgow want to play , early season they maul tries from teams , now no attempt at maul tries. Today was lots of kicking most of it not very good , until the final try, beautiful kick. The defense was impressive Benetton did not look like scoring a try, the attack struggled at times with getting go forward apart from Venter. On to Rome next week lets hope it two wins.

  7. It’s wins like these that really count towards the end of season… really mucky conditions against a strong Treviso side. Again, some great performances from the young uns (cos Dobie is still young despite being about for years) but in addition to the above I thought Williamson was good in the close quarters and seems to have a bit of an edge to him.

    13
  8. Decent win in a mucky game against a good side. First half tactically astute with good discipline. Second half not so much. Line out fell apart. Kebble poor as replacement TH and avoidable penalties. Thought Staff, Samuel, Williamson, Venter, Thompson and Jordan all went well, but Dobie was outstanding and should have got MoM. Onwards and upwards

    10

Comments are closed.