Glasgow Warriors 26
GRAEME MACPHERSON @ Scotstoun Stadium
THE points keep adding up for Glasgow Warriors but Franco Smith was never likely to be sated by the scoreline alone.
Four tries against a determined Benetton side secured another bonus-point victory, one that sees Warriors whizzing up the United Rugby Championship table and into second spot (behind Leinster on points difference).
It was a fourth win from five games so far this season, with Josh McKay, Kyle Rowe, Sebastian Cancelliere and George Horne all scoring excellent tries from open play, with Warriors for once not reliant on the maul drive to put points on the board.
Other positives included the return of George Turner and Tom Gordon for their first appearances of the season, while there was a competitive debut for 21-year-old lock Max Williamson in the second half.
So much for the good stuff. Smith, though, is something of a perfectionist and it was not difficult to detect his frustration with some of his team’s indiscipline – that saw McKay and then Gordon both sin-binned – as well as other acts of folly.
The relentless rain undoubtedly didn’t help, while Smith also felt an eagerness to impress the crowd might also have played a part. It left the Glasgow head coach fielding mixed emotions come full-time.
“Obviously I’m very happy with the win,” he said. “Nobody here will ever take that for granted. But I still feel there is so much in us. I’m looking at other wins tonight.
“We’ve used most of the squad that is available, we’ve rested our internationals, we’ve shown some good physicality in defence and the set-piece area of the game. We scored some very good tries, and apart from the Stormers, we’ve scored four tries every game. There is a lot to be thankful for and I’m excited to see what’s ahead.
“We made a lot of errors tonight. We put ourselves under pressure, but we’ll find a solution for that. There are two big enemies in rugby. One is doubt and the second is expectation.
“The players here don’t want to disappoint, they want to show eagerness, and most of the errors we are making are just over-eagerness.
“When you get out of a maul set-up and trip over your own feet, it’s something strange. You cannot doubt their effort, their will and want and their eagerness. Technically we are sound, we just have to get that mental balance.”
All Benetton’s points came off the tee, with Tomas Albornoz kicking three penalties and Jacob Umaga adding a fourth in the second half.
Twice they came close to landing a try, only for a brilliant Matt Fagerson tackle to cause Marco Zanon to drop the ball close to the line, after Tom Jordan and Cancelliere had combined just before half-time to shove Marcus Watson into touch when he looked set to score. It was another aspect of his team’s play that pleased Smith.
“It’s something we lacked last year,” he added. “There were certain aspects we felt we had to improve a lot on. Physically from an athletic development point of view, we have grown a lot and got better. I’m excited about that, but we are still not close to being the finished product.”
His team were 6-0 down – it could have been 9-0 had Albornoz made an attempted drop goal – before they got going.
A 50-22 from Stafford McDowall, the man-of-the-match, got Warriors up the park and from the line-out the ball was worked through hands for McKay to score.
The second owed much to Cancelliere’s slippery excellence, the Argentine bursting through a gap in the Benetton defence to provide an easy chance for Rowe to get his first home try.
Cancelliere was pivotal again for the third, taking a quick line-out to McKay who in turn fed Horne. He burst through before passing to Cancelliere to finish.
Horne had the last say as he secured the bonus point. Now stationed out on the wing after Sean Kennedy had come on for the injured Cancelliere, he took a pass from McKay over the Benetton medic’s head, and evaded a tackle on the line to touch down.
It wasn’t perfect from Glasgow but their fans seemed content enough as they headed out into the rain and set off for home.
Glasgow Warriors: J McKay; S Cancelliere (S Kennedy 63), S Tuipulotu, S McDowall, K Rowe; T Jordan (R Thompson 78), G Horne; J Bhatti (A Dell 53), G Turner (J Matthews 53), L Sordoni (E Pieretto 60), S Manjezi (G Peterson 53), R Gray (M Williamson 60), M Fagerson, T Gordon (A Miller 62), S Vailanu
Benetton: G Da Re; M Watson, N Brex, M Zanon, P Odogwu; T Albornoz (J Umaga 42), A Garbisi (D Duvenage 44); I Nemer (M Spagnolo 42), G Lucchesi, S Ferrari (T Pasquali 45), N Cannone (G Koegelenberg 69), F Ruzza, S Negri (G Pettinelli 27), M Lamaro, T Halafihi (H Time-Stowers 53).
Referee: Andy Brace
Glasgow Warriors: Tries: McKay, Rowe, Cancelliere, Horne; Cons: Horne 3.
Benetton: Pens: Albornoz 3, Umaga.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow first): 0-3; 0-6; 5-6; 7-6; 12-6; 14-6; 14-9 (h-t) 19-9; 19-12; 24-12; 26-12.
Yellow cards –
Glasgow Warriors: J McKay, T Gordon