URC: scrappy Glasgow Warriors get the job done versus Zebre

Franco Smith's side secure bonus point win in last game of regular season to climb to second in table ... at least until Munster and Bulls play their final games of campaign

Sebastian Cancelliere scored Glasgow Warriors' bonus point try versus Zebre. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Sebastian Cancelliere scored Glasgow Warriors' bonus point try versus Zebre. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Glasgow Warriors 38

Zebre 26

STUART BATHGATE @ Scotstoun Stadium

A SCRAPPY WIN over Zebre Parma was enough to send Glasgow up to second place in the URC table for the time being, and if they stay there they will have a home semi-final should they win next week’s last-eight tie, also at Scotstoun. 

However, both Munster and the Bulls can go ahead of the Warriors if they win tomorrow [Saturday] against Ulster and the Sharks respectively, and in that case Franco Smith’s team will be back down to fourth, awaiting whoever finishes fifth.

But never mind the permutations. The fact is that, whichever opponents they face next week, they will have to play with far greater purpose and accuracy than they did here if they want to avoid elimination in the quarter-finals for the second season running.

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To be fair, Zebre did not play like a side who are bottom of the league. With nothing to lose – well, except for a 16th game from 18 URC outings – they showed plenty of endeavour.

Even so, for a team hoping to be closing in on peak form in their last outing before the play-offs, Glasgow were well short of the required standard. They were sloppy, they were hesitant, they conceded umpteen turnovers.

Smith acknowledged that the match had been a frustrating one, but also said his squad might benefit from the experience of being required to grind out a win.  “There’s a bit of both here,” he said. “I’m happy that we had to go and dig deep a couple of times, because that’s what it’s going to take. I think a lot of the pressures of getting many points, getting the five-point victory s – all of those things always play a role a little bit.

“Like the Lions did, they just pounced on our errors. That’s where the frustrating part comes in.

“Too many unforced errors. I can understand why it happened, but it’s something that we won’t get away with [in the knockout stages].

“I think we’ll get the benefit of the fact that we had to go and look for ways to win the game. I think that’s what’s going to be needed.

“We’re going to make errors next week, nervous errors. The opportunity to play at home is a big thing and it’s maybe a bit of added pressure. I feel tonight was a good opportunity for us to practise that ability to go and find a way to win.”

Warriors began well enough, dominating from kick-off and opening their account inside three minutes, with Jamie Bhatti scoring from a maul on the right after a penalty had been sent to touch. Duncan Weir, making his 150th appearance for the team, converted. The try might have come even earlier, when they drove a maul from the other side of the field, again from a penalty to touch, but the move broke down when the visitors offended.

They came close to scoring a try off a five-metre scrum after Glasgow had guddled a midfield move, but in the end had to settle for a penalty, calmly chipped over from in front of the posts by Giovanni Montemauri.

Max Williamson was an early departure for an HIA. Replaced by Scott Cummings, he did not reappear.

The home side then thought they had claimed a second try off a breakaway and a hack ahead, but it was chalked off as Sebastian Cancelliere had fumbled forward in his attempt to ground the ball. Replays suggested it was a harsh decision, as the winger had failed to catch the ball rather than knocking on.

The game continued in haphazard fashion for a while, and with quarter of an hour played Zebre narrowed the gap with a second Montemauri penalty. Glasgow needed to impose some order on proceedings, and they thought they had scored when Kyle Rowe grounded in the right corner. But that touchdown, too, was disallowed – this time for crossing in the build-up.

Another chance to stretch the slender lead was thwarted when the Zebre defence held up an assault on the line, but advantage was being played, and when the penalty was sent to touch, Johnny Matthews made no mistake from the maul. Weir’s conversion attempt went just wide, but even so, the score looked like being a signal for normal service to be restored.

However, Zebre had other ideas, and in the last minute of the half took the lead with two further scores. The first was another penalty, this time scored by Jacopo Trulla, the full-back, from inside his own half. The second, with the half-time hooter having sounded, saw Trull and Pierre Bruno combine to send Montemauri in at the right corner. The stand-off converted his own score to make it 12-16 at the break.



Glasgow needed to reassert themselves quickly after the restart, and they did exactly that. A scoring chance seemed to have gone when a pass went astray, but Sione Tuipulotu gathered, shook off a defender, and then passed inside for Rowe to touch down an unconverted score.

Again, though, Zebre refused to lie down, and retook the lead all too easily within a minute when Bautista Stavile picked off a loose pass and all but strolled through before touching down. Montemauri converted.

Just before the hour mark, Warriors got their noses back in front with the bonus-point try, finished off well by Sebastian Cancelliere off a Jamie Dobie assist. George Horne, on for Weir, added the extras.

Zebre were far from finished, and a few minutes later a Montemauri penalty gave them a two-point lead. But Glasgow themselves hit back quickly, with Matthews, the league’s top scorer, getting his second try off the back of a maul. Horne again converted to put his team six points clear with quarter of an hour to go.

There were a couple of hairy moments after that as Zebre went in search of the score that would round off their season on an improbable high, but the Warriors had the last word when Tom Jordan scored in the corner and Horne converted.


Teams –

Glasgow Warriors: K Rowe; F Cordero (G Horne 48), H Jones (T Jordan 63), S Tuipulotu (captain), S Cancelliere; D Weir (R Thompson 48), J Dobie; J Bhatti (N McBeth 48), J Matthews (G Hiddleston 71), Z Fagerson (O Kebble 71), M Williamson (S Cummings 8), R Gray (E Ferrie 63), M Fagerson, R Darge, J Dempsey.

Zebre: J Trulla; P Bruno, L Morisi (captain), D Mazza (F Paea 57), S Gesi; G Montemauri (T Eden 66), A Fusco (R Jelic 21); D Fischetti (A Sanavia 41), G Ribaldi (T di Bartolomeo 57), M Hasa (R Genovese 66), M Canali (D Sisi 54), L Krumov, G Ferrari, B Stavile, D Ruggeri (T Fox-Matamua 52).

Referee: Peter Martin (Ireland).

Scorers –

Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Bhatti, Matthews 2, Rowe, Cancelliere, Jordan; Cons: Weir, Horne 3.

Zebre: Tries: Montemauri, Stavile. Cons: Montemauri 2; Pens: Montemauri 3, Trulla.

Scoring sequence (Glasgow Warriors first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-3; 7-6; 12-6; 12-9; 12-14; 12-16; ht; 17-16; 17-21; 17-23; 22-23; 24-23; 24-26; 29-26; 31-26; 36-26; 38-26.

Attendance: 7,246.

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About Stuart Bathgate 1412 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. It was a really weird kind of performance. Some of the handling looked like a rainy night at the start of the season rather than a dry night at the sharp end. I fully expect a different set of backs to start next week.

  2. Why do Scottish teams struggle under pressure: Glasgow vs Toulin last season or Lions this season, Edinburgh vs Benetton last night and Scotland… well Scotland most of the time! I think most Scottish players have not been developed long term under pressure, there is not the intensity in their earlier years due to lack of high quality leagues from school age onwards. Not sure how to fix that at the top level to help Warriors beat Stormers and show progress from last season. C’mon Warriors!

  3. We are at the business end of the season and the past few weeks have not been encouraging. Will need to cut out the errors to have any chance of winning next week against a Stormers team who are going to bring their A game. Only encouraging signs lately have been the progress of the youngsters. Thought Mcbeth and Ferrie were both outstanding after they came on. Ferrie in particular has impressed this season and if he bulks up a wee bit more could be a real handful in the back row.

  4. Just shambolic really – weak/slow to react in defence again and so sloppy in attack. These have been a really worrying few weeks of poor performances just as we should be peaking. I’m not holding out much hope that it’s suddenly going to click in the quarter final next week (but would obviously love to be completely wrong).

  5. The drop in performance towards the end of the season is worrying after what happened last year. I agree with Pete D, Munster are the masters of peaking at the right time. Thompson looked good when he came on, I believe it’s a mistake to get rid of him, hopefully he will thrive at Edinburgh.

  6. Hmmm shades of Edinburgh pack was great backs too eager and Zebre easily countered anything we did. More worrying is our defence. Conceding 100+ points in the last 3 games shows sopmething is not working. Why can’t not just glasgow but Scotland teams do a better job of countering a rush defence? On many occasions their rush left space behind which smart kicks could have exploited. There were also 3 occasions where close to their line we’d sucked in their defence and there was acres of space out wide and we continued to pick and go in a very obvious very easy to defend way. Hopefully the last 3 weeks will be a massive wake up call for the quarter finals.

  7. Well what to make of that, it did not quite work out the 70 point drubbing I was expecting. Credit to Zebre they gave it their all and for a time there I was worried this might be a major embarrassment. Ok I hear 6 tries to 2 in the end but 38 – 26 was not the score I was expecting. Good to see Gray back he did well , thought Jones looked rusty and not sure Jones / Tuipulotu is our best center pairing at the moment. Good game from Rowe, Darge put it about, and Mathews gets another 2 tries, go Johnny.
    we will need to be better next weekend. Who got MOM last night I missed that.

  8. Certainly need to play so much better next week. A lot of errors in passing and handling so lets hope they have had their quota of errors in the last few weeks. Watching the ball going wide with the ball out the back is drifting across field so much that defences just need to drift across without committing any defenders. I think McDowell taking the ball more direct with his offloads is missed. Certainly need more variety in the backs at times as other teams have worked Glasgow out.

  9. Hmm, if we’re not careful we will let our own eagerness be our downfall – turn it down to 95% be more patient and we will cut out errors and complete more plays….. proving to be a difficult balance for coaches and players alike.

    Looks like it will be the Stormers next week, but whoever, we have a lot to get right before then. All well within this team’s capabilities if we get the approach right.

    What do we need to do to mirror Munsters ability to peak at the right time?

  10. Much much much better when Tom Jordan came on, his hard straight running and ability to offload in traffic improved things immeasurably.
    Before that a litany of mistakes, obvious ball to Tuipulotu tactics and feisty Italian defence made it close. Darge Gray Dempsey, Rowe and Cancillierre Did well. Matthews got another couple of trys (is it trys or tries) in his remarkable try scoring season. Thomson looks a better 10 than Weir.

  11. Yes, it was all a bit of a shambles. The team looked dazed and confused a lot of the time. They’ve clearly had their confidence shattered with events in South Africa, but it was unbelievably messy. A combination of trying too hard, attempting miracle offloads and throwing crazy passes, messing up the basics, and a collective loss of timing at this stage in the season is pretty disastrous. They just couldn’t find any rhythm or space. Zebra, however, produced some flowing rugby and seemed to have acres of room at times.
    Ach well, they’ll maybe get their mojo back next week. And they did score 6 tries… well, seven actually.
    I do take issue with your phrase “harsh decision”. The entire stadium, with the exception of the referee and the TMO could see, repeatedly, on the big screens, that the try was valid. At the very least, it should have merited a further look.

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