Glasgow Warriors 45
THE 10-game wait for a league win on the road – stretching back to beating Connacht at the Sportsground in January – is over. Glasgow Warriors weathered a muscular first half from a Parma team hunting their first win of the season (home or away), then played with purpose and composure to stretch away for a convincing bonus-point victory during the second half.
With Matt Fagerson sin-binned on nine minutes for skulduggery against Zebre’s powerful line-out maul, and brother Zander off the pitch from the 12th minute with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, Warriors were on the back foot for almost all of the first quarter.
“When he tried to steal the ball at the breakdown he got cleaned from the front, which meant an over-extension of his hamstring,” said Warriors head coach Franco Smith of the elder Fagerson’s injury. “So it’s a slight hamstring issue. We don’t know at this stage how serious it is, especially with soft-tissue injuries like that, you need a couple of days for the blood to settle and then you get a better image. But I suppose he’ll be out for a bit, at least.”
“We were obviously a little bit disrupted with Zander leaving the field that early, but I think after having a good chat at half-time, the reaction of the players was excellent.
“Today wasn’t about playing a creative brand or an acceptable brand, it was about winning for us,” he added. “We squeezed it out. We faced a team that was very determined, with a couple of fresh guys coming in. They must have seen us as an opportunity, because we had a poor record away from home, so they were very well motivated and prepared for us.
“We saw that in the first half, but we managed that pressure, and we had a good reaction in the second half after the half-time talk.”
Zebre’s early domination was built around brute force up-front, and their maul certainly played a role in pulling in defenders during the lead up to the opening try, but it was a moment of excellent vision and execution from Geronimo Prisciantelli which broke the deadlock on 19 minutes minutes, with the Argentinean stand-off angling an excellent diagonal towards the right touchline for Pierre Bruno to gather and score.
Prisciantelli added the conversion but the hosts failed to fortify their lead, and handed Glasgow a route back into the match less than a minute later when Chris Cook‘s box-kick from the base of a ruck on his own 22 was charged down by Sintu Manjezi, who then got to the loose ball inside the in-goal area first, with George Horne firing home the extra two points to square the contest.
Zebre came close to scoring what would have been a contender for try of the season when Prisciantelli found Mj Pelser with another well-judged kick in behind, and the openside flanker delivered an exquisite backhanded offload out of contact to Cook, who promptly kicked ahead for Bruno to chase, but the ball didn’t quite make it to the the try-line and the home winger lost knocked forward as he slid in to gather.
Despite spending most of the first half on the back foot, Warriors went in at the break with a slender lead thanks to a Horne offside penalty, which Smith acknowledged afterwards was an important confidence boost at a crucial moment.
Warriors then took control of the match early in the second half when captain Kyle Steyn was involved twice in the lead-up to a Sebastian Cancelliere‘s try, including the break and well-timed pass which sent the Argentinean in for the score.
Steyn was involved again when Warriors stretched further clear on 49 minutes, pressuring Bruno as he attempted to gather Horne’s box-kick, leading to the ball ricocheting into Stafford McDowall‘s hands and the big centre cantered home unchallenged from 30-yards.
Zebre battled hard to stay in the contest, and they had Glasgow on the hop when full-back Lorenzo Pani collected a high ball and broke clear, but he lost his footing as he approached last man Ollie Smith.
Warriors claimed the bonus point with 13 minutes left to play, when a period of pressure close to the home line culminated in replacement hooker Johnny Matthews picking up from the base and diving over, with Horne once again converting.
With Franco Smith Junior coming off the bench for Zebre to play against his old man’s team, the hosts scored their second try with just under 10 minutes to go, when Jacques Du Toit got the ball down off the back of a powerful line-out maul, and the replacement hooker struck again six minutes later through a very similar strategy.
Sandwiched between those two late Zebre tries was Warriors’ fifth score, thanks a tidy take-and-give from Manjezi which sent replacement stand-off Domingo Miotti over on the left, and the visitors had the final word when Matthews burrowed over for his second try of the match in injury-time.
Horne maintained his 100 percent record off the tee by slotting the touchline conversion in the final flourish to his man-of-the-match performance.
Zebre Parma: L Pani; P Bruno (J Van Wyk 50), E Cronjé (F Smith Jr 70), E Lucchin, S Gesi; G Prisciantelli, C Cook (G Garcia 55); L Rizzoli (D Rimpelli, 60), M Manfredi (J Du Toit 52), M Nocera (I Neculai 40), D Sisi, A Zambonin (J Uys 56), T Fox-Matamua (G Ferrari 60), M Pelser, M Kvesic.
Glasgow Warriors: O Smith: S Cancelliere (J Dobie 67), S Tuipulotu, S McDowall, K Steyn; T Jordan (D Miotti 67), G Horne; O Kebble (J Bhatti 53), F Brown (J Matthews 60), Z Fagerson (M Walker 12), S Manjezi, R Gray (J du Preez, 77), R Wilson (G Brown 60), S Vailanu (L Bean 53), M Fagerson.
Zebre: Try: Bruno, Du Toit 2; Con: Prisciantelli
Glasgow: Trie: Manjezi, Cancelliere, McDowall, Matthews 2, Miotti; Con: Horne 6; Pen: Horne.
Scoring sequence (Zebre first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 7-7; 7-10 (h-t) 7-15; 7-17; 7-22; 7-24; 7-29; 7-31; 12-31; 12-36; 12-38; 17-38; 17-43; 17-45.
Yellow cards –
Glasgow Warriors: M Fagerson (9 mins)