Glasgow Warriors made it eight wins in a row in the RaboDirect PRO12, securing their first home play-off semi-final against Munster.
Townsend’s men were in determined mood straight from the kick-off, scoring five tries after 22 minutes.
Glasgow eventually made it to 54 points without reply in the Scotstoun rain, setting up Friday semi-final against Munster.
There were a number of changes made to the side who defeated Treviso with Sean Lamont and Stuart Hogg among the players coming into the team.
In his first appearance at Scotstoun in seven games, Hogg made an immediate impact.
After just 45 seconds, the full-back scored Glasgow’s first try. A well-worked offload by Pat MacArthur allowed the 21-year-old to burst for the line, bouncing off tacklers en route to touching down.
Duncan Weir was quick to convert the score and he was called into action once again after eight minutes when Ryan Grant scored a try following a Leone Nakarawa offload.
After 14 minutes, the Warriors were sweating after Zebre intercepted the ball and broke for the line. However, the play was brought back and from the resultant line-out, Al Kellock won the ball and then broke for the line.
The Warriors were on fire and with 19 minutes on the clock, the bonus point was secured. Glasgow passed the ball at speed before Stuart Hogg raced down the line and dived over.
Three minutes later and Glasgow made it five tries after Alex Dunbar burst through tacklers on the flank before motoring down the wing and touching down.
After going 33-0 up following a Duncan Weir conversion, the Scotstoun crowd were left flabbergasted after witnessing Glasgow increase their lead to 40 points in an odd fashion.
After Alex Dunbar broke through a slack tackle he kicked ahead. It then became a footrace between Niko Matawalu and Stuart Hogg. Both refused to relent as they sprinted forward. The two players dived for the ball but it was the Fijian who got the downward pressure with his fingertips.
At half-time, Glasgow went into the changing rooms, 40-0 to the good.
When they came back out the tunnel, the heavens had opened, with members of the Warrior Nation running for cover, as the rain bucketed down.
Once the rain cloud passed, normality was resumed and the scoreboard ticked once more.
Despite Zebre putting up stiff resistance, Glasgow eventually crossed the try line for a seventh time when substitute Geoff Cross bundled over.
And Peter Murchie's off-load set Matawalu off on a mazy run which ended with the eighth try of the evening. Weir's replacement Ruaridh Jackson converted.
As the final whistle blew, Al Kellock said a heart-felt message to the supporters before they raced over to the Ticket Office to collect their briefs ahead of next week’s historic match.
Glasgow: Hogg, S. Lamont, Dunbar, Horne, Matawalu, Weir, Pyrgos, Grant, MacArthur, Low, Swinson, Kellock, Eddie, Fusaro, Nakarawa.
Replacements: Murchie for Hogg (43), Jones for S. Lamont (74), Jackson for Weir (67), Yanuyanutawa for Grant (53), Hall for MacArthur (57), Cross for Low (57), Harley for Swinson (65), Holmes for Fusaro (53).
Zebre: Odiete, Toniolatti, Garcia, Venditti, Berryman, Iannone, Palazzani, Perugini, Giazzon, Chistolini, Geldenhuys, Bortolami, Bergamasco, van Schalkwyk, Vunisa, Cristiano.
Replacements: Chillon for Odiete (44), Aguero for Perugini (43), T. D'Apice for Giazzon (44), Ryan for Chistolini (38), Biagi for Bortolami (46), Caffini for Bergamasco (78), Cristiano for van Schalkwyk (9), Ferrarini for Cristiano (62).
Ref: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
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