Match Preview | Benetton
Glasgow Warriors round out the 2020/21 Guinness PRO14 this weekend, as Benetton make their first visit to Scotstoun since September 2017.
It’s been a full three and a half years since the Italian side’s last visit to Glasgow’s west end, with Guinness PRO14 scheduling meaning that each of their three most recent encounters with the Warriors have taken place in Treviso.
Danny Wilson’s men will be looking to bounce back from Sunday's loss at the hands of the Dragons, despite Rufus McLean's world-class try-of-the-season contender.
Yet whilst Benetton have endured a tough 2020/21 campaign to date, there can be no underestimating the talent Kieran Crowley’s side has at it’s disposal.
Here’s how the two teams shape up ahead of Saturday afternoon’s match:
Benetton form guide
The men from Treviso currently sit sixth in Guinness PRO14 Conference B, with no wins from their 14 matches to date in 2020/21.
Spirited performances against Ulster and Leinster in their opening fixtures of the season ultimately yielded no points, before Crowley’s side earned a losing bonus-point in defeat to the Scarlets in round three.
Indeed whilst Benetton have had to console themselves with losing bonus-points on six occasions this season to date, results have belied their performances so far in 2020/21.
Nowhere was this more evident than in their clash with Munster earlier this season, where an 81st minute drop-goal from JJ Hanrahan saw Munster steal an 18-16 win at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo, or a brace of narrow defeats against cross-country rivals Zebre during the festive period.
Benetton saw a raft of experienced players depart over the summer months, with vastly experienced Italian international trio Alessandro Zanni, Ian McKinley and Dean Budd all hanging up their boots during the off-season.
Tongan back-rower Nasi Manu also said his farewells to the club to join Otago after three years with the Italian outfit, with Marco Fuser moving to English side Newcastle Falcons.
Fly-half Antonio Rizzi made the switch to fellow Guinness PRO14 side Zebre, whilst fellow fly-half Ian Keatley penned a short-term deal with Glasgow Warriors earlier this year.
The headline signature prior to the 2020/21 campaign for Benetton supporters undoubtedly came in the form of Paolo Garbisi, with the fly-half widely tipped as the future star of Italian rugby.
The former Petrarca Padova man was joined by Joaquin Riera and Niccolo Cannone in agreeing full-time deals with Crowley’s men, whilst Eduardo Padovani made the move from Zebre.
Elsewhere, Italian international scrum-half Callum Braley made the move from Gloucester, with Corniel Els linking up with the squad after joining from the Bulls.
Ones to watch
The Warrior Nation will be particularly familiar with one member of a dangerous Benetton back-line, as former Glasgow winger Leonardo Sarto could potentially return to his former stomping ground. Scorer of nine tries in 18 outings for the Warriors, the 29-year-old is still a potent threat when given the ball in space.
Marco Barbini is another who - if selected - is likely to be at the forefront of the Benetton effort on Saturday afternoon. The back-rower is a dynamic carrier, whilst also more than capable of stealing opposition ball when given the chance.
Club captain Alberto Sgarbi brings a wealth of experience to the Benetton squad, with over 140 appearances for the club to his name. Normally deployed in the centre, the 34-year-old is also a handy option in the back-row for Crowley to consider.
You have to go back to Glasgow’s first match of 2020 for the most recent meeting between the two teams, as the Warriors emerged with a 38-19 victory from the Stadio Comunale di Monigo.
A brace from George Horne, as well as tries from Pete Horne, Sam Johnson, Niko Matawalu and Andrew Davidson ultimately secured all five points for the visitors in a hard-fought win over their hosts.
It was a similarly tough encounter on Benetton’s last visit to Scotstoun in September 2017, as Johnson’s last-minute score secured the bonus-point in a 37-21 victory.
Tommy Seymour, Rob Harley and Pete Horne were also on the scoresheet for the home side, with Horne and Brandon Thomson adding 17 points between them from the tee.
Frank Murphy will be the man in the middle on Saturday afternoon, taking charge of his 43rd match in the Guinness PRO14.
Sam Grove-White and Ben Blain will be his assistants at Scotstoun, with Neil Patterson on hand as the Television Match Official.
The match is live on Premier Sports 1 this Saturday afternoon, with kick-off scheduled for 1.45pm.
You can also follow all the build-up and action as it happens on our Live Match Centre at glasgowwarriors.org.