Glasgow Warriors V Zebre
Glasgow Warriors produced a clinical attacking performance to mark their return to Guinness PRO14 action, running in ten tries in total in a record in a 68-7 victory over Zebre at Scotstoun.
Dave Rennie's side scored 10 tries and delivered a record 61-point margin of victory.
A man-of-the-match performance from DTH van der Merwe on his return to the club ensured the Canadian would grab the headlines, as the Warriors consolidated their position at the top of Conference A.
On a near-perfect night for rugby, visiting fly-half Carlo Canna got proceedings underway, hoisting his kick into the Glasgow night sky.
Speaking of night skies, it was almost written in the stars that, on his return to Scotstoun, it was to be DTH van der Merwe that would open the scoring. With a penalty advantage in his back pocket, Adam Hastings floated a looping pass out to the Canadian flyer, who raced over for the try to the delight of the Warrior Nation. Hastings converted from out wide, and the home side led 7-0.
The Warriors were looking sharp, and were rewarded with their second score just five minutes later. Henry Pyrgos’s quick tap penalty put Zebre on the back foot, with support from Sam Johnson and Hastings keeping the play alive before Ruaridh Jackson arrived late to dive over underneath the posts. The conversion was simple for Hastings, and Glasgow’s lead was now 14-0.
With the forwards dominant at the scrum, Dave Rennie’s side were enjoying front-foot ball across the park. Their dominance up front was further underlined when, under pressure, Canna’s pass went astray in midfield, allowing Lee Jones to hack the ball on. In desperation, the Zebre fly-half hauled the Warriors winger down without the ball just inches from the line, with referee Craig Evans awarding a penalty try and showing Canna a yellow card for his infringement.
The Warriors capitalised almost immediately. From a lineout, the ball was played behind to the onrushing van der Merwe, who did what he has done time and time again at Scotstoun – find his way to the try-line. Hastings converted, and with 26 minutes gone, the home side had secured the bonus-point.
With a man advantage, Glasgow were cutting loose. Some slick interplay in the back-line saw Hastings slice through the Zebre defence, before drawing the last man and finding Pyrgos on the inside. The scrum-half had the pace to run in unopposed from 30 metres, with Hastings adding the extras for a 35-0 lead.
Even when Canna returned to the field, there was no let up from the home side. A kick stabbed through from Hastings saw Canna forced to carry over his own line under severe pressure from van der Merwe, giving the Warriors a scrum five metres out from the line.
Callum Gibbins celebrates his tryIt was a position that Rennie’s men duly made the best of. After being repelled initially by the Zebre defence, the try eventually arrived when Hastings’s cut-out pass found Jackson on the touchline, with the full-back sauntering over for his second of the night. From out wide, Hastings was unable to add the extras, the only blemish on an impressive first period for the fly-half as his side took a 40-0 lead into the interval.
Any thoughts that the Warriors would sit back on their lead were dispelled 90 seconds into the second half. Scott Cummings, reacting to a loose ball at the base of a ruck, calmly stole possession and flipped a pass outside to Jones. The winger beat the last man and darted over for the try, with Hastings converting to take the score to 47-0 in favour of the home side.
Zebre eventually registered their first points on 49 minutes, with Canna touching down after his side’s first spell of sustained pressure in the match. The Italian international added the extras to his own try, taking the score to 47-7.
Undeterred, the Warriors hit back with the next play. After a superb take from the kick-off, the home side recycled possession in the Zebre 22, before Zander Fagerson picked a smart line to crash over the whitewash. Hastings was once again on target, as the Warriors crossed the half-century.
The next try arrived on 58 minutes, as the Warriors took full control up front. A driving maul was far too powerful for the Zebre defence, with captain Callum Gibbins was the man to dot down for the score. The conversion was successful from Hastings, with the score now 61-7 to Rennie’s men.
The Warriors attack continued to fire, with the replacements getting in on the act. Off an attacking scrum, Peter Horne’s pass in behind found Lelia Masaga. From 20 metres out, the All Black winger showed incredible power to burst through three tackles and cross for his first try in Glasgow colours. Hastings continued his form from the tee, putting the Warriors further ahead.
Whilst the Warrior Nation were looking for a fairytale finish to the match in the form of van der Merwe’s hat-trick, it was not to be on the night. Instead, however, the home supporters had to content themselves with a record margin of victory in the Guinness PRO14, as their side now prepares to travel to the Scarlets in a fortnight’s time.