Glasgow Warriors 56-24 Zebre

Glasgow Warriors returned to Guinness PRO14 action in style this evening, running in eight tries in a 56-24 victory over Zebre at Scotstoun.

Man-of-the-match George Horne and debutant Mesu Dolokoto each crossed for a brace, as Dave Rennie’s side continued their pursuit of a place in the 2019/20 Final Series.

In what was the first competitive action in a month for both sides, the early skirmishes were keenly contested. Whilst both sides sought an early foothold, it was the Warriors that struck first; a well-worked lineout saw Nick Grigg throw a neat dummy and accelerate through a gap, taking play into the Zebre 22. From there, the centre had the simple task of feeding the supporting George Horne for the game’s opening try, Pete Horne converting for an early 7-0 lead.

If the first was all about striking quickly, the second try highlighted Glasgow’s patience. A flowing, multi-phase spell of possession saw the home side move from 22 to 22, before Leone Nakarawa flipped a nonchalant offload to Tommy Seymour. Whilst the winger’s incision into the Zebre danger zone was halted in its tracks, there was no halting Matt Fagerson when the ball was swung wide. The number eight powered over from 10 metres, Horne adding the extras for good measure.

Yet Zebre were happy to throw the ball about themselves, and were rewarded with their opening score on 15 minutes. Renato Giammarioli’s surge took the visitors to within a metre of the try-line, before loose-head Daniele Rimpelli crashed over to finish the job. Michaelangelo Biondelli added the extras from in front of the posts, before adding a penalty 10 minutes later to make it a one-score game.

That score arrived on 35 minutes, and it went the way of the visitors. Junior Laloifi that was the catalyst as overthrown lineout from Glasgow saw the ball spun wide to the Zebre full-back, who accelerated through a gap. The supporting Marcello Violi was on his shoulder to finish the job, before converting his own try for good measure.

Yet the home side weren’t to be heading into the interval behind. A well-constructed rolling maul allowed Turner to take play to within five metres, before George Horne finished strongly under all kinds of pressure for his second of the night. Horne the elder converted, and the Warriors led 21-17 at the break.

With the game finely balanced, Rennie’s men came out of the dressing rooms firing at the start of the second period. The bonus-point was duly delivered by Glasgow’s first visit to the Zebre 22 following the restart. An excellent line from Stafford McDowall saw the Warriors move to within five metres, before Nakarawa produced a one-handed overhead offload out of a three-man tackle to find Dolokoto for his first try on his first appearance for the club. It was a score crafted in Fiji and finished in Glasgow, Horne making no mistake from the tee to add the extras.

Just two minutes later, the Warriors were in again. An electrifying break from Seymour and the omnipresent support line from George Horne saw Glasgow make an instant return to the Zebre 22, with the East Stand roaring them on. From quick ball, Pete Horne dropped a delightful cross-field kick into the arms of DTH van der Merwe to allow the Canadian to stroll over unopposed. The fly-half applied the finishing touch of the conversion, and the Warriors had a 35-17 lead.

With the Warrior Nation just beginning to settle down, a third try in six minutes duly arrived. In search of a hat-trick, George Horne’s dummy saw him race through a gap and into the Zebre 22. Pinning his ears back and going for the corner, a high tackle from Laloifi gave the officials no option but to award a penalty try and send the Zebre full-back to the sin-bin for good measure.

The visitors were in no mood to go quietly, however. Despite their numerical disadvantage, Zebre spent the majority of the following 10 minutes on the front foot as they continued to ask questions of the Glasgow defence. Yet the Warriors had the answers on every occasion, keeping the visitors at bay.

As the game entered the final 10 minutes, the home side cut loose once more. When Zebre half spoiled a Glasgow lineout, the Warrior Nation could have been forgiven for thinking an attacking platform had gone begging. They hadn’t, however, reckoned with Jamie Dobie; a sensational break from the teenager saw him go 60 metres, with only a desperate tackle from Josh Renton denying him a spectacular solo try. Instead it was Tom Gordon who piled over for Glasgow’s seventh try, replacement Ruaridh Jackson assuming the kicking duties to add the conversion.

Straight away, though, Zebre hit back. A spilled ball inside Glasgow’s 22 allowed the visitors to spin the ball wide, allowing Pierre Bruno to cross for the Italian side’s third score of the night. Violi converted, as Zebre chased a try bonus-point of their own.

Yet the final word of the night would belong to the home side. A missed kick to touch from Violi saw Dobie and Jackson spin the ball wide inside their own 22, sparking a classic Warriors score. Grigg’s pass freed Kyle Steyn out wide, who in turn found the supporting McDowall. Under pressure from the Zebre cover defence, the centre returned the ball to Steyn who galloped into the 22. His ball inside was gleefully received by the supporting Dolokoto, who cantered over with a grin as wide as the Clyde. Jackson converted, bringing the curtain down on another highly entertaining affair under the Friday night lights.

live commentary 7:35 PM Friday 14 Feb 2020

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Kick-off 7:35 PM

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