Benetton 19-38 Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow Warriors kicked off the New Year in the best possible fashion this afternoon, running in six tries to claim a 38-19 win over Benetton in Treviso.

A brace from George Horne and a sterling defensive shift spearheaded the Warriors effort, as Dave Rennie’s men made sure all five points would be coming home with them from northern Italy.

There would be no slow start to the new decade for the Warriors, as they took to their task with razor-sharp focus in the Italian sunshine. A near-monopoly on possession for the opening three minutes yielded a much-deserved reward; an outside arc from Nick Grigg allowed the centre to feed Kyle Steyn, with the Scotland 7s star racing up the touchline. Faced with the last defender, the winger had the simple task of feeding Sam Johnson for the game’s opening score. Pete Horne converted, and the Warriors led 7-0.

In defence, too, the Warriors were enjoying an early edge. Good line speed from the pack allowed the visitors to put their hosts under pressure, whilst the likes of Johnson and Tom Gordon showed their intent to compete at the breakdown from the outset.

It was from the breakdown that Glasgow’s second try arrived with 12 minutes on the clock. A penalty won by Johnson at the ruck allowed Pete Horne to take play into the Benetton 22, from where the Warriors set up an attacking maul. Whilst well-stopped by the home side, Steyn’s powerful line allowed him to get his hands free and offload to Pete Horne, who himself showed great determination to drive through the tackle and over the line. The fly-half was unable convert his own try, but Glasgow led 12-0.

Needing a foothold in the match, Benetton reverted to their strengths. Their first try of the afternoon came in familiar fashion, as hooker Hame Faiva was driven over from a five-metre maul. Allan hit the upright with the conversion attempt, but Benetton were in the game.

The game was now proceeding at frenetic pace – Ratuva Tavuyara and Federico Ruzza were looking to throw the ball around at any opportunity, whilst the Horne brothers and Johnson were a constant danger for the visitors.

It was the former Howe of Fife siblings that responsible for Glasgow’s third try of the half as the game approached the half-hour mark. A delayed pass from George Turner sent Horne the elder through a gap, before finding younger brother George on his shoulder for the score. The conversion was on target, taking the scoreline to 19-5 in favour of the visitors.

Yet it was Benetton that closed the half on the front foot, as they pressed for a response. Were it not for a resolute defensive effort from the Warriors, it would have arrived earlier than the 40th minute, as to a man the visiting defence held firm. As it was, it was left to Braam Steyn to close the half with the try from close-range, Allan converting to make it 19-12 at the interval.

If the first half saw Glasgow enjoy the lion’s share of possession, the second was the exact opposite as the Warriors defence was tested early. Faiva would have added to his own personal tally were it not for Pete Horne, the fly-half superbly holding the Benetton hooker up over the line.

A physical contest was now being played out between the 22s, with neither side willing to give an inch in a finely-balanced encounter. It was left to one of the youngest players on the field to provide the vital breakthrough on 56 minutes – after a turnover saw Tim Swinson and Rob Harley combine to keep the ball alive, Bruce Flockhart dismissed an attempted tackle and charged through the middle of the Benetton defence. The flanker had the presence of mind to feed George Horne on the supporting line, with the scrum-half pinning his ears back and diving over in the corner. Pete Horne converted superbly from the touchline, and Glasgow led 26-12.

Yet Benetton reminded those watching of the style that makes them contenders for the Guinness PRO14 Final Series, striking back with 15 minutes remaining. An excellent gather from Sebastian Negri allowed Tito Tebaldi to dart through a hole in the Glasgow ruck defence, before Antonio Rizzi was on hand to apply the finishing touch. Allan’s conversion meant the game was back to a single-score affair as the match entered the closing stages.

It was the visitors who ended the match on the front foot, however. After exerting phase after phase of pressure in Benetton territory, the crucial try eventually arrived. Nick Frisby and Gordon were both mere inches short of the whitewash, before the call came to go wide. Huw Jones’ floated 20 metre pass found the arms of Niko Matawalu and the Fijian finished with aplomb, stepping the final defender to touch down. Horne’s conversion attempt struck the post, but the result was secure.

There was to be a final flourish from Rennie’s men, as the clock entered the final two minutes. With Benetton searching for a fourth try of their own, they instead conceded a sixth. Grant Stewart’s offload could only find Tavuyara, but the Benetton man in turn saw his pass picked off by Andrew Davidson, with Horne converting the second-row’s first try for the club to round off the scoring and send the travelling Warriors supporters home with a smile on their faces.

live commentary 1:00 PM Saturday 4 Jan 2020

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Kick-off 1:00 PM


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