Zebre 20-31 Glasgow Warriors

Three second-half tries saw Glasgow Warriors come from behind to secure a 31-20 victory over Zebre this afternoon, marking Ryan Wilson’s 50th match as captain in style.

A Player of the Match-winning display from Thomas Gordon and telling contributions from throughout the matchday 23 saw Danny Wilson’s side emerge victorious, after weathering a first-half storm from their hosts in Parma.

The Warriors came out of the blocks looking the more enterprising in attack, with one charge from captain Wilson taking play into the 22 after a smart offload from Ollie Smith.

It would be the hosts who would be first to trouble the scorers, though; after a lengthy stoppage following a nasty collision between Gregor Brown and Michaelangelo Biondelli, Paolo Pescetto was on target with a penalty to give his side the lead after just five minutes.

Thompson levelled the scores shortly after, as the visitors looked comfortable in attack and defence. The opening strike duly arrived on 22 minutes; good hands from Thompson and Huw Jones freed Cole Forbes on the touchline, and when the winger’s kick ahead was too much for the Zebre defence to handle it would be Thompson who gathered for his first try in Glasgow colours. The 21-year-old converted for good measure, and the Warriors had a 10-3 lead.

Indeed whenever the Glasgow back three had hands on the ball, there seemed to be a threat to the Zebre line. A sublime break from Rufus McLean after good hands from Wilson saw the winger accelerate clear, shimmying his way to within five metres. A supporting Dobie was denied only by the illegal intervention of Polu Leavasa, with the flanker dispatched to the sin-bin as a result.

Just two minutes later, McLean came even closer. A first-phase move sent Forbes slicing through the Zebre defence, before throwing the ball wide to McLean. Only a try-saving tackle from Mattia Bellini denied the Warriors youngster, his foot just brushing the whitewash before the ball was grounded.

Yet with almost their first foray into the Glasgow 22, Zebre crossed for their first score of the afternoon. A break from Renato Giammarioli took the number eight in behind the defence, with Bellini on hand to collect the offload and touch down under the posts. Pescetto’s conversion levelled the scores, as referee Andrea Piardi compounded Glasgow’s woe by showing a yellow card to Sam Johnson for an earlier infringement.

Still recovering from the double-blow, the Warriors were hit with a sucker punch by their hosts on the stroke of half time. Refusing to let the move die, offloads from Enrico Lucchin and Leavasa sent Bellini over for his second try in as many minutes, with Pescetto making it a 17-10 lead at the interval.

There was no let-up from the home side at the start of the second half, running the ball at every opportunity. Yet despite a two-man advantage after Smith was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on, the hosts could register just a single penalty for all their pressure, Pescetto extending the lead to 10 points on 52 minutes.

Instead, it was the Warriors who came roaring back into the match, with two replacements acting as the catalyst for Wilson’s men. Great counter-attacking from Jones and Forbes took Glasgow from their own 22 to inside Zebre’s half, before debutant Ian Keatley put Nick Grigg through a gap in the defensive line. The Scotland centre burst into the 22, drawing the full-back before putting Jamie Dobie over for his first try in professional rugby. Keatley converted, and the gap was down to three.

Still needing another score, Glasgow renewed their attack with additional vigour, pouring forward in search of the crucial breakthrough. Wave after wave of pressure eventually saw Lucchin become the fourth player to be sent to the sin-bin by referee Piardi, and from there the Warriors made their advantage count. A quick tap and go caught Zebre unawares, and from the following phase Gordon was driven over for his second score in as many weeks. The conversion for Keatley was a simple one, and Glasgow led 24-20 entering the final 10 minutes.

The result was secured just three minutes later, and once again it came courtesy of the replacements. Advantage in hand, Sean Kennedy and Keatley fed Johnson, who took the ball hard to the defensive line. The centre then slipped a delightful short ball to Grigg, who duly burst through untouched for the bonus-point score, Keatley adding the extras.

All that was left was for Wilson’s men to see the match out, a task they duly carried out with the utmost professionalism. A first bonus-point win of the season secured, and a potentially crucial result in the pursuit of Heineken Champions Cup qualification.

live commentary 1:00 PM Saturday 6 Mar 2021

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Kick-off 1:00 PM

Zebre

Glasgow Warriors

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